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Jennifer Newman: Are smartphones ruining your time away from work?

Is being plugged into your work smartphone while outside of office hours ruining your down time? Jennifer Newman talks about balancing the work-life issue.

Knowing when to switch off the office phone is key to a better life, says Newman

Employees who are constantly attached to their work phones may feel like they can never detach from their job. (Getty Images/Hero Images)

Work smartphones have become a common tool for many employees, but is constantly being plugged into the job through one always healthy?

Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman spoke with the Early Edition's Rick Cluff about when to lay off of the phone when work time is over.

What effect does using a smartphone after-hours have on employees?

Sometimes staff feel on-call at home. Their family time is interrupted and they don't get down time to detach from work.

They feel like they can't recover from work stress because it never stops. Kids complain to their parents about being on the phone talking about work.

It sounds like a bad idea, perhaps organizations should ban the practice?

It's not always bad though. Recent research shows for some it can promote wellbeing.

People can feel more satisfied when using a smartphone because they can use it after hours to get things done. They like to check that tasks were complete instead of wondering all evening about loose ends.

Why do some employees love to use their smartphones for work after-hours and others can't stand it?

Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman says giving employees the choice to use their smartphones outside of office hours is the key to a productive team. (Jennifer Newman)

Staff who feel they have the choice and it's a real choice, feel positively. They feel free to use their phone or not.

On the other hand, if you don't have a choice and are expected to answer emails and calls from the boss, it can cause stress. If you feel compelled to use your smartphone after work, you will end up resenting it and burn out.

What can organizations do to ensure that staff well-being isn't being affected by smartphone overuse?

Let staff decided whether they're going to respond during their off hours. Don't make it an expectation but also don't make a rule banning it because there are those who like the flexibility.

Don't just assume employees are ok with being available all the time.

Doesn't this promote the idea of being a workaholic?

Workaholics are compulsively attached to their work. The difference though is that they don't get satisfaction from being available. Staff who control their use feel more healthy because they can control their on/off switch. Workaholics cannot control that.

At the end of the day, make sure whoever you're sending your emails to, they actually want and need to see them.

To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Jennifer Newman on smartphones after work hours.


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