Sixty percent (60%) of small business owners admit that they spend more time holding their mobile devices than the hand of their significant others. If that doesn’t tell us something about the pervasiveness of mobile communications, and our priorities, I’m not sure what does.
That finding comes to us from the Staples 5th Annual Small Business Survey (PDF), based on 300 U.S. small businesses having no more than 20 employees.
I was struck by several of the points made in the survey about mobile communications, suggesting how profoundly mobile devices have not only changed our business lives, but our personal lives, too. Depending on how you look at it, the results could be good, bad or a mix of both.
The impact of mobile technology on our life-work balance
For the most part, small business owners and managers tend to consider the virtual office to be a gift, according to the responses in the survey. We can draw 3 positive impacts on our lives due to the virtual office and use of mobile communications:
- We are less tied to our desks — like 56% of the owners and managers in the survey
- We can be more productive, professionally, by working during hours spent with family– which is the case of 43% of those surveyed.
- We feel less guilt taking vacations and can relax more — like 52% of the surveyed small businesses who feel more comfortable taking a vacation because they can stay plugged-in.
A majority of the businesses in the survey are family-owned (72%) and I know from experience that this romance with the cell phone (and other portable devices) isn’t necessarily good for family relationships.
Dr. Seth Meyers, a licensed clinical psychologist and relationship expert was quoted about the survey results as saying:
“Technology and mobile devices, in particular, can actually be good for family relationships, allowing Mom or Dad to stay plugged in with work while simultaneously attending events – ball games, school events – that were historically only possible for the non-working parent to attend.”
Dr. Seth acknowledges that “small business owner’s attention may be divided in such contexts,” but mobile devices still provide a “greater balance than life before such technology.”
It seems like a mix of good and bad to me:
- Good because you can actually spend more time with family.
- Bad because you may never disconnect entirely, and your family still may have to compete for your attention.
How do you deal with mobile devices?
Is the ability to plug back into business at any time and place a good thing? Or do you feel it’s an infringement on your personal life?
And what do you do to keep the balance (i.e., build the business and give family and friends the attention they need and deserve)? Tell us in the comments how you feel.