Next time your boss moans about how much you use your phone during the day, tell them it’s making you a better employee. Research has found that people who take smartphone ‘microbreaks’ at various times throughout the day are happier and more productive, the Daily Mail reported.
Breaks of just one or two minutes, playing Angry Birds or using Facebook, can also help employees recover from stressful situations. The research was carried out by Sooyeol Kim, doctoral student in psychological sciences. To study smartphone usage, Kim and his colleagues developed an app that 72 study participants installed on their smartphones. The app measured the employees’ smartphone usage during work hours.
It also divided the employees’ smartphone usage into categories such as entertainment, which included games such as Angry Birds or Candy Crush, or social media, which included Facebook and Twitter. At the end of each workday, the participants recorded how they felt.
“By interacting with friends or family members through a smartphone, or by playing a short game, we found that employees can recover from some of their stress to refresh their minds and take a break,” Kim said. Kim also discovered that employees only spend an average of 22 minutes out of an eight-hour day playing on their devices.
But the employees who take smartphone breaks are happier at the end of the workday. Microbreaks are classed as any ‘nonworking-related behaviours during working hours’.
“A smartphone microbreak can be beneficial for both the employee and the organisation,” Kim continued. “For example, if I would play a game for an hour during my working hours, it would definitely hurt my work performance. But if I take short breaks of one or two minutes throughout the day, it could provide me with refreshment to do my job.”
Taking a break throughout the work day is important because it is difficult and nearly impossible for an employee to concentrate for eight straight hours a day without a break, Kim added.
Smartphone microbreaks are similar to other microbreaks, such as chatting with coworkers, walking around the hallway or getting a cup of coffee. “Such breaks are important because they can help employees cope with the demands of the workplace,” said Kim. “These days, people struggle with a lot of different types of stressors, such as work demands, time scheduling, family issues or personal life issues. We need to understand how we can help people recover and cope with stressors. Smartphones might help and that is really important not only for individuals, but for an organisation, too.”
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