Today's workers find their attention pulled in many directions. Pandemic concerns and a host of changes, including new safety policies and procedures implemented across industries, have only added volume to the clamor of alerts, messages and distracting apps accessible on mobile devices.
Companies stand to lose far more than productivity when worker's devices lead their minds astray. In some environments, distractions threaten life, limb and property, even if the app or activity dividing the individual's attention is work-related.
Indeed, the source of distraction at a critical moment could be one of the many mobile apps that organizations have adopted in recent years to enhance productivity, lower costs, widen profit margins and increase customer satisfaction. That is one of the reasons that companies seldom issue blanket policies prohibiting the use of mobile devices entirely.
How, then, should companies eliminate the safety and productivity challenges associated with mobile device use without eliminating the mobile devices themselves? Is it better to tackle problems as they occur, addressing incidents one at a time? Or should management take a quantum leap forward, imposing broad policy changes and adopting new tools to support compliance? Which approach delivers the desired outcome, in the most effective way?
Steps and leaps
Most companies are already heavily invested in the incremental steps towards making a safer work environment. Whether it’s daily safety meetings, OSHA training, adjusting safety policies or procedures or introducing new personal protective equipment (PPE) to the workforce, these daily acts reinforce the safety message and deliver the incremental improvements in incident rates the company is looking for.
But, to really impact the business and reduce the occurrence and cost of incidents, especially in times when the level of distraction is at its highest, organizations need to take that quantum leap. For many that means moving past the reliance on policies, training and personal choice and to instead manage mobile device usage with smart technology.
Supportive technology and artificial intelligence
Smart technology enables a company to achieve the high degree of compliance necessary to improve workplace safety through a mobile device policy. And, it can do so selectively, limiting access to distracting apps and functions only when and where access needs to be managed.
This could include eliminating distractions when an employee is around large machinery, operating heavy equipment or behind the wheel of a company or grey fleet vehicle. Outside of these riskier work environments, the mobile device operates as normal, which fosters employee trust, engagement and satisfaction in the policy.
These smart platforms for eliminating day-to-day mobile device distractions are known as contextual mobile device management technology (CMDM), which makes a smart device as “smart” as possible. The platforms manage the functionality of mobile devices in protected “zones,” which allows companies to develop intelligent usage policies according to how and where work gets done.
Smart devices entering a zone automatically adjust to that zone's mobile application usage policy, suppressing selected applications and functions that can cause a worker to lose focus, increasing the risk to their safety. This proactively eliminates liabilities and can even help to improve productivity rates. The resulting bump in productivity and profitability can be significant.
By using contextual indicators such as location, proximity or movement to intelligently detect when and where a mobile device is being used, CMDM can reduce the amount of time employers spend addressing policy violations. And, any privacy concerns raised by employees are easily addressed, as the technology only manages applications and device functionality in the workplace, on work time, is not designed to track employees and never accesses or records personal data.
More traditional mobile device management solutions may not recognize special locations or circumstances that make them more or less dangerous than a generic standard. Before committing to a solution, decision-makers should ensure that their chosen system supports the use of mobile apps necessary for the business, mitigates distractions, and meets the following business requirements:
· All employees, across all job functions
· All types of devices and operating systems, whether company issued or BYOD
· All work environments and situations such as driving or using heavy equipment
Solace of quantum gains
Employers bear a responsibility to ensure workplace safety, and that obligation extends to easing the distractions posed by mobile devices. Improper mobile device usage and the distractions created by constant notifications can result in increasingly hazardous working conditions, time-consuming supply chain issues and lower productivity rates on the manufacturing floor.
Daily improvements such as employee training and new procedures will create small steps forward in worker safety and productivity but may not be enough to truly move the business forward. The same can be said for heavy handed policies that leave employees disengaged and unproductive– they just don’t work.
In the case of mobile device distraction, rather than relying on policies based on blocking and controlling device usage, companies can embrace intelligent solutions that enable them to remain competitive while establishing a safer and more productive work environment. A contextually aware mobile device management platform paves the way to smoothly increase day-to-day operational safety and productivity and ultimately to achieving big picture business objectives – allowing for a quantum leap forward.