According to data collected by AOL and Opinion Research Corporation, 59% of Americans check their e-mail every time a new one comes in (and not just the most recent one…). Many leaders are now voicing concerns that the enticement of constant stimulation with pings, rings and vibrations may be hurting productivity and personal interactions.

Founders from Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Zynga and PayPal, and executives and managers from companies like Google, Microsoft, Cisco and others, listened to, participated in and debated whether technology firms have a responsibility to consider their collective power to lure consumers to games or activities that waste time and lead to distraction. They discussed the fact that dopamine, a neurochemical, is released when people are engaged in pleasurable activities such as playing or winning video games. Small amounts of dopamine are also released each time an email arrives. It is easy to move away from a work-related task to get an immediate reward from responding to a ping, vibration, or ring. We get “hooked” on the stimuli which may lead to technology addiction and employee distraction.

Many leaders send and respond to emails day and night. Without realizing it, they actually encourage technology addiction, distraction, and less one to one communication. When a technology addict even imagines a ping, she jumps to see who an email or text is from. Consider the power of email…have you ever heard or said:

– “When you’re a senior leader, you’re on 24/7.”
– “When making a choice between two candidates, I always go for the one who is most responsive.”
– “When I don’t get a response back in 15 minutes, I call just to be sure she got the email.”
– “Just because I send emails in the middle of the night, it doesn’t mean you have to respond.”

Technology has many advantages, but the devices that were designed to make us more productive are now creating a new set of productivity problems. It is important for us to be aware of the messages our behavior sends to others and to develop strategies to support “great places to work.”

Download Innolect’s Are You a Technology Addict? checklist…

 

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