How do the experts deal with digital distractions?

Social media has shortened our attention spans and made us unable to focus on accomplishing a task without procrastinating. Or has it? Four industry leaders weigh in.

"Mark J. Galea, Managing Director at Quad Consultancy, agrees that employees need to be made aware that the way they behave also reflects on the company they represent.

“Every single person is an individual, and that individual is the same person whether they’re at work, at home, or at leisure. Recently, there was a low-level chef who posted a complaint – on his personal Facebook profile –about the Maltese in general, stating that they know little about food. The negative reaction from the Maltese who saw that post wasn’t only aimed at the junior chef, but also – in the majority – towards the restaurant that employs him.”

Mr Galea says that the same also applies to personal conduct. “Statistics show that many people who make it through the first shortlist of the CVs fall through after the prospective employer looks up their profile on social media. CVs and interviews are a sales exercise for the candidate. However, you can get a more realistic picture of the person you may be employing by taking a look at how they behave in their real life.”

Mr Galea says that being constantly ‘digitally distracted’ does inevitably lead to a loss in productivity. “In the case of customer-facing employees, the negative effects may be directly experienced by customers who are (not) greeted by employees who are more interested in looking at their screens, rather than serving their customers.” However, on a personal level, he is much more interested in productivity than policing their comings and goings online.

“I am completely against banning social media at work. Even if you ban employees’ access from the company’s computers, they can always use their mobile phones. Employers can ban social media, but employees may still waste time at the office around the water cooler, in the kitchenette, in the bathrooms, and other places. So what do we do? Remove all water coolers? Lock down the kitchenettes and the bathrooms?”

“On the other hand, I am definitely in favour of education. I believe that employees should be trained about being smart with their time. If the members of my team work smart enough and hard enough to meet the agreed deadlines, then I don’t mind that they spend time on social media. It becomes a matter of serious concern if unproductive employees waste their time on other issues instead of focussing on their performance.”

This article was published in the Commercial Courier (The Official Business magazine of the Malta Chamber of Commerce) also found online here: by Marie-Claire Grima, dated 10th November 2018