Plumbing and Hydronic Contractor Magazine published their survey findings on contractor internet usage in their July issue. There was some great information there! (You can check out the entire findings on their website, here.) Some of the stats that really stood out to me dealt with smartphone tech.
Smartphones… to save the day?
Of the people surveyed, 65% use cell phones. (It doesn’t mention if that means for work, or personal, unfortunately.) 65% feels like a low number. However, 27% of the people surveyed were over 65, and younger people are likelier to adopt smartphone technology first. Additionally, those same people responded that 59% of them felt that smartphone usage increased their productivity, and 52% believe that smartphone tech allows more flexibility in the hours that they work.
So why don’t more people find smartphone tech to increase work productivity? My guess is this could be a for a few reasons – smartphones can be distracting. There’s so much social media, information at your fingertips, and -yep!- phone calls.
One of our one-man-shop customers takes calls all day long on his phone, even mid-backflow test. This means that a test that would normally take 10 minutes is taking 20, because he’s constantly interrupted with business calls. Rather than let them go to voicemail, he always answers his phone.
That is both a good thing and a bad thing. Having someone deal directly with the phone calls from an office phone, rather than your cell phone, can absolutely prove to be incredibly valuable. While he never loses customers from not answering his phone, his backflow testing days are hours longer than they should be due to interruptions. In addition, he pushes ones he can’t finish through to the next day, so he’s often testing on his Saturdays.
So how do you combat this lack of efficiency when it comes to using smartphones for work?
The first thing that comes to mind is using the right applications. One that is poorly built, or doesn’t load quickly, or requires you to yell obscenities at it to work is going to slow you down. Not only are you going to be frustrated, you’re going to be less likely to use smartphone technology for other aspects. Our cell phones should make work easier, not harder.
Secondly, put time limits on when you use social media apps or games.
Thirdly, make sure someone in the office is fielding phone calls so that you’re only receiving the important ones from your office admins on your cell: not from every customer! It’s 2017. People don’t want to wait until the evening to receive a call back, or the next day. However, having someone in the office can really help your efficiency.
The survey part I really found interesting was the poll question about flexibility.
Allowing employees to work different hours is something that was harder just a few years ago. With backflow testing, for instance, testers would have to pick up their list of customers to test in the morning, and drop off completed test reports before the office closed. Syncta, as an example, has changed how backflow testers test. If it’s convenient for them, they can work before their boss is even at the office – and have reports in to the office admin to be sent out to water purveyors before the first coffee break.
Smartphone technology has allowed industry workers to start their day earlier, or end it later, than they used to. Have to pick up your kids in the middle of the day? No big! You can go finish off a few backflow tests after dinner and be back to tuck your little ones in to bed. With backflow testing, there is typically a set amount of tests that is needed to be finished. If you can stretch your 8 hour days to 10 hour days, you can have an extra weekend day.
Smartphone Technology Rocks
I love what technology can do for us. I am a millennial (but I’m old enough we didn’t have internet for the first 14 years of my life) so maybe that’s why. Recently I sat down with my dad though, and we went through some of the apps that he uses on his tablet. He’s an architect, and the amount of knowledge at his fingertips has changed how he works entirely. Spec revisions are immediately synced to the contractor’s app, just as an example. 20 years ago, they’d have Fedex specs across town. Think about that time-sink!
Good, solid smartphone technology has the capability to shorten how many hours you need to work, as well as give you more options throughout your work day. It’s important HOW you choose to use technology though. Do you find technology has increased your work productivity, or does it tend to be overly distracting? Make sure the apps you’re using are helping, not hindering!