How Smartphones Have Changed the Way We Work

How Smartphones Have Changed the Way We Work

Smartphones, as we know them, have come a long way from their first version as the Simon Personal Communicator (SPC)[1] in 1992. 

Today, smartphones have become an essential extension of us, with a mini PC and phone all snuggly rolled into one device that easily fits in our hand. They have become our go-to source for not just staying connected, but also staying informed and managing our professional and personal lives.  It has become practically impossible to leave home without your smartphone, which is reflected in the fact that the smartphone market is expected to cross $1,351.8 billion by 2025[2].

Key nucleus of the business ecosystem

Smartphones have facilitated a culture of instant connect, in both our personal as well as professional lives. Everyone is expected to be available at all times, blurring the lines between our work and personal time.

Until a few years ago, work life revolved primarily around the time that one spent in the office, with limited if any expectation of being available outside of it.  Smartphones have freed us from our desks as connectivity solutions such as Slack, FaceTime, Teams and Meet provide access to a virtual desk from anywhere in the world. This has led to employees being able to work virtually from literally anywhere in the world, reducing the cost of physical office spaces in many instances by allowing organizations to do better space management by allotting workstations to multiple employees on rotational or shift basis, translating into lower overhead and maintenance costs.

Productivity has witnessed a jump with mobile apps that enable everything from ordering a meal to booking a cab or a meeting, reducing the dependence on support staff to manage these everyday tasks. 

In the era of digitalization, smartphones have simplified process-heavy tasks through app-based interfaces, such as filing and approval of expenses, signing of legal documents and managing employee HR processes. This has enabled employers to reallocate their workforce in many ways.

In today’s global health crisis, smartphones have aided in getting back to business as usual for many companies by allowing for instantaneous connection across borders – a fact highly appreciated when the countries around the world went into lockdown and business travel came to a standstill. These devices play a vital role in enhancing collaboration across management and employees across geographies and time zones, especially in the era of distributed or offsite teams.

Customer experience forms the focal point of an organization’s growth strategy and, increasingly, mobile CRM and mobile apps are playing a pivotal role in catering to pre and post sales customer service through options such as instant messaging with chatbots, and automated mobile self-service.

More than workplace management

Continuous mobile internet connectivity, anytime, anywhere, has resulted in a paradigm shift with an individual’s persona carrying itself from the online to the mobile world, enabling individual targeted digital communication, information and advertising seamlessly across multiple devices at home and work.

During the current crisis, smartphones have accelerated the adoption of telemedicine and telehealth. Due to the restrictions on face to face clinical consultations and the hurdles faced by healthcare systems in delivering patient care, smartphones offer ease in connecting with healthcare services online or through mobile apps.

Moreover, as working, learning, and entertainment are all happening from home in 2020, demand for personal devices has gone up and smartphones have become a cost-effecting option to stay connected, especially for low-risk content consumption requirements.

The downside of this change

While it cannot be denied that smartphones have changed our lives for the better, overdependence on them is becoming a reality that needs to be managed. They have blurred the line between personal and professional time, whether it is the expectation of instant response to emails or consumers expecting real time responses to their queries, making smartphones responsible for the culture of quick turnaround.

Smartphones have also become one of the major reasons for distraction at work with social media available instantly at a tap of a finger.  Research[3] shows that employees can on an average spend as many as 56 minutes per day, or almost five hours a week, by using their mobile devices for non-work activities during office hours, bringing their personal lives into the workplace an in unprecedented way.

Smartphones have also caused a decline in human interactions by reducing in-person communication, with people preferring to text or mail or send voice messages instead of talking face to face, even when within the same premises.

The use of smartphones is going to continue to grow with solutions that are designed to make everything we do available at our fingertips, especially these days as we practice ‘social distancing’. It is important for businesses and individuals to understand how they can leverage smartphones to their advantage without infringing on personal time and relationships.