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Digital Distraction (Part 2)

In part one I discussed the findings of a new study that looked at the effects on performance simply from notifications from your phone—be it a chime or vibrating buzz.  The results were similar to that seen in texting and driving—distraction.  Although the study participants didn’t physically engage with their phone when they received the notifications, their mind engaged enough to lower their performance.  With this in mind, do employers need to consider even greater prohibitions on cell phones at work, especially for positions that require a high level of concentration?


As I walk through many different work places either as a hired consultant or as a customer at a business, I notice employees pulling out their phones and/or feeling for it frequently.  The distraction caused by phones has to have a negative impact on the production and performance of the employee. 


Some employers don’t allow employees to have their phones on them at work while others say they can have them but not use them.  In later case, could the attention deficit caused by notifications negatively affect their performance enough to broaden the “no phones while on the job” policy?  Would the distraction result in the wrong product being picked, the wrong word(s) being typed or the wrong action that causes an injury?  There are no studies to date that address those questions.  Employers need to be aware of the potential affect phones can have on their employees’ performance and take measures to limit those effects or modify the job task so distractions do not impact quality, safety and production.  Digital distraction is another reason for employers to understand and implement ergonomics/human factors principles and design strategies in the workplace.


What do you think?  Are employers aware of the digital distraction?  If so, what are they doing to limit/prevent it?