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Want productive staff? Give them a smartphone break

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You might believe surfing on mobiles is the top productivity killer for staff, but a new study suggests regular access to cellphones is actually a positive thing for productivity.

Research by Kansas State University found allowing employees to take smartphone ‘microbreaks’ to text a friend, play “Angry Birds” or check Facebook may lead to happier and more productive staff.

Microbreaks are nonworking-related behaviours during working hours, such as chatting with coworkers, walking around the office hallways or getting a cup of coffee.

Sooyeol Kim, a doctoral student in psychological sciences, analysed activities of 72 full-time workers from various industries, and discovered that employees spend an average of 22 minutes out of an eight hour workday playing on their smartphones.

At the end of each workday, the participants recorded their perceived well-being.

“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.

He added taking a smartphone break aids employees boost their productivity because it is difficult for them to concentrate on an elongated eight hour period without taking a break.

“These days, people struggle with a lot of different types of stressors, such as work demands, time scheduling, family issues or personal life issues,” Kim said.

“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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