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Please look up!

Am I the only one who struggles walking nowadays?  Trying to avoid the smombies (smartphone zombies) leads me to screaming internally “please look where you’re going!” whilst zigzagging from side to side to avoid people walking towards me with their noses buried deep into their phones.

The problem is so prolific someone has invented the “The Type while Walk” app which takes over your phone’s camera so that you can see the ground beneath your feet, with an included font colour-changing tool means that whether you’re walking over pavement or grass you can change the colour to contrast for visibility.  In Salzburg, Austria, lampposts are being covered in airbags to stop people bumping into them as they walk around staring at their screens.  Phone handsets seem to be glued to people’s hands, there is even a recognised new anxiety “rinxiety" or "phantom pocket vibration syndrome”, these conditions refer to anxiety surrounding missed messages and phone calls and the more often you check your device, the worse the anxiety will get.

But how does the phenonium affect business?  Here are my 5 thoughts on the matter:

  1. Great businesses ensure communication is flowing clearly throughout the business. With our clients we encourage daily huddles, weekly and monthly business review meetings.  These meetings shouldn’t take up a significant amount of time and allow team members from across departments to physically connect and deal with issues quickly that can be slowing down business growth. 

    Some Companies have decided to replace these face to face meetings with WhatsApp groups to save time and speed up communication flow.  The Groups keep the team up to date with issues and business development through the messenger app.  WhatsApp groups can be indeed meaningful and helpful, especially when your team are across many locations, however they cannot and should not replace face to face conversation. 


    Many WhatsApp groups can evolve in to a waste of internet space, with non-relevant messages taking up phone memory, how many times have you rued the day you were added to a group?  If you are a member of many messenger groups, you may miss the important messages and get distracted by the nonurgent and nonimportant.

  1. Building on the above, how many of you have attended a meeting where the agenda is constantly interrupted with those attending taking calls or answering their emails through out the session, often dragging the meeting into overtime. Its also very disrespectful of your colleagues to only give them 50% of your attention – you would not allow this behaviour at a family dinner, so why allow it at business meetings.

    The best solution is to ask everyone to put their mobiles in a basket by the door or make meetings device free.  The meeting becomes more focused and business is quickly dealt with, allowing teams members to be reunited with their devices on the way out.

  1. Just how much is missed by not looking up? Ed Sheeran recently gave up his phone for a year saying, “I’ve had such an amazing ride over the last five years but I find myself seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes so I’m taking this opportunity of me not having to be anywhere or do anything, to travel the world and see everything I missed." 

    How much is going on in your business that you are missing as you are concentrating on your mobile handset as you walk through the office to your desk?  Have conservations with your team members, chat with them at coffee breaks, take the time to actually ask someone how they are doing rather than relying on their social media posts to find out if they had a nice weekend.   Connect with your team members, make them feel special and that this is a place of work that speaks to and cares about its team members.

  1. Deep down we know that face to face communication is more effective than other types of communication such as telephone or email. The argument in favour of face to face time is that the telephone or email communication lacks important nonverbal cues to help us understand the message.

    Nonverbal cues play a significant role in understanding a verbal message. Nonverbal communication either confirms or contradicts verbal messages.  As people continue to increase their use of cell phones, email and texting, what's happening to communication?

    How much time is being wasted in petty misunderstandings from an email or text message sent to save the effort of making a phone call or even going to speak to someone in person.

  1. The increasing cost of healthcare. Many Company medical schemes are based on the amount of use, the more your employees go to the doctors, the more expensive the following year scheme will be.  There is a lot of ongoing research into the health affects of constantly using a handset device.  “Text neck” is the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long. And it seems increasingly common.

    Of course, this posture of bending your neck to look down does not occur only when texting. For years, we've all looked down to read. The problem with texting is that it adds one more activity that causes us to look down—and people tend to do it for much longer periods. It is especially concerning because young, growing children could possibly cause permanent damage to their cervical spines that could lead to lifelong neck pain.

 
Time to look up and see the world in glorious technicolour.  To quote Adel when she stopped a show to a member of the audience “Can you stop filming me with a video camera because I'm really here, in real life, you can enjoy it in real life, rather than through your camera."

Don’t miss out on what’s going on in your business by relying on emails and message, look up and talk to your team members, you may find that you discover more by talking and engaging with those around you.

Click here to see an alternative soulution I'm sure it will make you smile!

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Claire Donnelly

Written by Claire Donnelly

A Business Growth and HR Strategist helping medium size companies to Scale Up using proven systems. Claire is an MCIPD qualified Human Resource professional, with 25+ years’ experience working within various industries and 10 + years’ experience of HR practices throughout the Middle East. As a HR Generalist she has held a number of senior and Board level HR positions. She is experienced in working at both strategic and tactical levels.

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