It’s like any normal day at work. You’ve just arrived at the office, spring in your step and coffee in hand, except your boss has just told you today they’re implementing a new policy and demand you hand over your smartphone.
With their hand outstretched, they tell you you’ll get it back for an hour at lunchtime, before it’s locked away again until the end of the day.
Most people wouldn’t hand over their smartphone without a few questions, at least. After all, we live in an age where our iPhones and Androids have become extensions of ourselves – our direct connection with the outside world, where we can receive instant updates on WhatsApp and social media throughout the day. Plus, it’s our property, for us to hold on to. Right?
Well this could soon be the reality as bosses are reportedly confiscating smartphones to keep productivity in check, according to The Times.
We’re all guilty of absentmindedly checking our phones during working hours when we hear it buzz off, but now unions are warning of “a new front for friction” as untrusting managers ban phones to stop workers posting updates and texting their friends’ back.
In many customer-facing roles such as supermarket retail, it’s common practice for workers to lock their phones away in their locker before a shift, but how might this work extended to office workers?
Gerard O’Shaughnessy, managing director of Business Marketing Services in West Yorkshire, told The Times that his grievances with employees using their phones meant that he has since implemented a policy where they are confiscated until lunchtime.
“We’ve had girls have complete meltdowns when they’ve come to work and been told they need to put their phone in a box. Others have said it’s almost breaching their human rights. It’s almost like a separation anxiety.”
Gerard, 48, continued: “When we didn’t have this policy in place people would be checking social media updates during staff meetings. They’re utterly addicted to their phones. Every customer I deal with tells me exactly the same happens in their organisation with younger staff.”
However, these phone-bans in offices have alarmed unions. Mike Clancy, the general secretary of Prospect, the union for clerical workers, said: “Rigid controls over phone use, where no clear security and safety issues are involved, risks being rigid worker control, reflecting a culture that lacks trust.
“Used in the right way tech has the power to be both empowering and to improve services and productivity. But we can’t let employers have total control over when, where, and how tech is used at work.”
What are your thoughts? Would you give up your phone willingly?