While BlackBerry has become something of a standard issue for many enterprises, it’s gradually turning into an HR headache as the threat of employees demanding overtime on mobile devices looms. Keeping time sheets for personal/business mobile use is a bit impractical – some companies simply institute mandatory BlackBerry blackouts in order to save themselves the hassle. A UK employment law firm, Peninsula, has conducted a study of some 600 BlackBerry-toting employees, revealing they’re spending an average of 15 more hours a week as a result of the little digital ball-and-chain, and concluded that employers should promote a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout.
“Bosses should encourage staff not to work from home unless necessary. Inform staff that they should limit working from home. If they are happy to work away then ensure they agree to opt out of the maximum working week and have this signed. Limit the extent to which employees are using their devices when they choose to do so; unrested employees will be less productive during the working day.”
The 15-hour figure, however, may help some enterprises organize their workforce accordingly as a rule of thumb – if it’s understood that your boss is taking into account 15 hours spent on mobile, then you’ll be obliged to be available when out of the office. That expectation of constant availability is implicit in some environments, although only semi-legal if you’re not getting paid for it. Keep in mind that the study was also conducted in the UK, where standard practices for businesses may differ; I’m tempted to think in North America, we spend a lot more (read: way too much) time on BlackBerrys, and probably have a larger figure over here. In any case, smart companies should have a policy to properly compensate for mobile activity, and studies like this could help solidify one if it’s not already in place.
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