Tag Archives: communication

Digital progress may actually give us more analogue time

Apologies, it was last summer when I penned my last blog on this site. It was my opening thought on the balance between digital and analogue life…but I failed to follow through!

However, over those last few months, I have become increasingly convinced that ‘digital’ may actually help ‘analogue’ life. If we understand the difference, and we manage it well.

The better that digital communications become, the more immersive and ‘real’ the experience becomes, then the less we actually need to BE anywhere specific. Look at Generation:IP (by VirginMedia) as a futuristic example. It is a little way into the future – but how long? Just a few years? I’ll bet their labs are using it now, testing, and these technologies will be on the market soon.

That means less commuting, less stress, and more analogue time. Historically, ‘commuting’ is very recent! Perhaps digital process will make it ‘recent past’?

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EVENTS: Technology Trends 2012 (by UNWIRED) 20/21 March, London, UK

I’d like to thank my friends at Unwired for their kind invitation to attend “Technology Trends 2012” next week. I believe that some of the sessions are now sold out, but if you have yet to book, check it out. Here is the full PDF. (contacts – see below. Speak to Isabel).

These short sessions, at breakfast, or at lunch, really seem to work for busy professional diaries. If, like me, you don’t actually live in London, then of course the lunchtime slot is favourite. I’ll be there on Wed 21st at 12.30, if you are going. And £99+vat is good value for a jam-packed high tech briefing session.

The strapline is, “What will new technologies hold for the workplace in 2012, and how could these innovations affect your business – A condensed review of the latest technology and innovations from CES, ISE and CeBIT 2012”

And there is the clue to this event’s value – it is a round up of what Unwired’s experts noted from these three key events:

CES is “the major US consumer electronics show, held in Las Vegas (100,000 visitors!!), including manufacturers, developers and suppliers, of consumer technology hardware, content, technology, delivery systems and related products and services….”

ISE is the “Top European event for professional AV and electronic systems integration”, held in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) with 25,000 visitors, and according to Unwired is an “industry defining event”

CeBITis “The world’s largest electronic tradeshow” held in Hannover (Germany) this month, with 480,000 (!!) visitors….OK, rather them than me…. but now you don’t have to go, just listen to the Unwired guys instead, who say the event is “the showcase for digital IT and telecommunication solutions and launch pad for new technologies and innovations”.

This is what Unwired says about the event:

 This key briefing will summarise the new technology and trends for 2012. Book now and join companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Barclays, HSBC, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Catlin Group, Drivers Jonas Deloitte, Foster + Partners, Nokia, Lloyd’s and Severn Trent Water.

This is a must attend event for anyone involved in creating effective working environment. Learn about technology enablers and drivers of change. What are the key technologies being adopted by organisations to enable workplace innovation and how can you future proof your workplace strategies?

Our expert commentators will be covering three of the world’s biggest technology exhibitions and will present you with an enjoyable review of the latest innovations together with an analysis of their impact on work, the work process and workplace (or other markets such as home, retail, education or healthcare).

And here is a bit of advertising, but worth noting….

UNWIRED is the knowledge division of Cordless Group. It provides a range of resources to allow our clients to predict the impact of new technology on business, people and the built environment.

UNWIRED publishes a range of reports, guides, white papers and a monthly newsletter. It also holds regular executive briefings, workshops, thinktanks, training and technology demonstrations.

For information and further details please contact Isabel Dewhurst-Marks by phone on +44 (0)20 8977 8920 or email: isabel.marks@unwired.eu.com

The Resilient Workplace

By Judith Heerwagen and Michael F. Bloom

In systems biology, resiliency is the capacity of a system and its inhabitants to bounce back from disruptive change, to cope with adversity without losing essential functionality and identity. The result is a more adaptive state with a greater capacity for effective re-organization. At the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), we have been implementing strategies to make the GSA’s vast number of workplaces more resilient and, thus, sustainable.

The GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings is the GSA’s green building center of excellence. As the federal government’s high-performance building thought leader and catalyst, the office strategically facilitates the adoption of integrated sustainable practices, technologies, and behaviors to accelerate achievement of a zero environmental footprint. GSA oversees 37.02 million square feet of office space in 9,624 buildings owned or leased by the federal government; 12,536 federal employees work in these buildings. Thus, the lessons from GSA’s federal building stock can be applied to many workplaces, large and small, in many contexts.

The federal building “system” today is much like a biological system facing disruptive change. The need to achieve aggressive environmental, financial, and operational goals and to reduce the federal spatial footprint, while maintaining the health and productivity of the workforce, is creating strong pressures to change. Can the built environment—and specifically the workplace—respond to disturbances and stresses with resiliency? Can we intentionally develop the capacity to adapt and cope by drawing on lessons from the natural world?

It is possible, but it will take unprecedented integration across boundaries, drawing on the knowledge and skills from disciplines that do not normally work collaboratively. Designers, technologists, policy makers, building operators, organizational and behavioral scientists—all have parts of the knowledge required to build a new way of thinking about work and workplace.

Unlike other organisms, humans have the potential to anticipate, create, evaluate, and change based on feedback and evidence. A resilient workplace requires a shift in the way we think about, use, and value space and highlights the need to establish feedback loops in order to adapt to and replicate what works. It also requires a shift to a more science-based understanding of the nuances of human behavior.  Ultimately, the main source of resiliency is people. Thus, we need to shape the workplace and its support system to provide the experiences that promote the human capacity to be creative—both individual and organizational—in the face of challenges both external and internal.

We define the resilient workplace as a system of interlinking components, none of which alone will generate resiliency. But in combination, they create synergies and mutual reinforcements that will drive the co-evolution of behavior and place toward resiliency.

The components include:

• A new way of thinking: Consideration of the workplace as an integrated whole, attuned to the relationships among space, management, work behaviors, policy, furnishings, technology, operations and communication practices. Today, most of these capabilities are in boxes and organization charts, each with its own perspective, rules, and ways of thinking.  Removing the barriers created by boxed thinking may be the most difficult challenge to implementing the resilient workplace. But as people learn to work collaboratively, the desire to engage others in thinking and planning will occur readily if it is nurtured.

• An evolution away from individually owned space: If work is not where you are, but what you do, why continue to assign individuals permanent space that remains vacant 60 to 70 percent of the time? This is a prime example of a non-adaptive workplace:  people for more than a decade have been characterized by mobility at work—whether just moving from meeting to meeting, or more broadly in multiple cities. Exchanging static, individual assigned space for the appropriate blend of support spaces that fit how work is accomplished broadens access to space that supports agency mission and releases resources that are unnecessary or wasteful. Assigned workstations may soon be to workplaces, as the vestigial appendix is to the human anatomy—present and taking up space but without performing a useful function.

• An evolution toward dispersed functionality: To be truly effective, the physical workplace should be just one node in a multiplicity of spaces that support connection among people across time and space boundaries. Organizations in which dispersed work teams become routine and the norm will be more effective in carrying out their missions even when disruptive events occur. Having the right kit of tools and technologies to work effectively as a team from multiple sites is a critical component of dispersed functionality.

• An investment in social capital: the workplace exists to support the people who work there, an employer’s most valuable resource. To survive, the workplace should service a niche and provide value that isn’t fulfilled elsewhere.  We believe that real value is supporting the synergies that drive effective teams. Face-to-face interaction is important for enculturation, socialization, creative problem solving, negotiation, and setting strategic direction.  But maintaining relationships in between face-to-face meetings can be readily supported from multiple locations, as can quiet, focused work.

An evidence based process: one that uses performance results as a basis for design, operations, technologies, furniture, and equipment purchases, as well as policy making over the life cycle of the workplace. By evidence, we mean not just objective data on factors such as space utilization, but also the tacit knowledge that develops through experience to become “know how.”

Elements of the resilient workplace

Taken alone, the elements that support the resilient workplace are not especially novel. Their transformative power comes through their combination. Here, we outline the key elements of the resilient workplace.
Space: Invest in space as social capital with focus on the different ways people work, focusing on collaboration, co-creating, and learning. Plan space by attending to best practices in indoor environmental quality, ergonomics, comfort, worker performance, operating performance, and technology supports. Space is no longer owned by individuals or linked to status; it may be shared with other organizations.
Furnishings: Furnishings are varied, flexible, and interchangeable—like a stage set that can be reconfigured easily. Ergonomics and comfort are critical, with an emphasis on work surfaces, including collaborative white boards. Increase reliance on consolidated storage of files and documents and ready access to shared electronic files.
Technology: Wireless, cloud-based, pervasive mobile tools (laptops, smart phones, tablets, etc.) are embedded into work practices with comprehensive technical support. Deploy technology to aid understanding, relationship development, information visualization, role playing, scenario development, and other practices that enable people to see in new ways. Technology supports both face-to-face and dispersed collaboration.
Management Strategy: Manage to performance rather than presence; create opportunities for cross group rather than stove-piped work and reward it when it occurs.
Work Behavior: Empower people to work wherever they work best; work is not where you are but what you do. Emphasize collaboration to achieve results and develop practices that work.
Policy: Co-create policy with workforce; policy becomes an accessible, living document that changes with new evidence to reflect
best practices.
Sustainability: The touchstone for all aspects of work, office design, renovation, and operations is sustainability, including life-cycle financial sustainability.
Operations: Building tenants are actively engaged in the impact of their behavior on how facilities function. Policies and programs to actively support behavioral change are common practices. Web-based discussions share how individual behavior affects building performance and how building performance impacts tenant health and productivity.
Communication: Communication is multi-modal and ubiquitous through asynchronous meetings, social media, chat, Webinars, and collaborative creation in the cloud.

A resilient workplace will succeed only where these characteristics intersect, and will thrive only when people are empowered and supported to work in new ways. Many of these elements are currently in place in public and private sector offices and telework experiments. But rarely have the elements been integrated in a systems perspective across the workplace life cycle.

Judith Heerwagen is an environmental psychologist specializing in the human factors of sustainability. She is a sustainability program expert at the GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, where she focuses on integrating research into policy making and on the relationship between building social and physical systems. She is co-editor of the book Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life (Wiley, 2008).
Michael F. Bloom is a sustainability and green program advisor with the GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings. He is a workplace strategist and project lead for GSA’s new Sustainable Facilities Tool,
www.sftool.gov.

One of the best from CoreNet Paris: “AiaDW” (All in a day’s work)

Paul Carder; Tuesday 20th Sept 2011; Paul was at the CoreNet Global Paris Summit. What follows below is his interpretation, so any errors are his alone.

A presentation at the 11.15 breakout session was given by Rob Wright of Johnson Controls GWS, (JCI) and Julie Boshoff, of Quest (a staffing solutions company, and JCI client, from Johannesburg).

I picked this session out for the blog, because it was excellent, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it introduced a genuinely new tool for understanding the workplace, albeit not a ‘public’ tool as it is owned and delivered by JCI GWS (actually designed by Rob Wright, who has a track record of designing useful web-based tools; he was also one of the drivers and creators behind QLW, or Quantum Leap for Work). Secondly, it was an international application of this new tool, as it was developed by Rob, an Englishman (only just – he’s a Geordie – very close to being Scots :-), tried out in the USA (where Rob is now based), and applied for a client in Johannesburg, RSA. Thirdly, I think it showed that large organisations like Johnson Controls do, contrary to some commentators, deliver innovations like this. Julie Boshoff, their client, was warmly singing their praises, which is perhaps proof enough. It is certainly not one of those cases where a service provider does a project for an innovative client, learns on the job, then passes this off to their next client as ‘our innovation’….this process below was developed and led by Rob Wright.

Understanding work: a business programme (not an RE/Facilities programme)

The session was really about understanding work (or at least, understanding work in the context of one organisation – we all know that every organisation has some similarities, but many differences).  And it was clearly a business programme, with an emphasis on changing people’s ways of working, and helping staff to become more efficient and effective in their work tasks.

To put it in context, the client has 12 branches across the Republic of South Africa (RSA), with 14,000 what it terms “flex staffers”. As the company supplies staff, and teams, for temporary positions and projects, and some outsourced functions, it has been the focus of some pressure from the Unions, and accused (like all similar agencies) as a “form of slavery”. The client wished to address this, and has implemented benefits that more permanent, long-term staff, would
expect, such as medical aid and retirement plans. The client expressly wishes to
be seen as an “employer of choice”. It is also around 99% women, so we are told
it is “very productive”! But this is a challenge, as good people want the best
jobs, and they perceive this to be in permanent employment.

WOW was born….(how many programmes are there globally called “WOW”?)

Space in the current (first pilot) office was not effective, or efficient. So the WOW programme was originated by the client, using JCI’s four part plan, as follows:

  1. Workspace Review
  2. Workstyle Review
  3. Design & Planning
  4. Supporting the Change

Workspace Review

Utilisation studies were conducted in 3 locations. Nothing especially new in this – we have all seen workplace utilisation charts, I’m sure, showing utilisation of the offices at several ‘timepoints’ throughout the working day. This is usually repeated (in my experience) over a 3 week period, and can be broken down by desk, meeting room, and other facilities, depending on how the survey is made up. The end result showed an average utilisation of 48%. This is probably +/- 10% from your offices, and most other offices – unless you have already implemented some form of ‘agile working’ programme. Or unless you sit in a call centre, or a country where people predominantly sit at their office desk and work long hours (i’m thinking particularly in parts of SE Asia & Japan where people routinely sit at their desk until the boss goes home….having said that, I have experienced that in London also!)

There were a variety of spaces, from induction and training rooms, to testing (examination, psychometric tests, etc.) and lots of meeting rooms. So some utilisation levels were up in the 80/90%.

Workstyle Review

This is where “A day in the life” comes in as a process. Rob asked selected members of staff to complete a diary for a day, outlining their work experience. 187 days of diary evidence were received and analysed. Different diaries were collated from different functions and roles across the client organisation. This especially highlighted barriers to working. The results were collated in terms of number of minutes wasted per day due to a variety of factors. The overall results were as follows

  • Technology                 40 minutes per day
  • Workplace                  31 minutes per day
  • General work            26 minutes per day

Alongside this, the survey showed particular issues with workplace factors, and ‘general work’ factors. No surprises with the top ‘barriers’ – these were noise and disruption. Any workplace consultant could have guessed that before the surveys, but that is not the point – the point is engagement. Listening to the staff, and feeding back.

The FBI was engaged – the “Finance & Branch Infrastructure” department – headed by Julie Boshoff. With JCI-GWS, a list of potential solutions (which, to me, looked much like a ‘risk register’) was compiled, and given a ranking number.

AiaDW – a user friendly online survey

The interface for the online survey is easy to use, which could be why they received a record 80%+ response rate (266 staff), from a good mix of groups across the organisation. The survey is designed to feedback primarily (1) understanding of workstyles, (2) a quantitative measure of unproductive time, in minutes as above, (3) insight into attitudes towards working ‘differently’.

Rob admitted, “the high response rate was a surprise”, and puts it down to the relative simplicity of the process and the survey itself. It goes out to staff as an email link, and is easy to fill in.

The survey starts with 24 categories of work, which the respondent selects according to their usual work routines. It then asks how much time the respondent spends doing each type of work. It then has 4 groups, which the user must ‘drag and drop’ their work categories into – simple! The 4 categories are:

  1. Focus
  2. Collaborate
  3. Network
  4. Develop

So now, the team can analyse the types of work, time spent on each, and which of the 4 boxes they fit into. This is quite a lot of analysis from which the design team can start to adjust the sizes of different categories of space to suit work patterns.

Instant feedback, and constant communication – keys to success

One of the features of this survey and analysis tool, which I have not seen in similar processes before, is the ‘playback’ at the end of the survey. People can (and were asked to) print off their ‘playback’, and the ones who were to be invited to workshops would bring their own ‘playback’ with them. This just adds to the excellent communication process, before, during and after (via workshops, and announcements from the ‘FBI’ team).

Time in different spaces/ places

This was shown to be 60% in the office, but only 35% at “the desk”. Out of the 60%, in addition to 35% of time at the desk, 12% of time was spent in the open support areas, and 13% in rooms. The other 40% of time was split between being out of the office, and around 11% spent at home. So this showed that there was already some implicit home-working, even though, like in many organisations, this had not been made explicit until now.

Two ‘Group’ companies, merge into one office? Data….

The question arose, during the project, of ‘could Quest and Emmanuels, two companies in the same Group, work in the same location’? The same data collection process and analysis above was applied at Emmanuels, which showed that the types of work and work-styles at both companies had a very similar profile. So the project team were able to say ‘yes’, and back up their views with facts.

This would clearly mean moving to different ways of working, which means in effect varying levels of workplace sharing – desk sharing ratios above 1.0, and shared meeting rooms, etc. But the survey had asked people to rank their attitude towards working in a different way. Of 4 categories, the top two were (1) enthusiastic, and (2) open-minded; i.e., not quite ‘enthusiastic’, but open to try it. Both categories are considered to be positive attitudes, and totalled 90% of respondents (37% enthusiastic; remainder ‘open minded’). This was good to know, and will now result in the same process being rolled out in the Cape Town and Durban branches.

Design & Planning stage

Following this analysis stage, the next step is to move into thinking about how space can be redesigned to support people to work more efficiently and effectively. This consisted of 3 key processes, as follows:

  1. Results of the analysis fed into the design concept
  2. Users connecting their survey responses, and the ‘playback’ that they kept copies of, with the new designs – important to close the feedback loop
  3. Making new tools work for the user

It was interesting that this programme was completed with very little new furniture or technology. Mobile staff got laptops issued before the move (what is mobile? Outside the office – OK; but people are mobile around the office also, even if they rarely or never work elsewhere).

Stage 4: supporting the change

The key word that sticks out strongly is engagement. Communications were clearly very good throughout the programme, led by the ‘FBI’ team on the client side, with support from JCI-GWS.

In addition to the ‘playback’ of results described above, a website was set up for users to keep them in touch with the process, and any milestones or decisions on design and features. The fact that people were listened to, and they saw this in effect in the new designs, was critical to the success.

Economics / results

Some headline real estate results given by JCI were impressive, as follows:

RE (space) cost per head                              down by 44%

RE (space) cost per SqM                              down by 13%

SqM per head                                                  down by 36% (from 29 to 18.8)

These results clearly show that, although some smaller (but not insignificant) savings were made in the overall space costs, it is the change in working practices that leads to the large reductions in cost per head, as people use the space more effectively. This is not news – but worth reinforcing!

Q & A session

I asked Rob whether, if the project had not involved a full scale refurbishment and move into bright new offices, the perceived productivity gains would have been the same. Rob replied that

we could have achieved some of the
productivity gains without the new fit-out, but not as much

Julie added that “connectivity”, including the new laptops for mobile users, and introduction of the office intranet, had improved people’s productivity also.

Tim Oldman, Founder of Leesman (and the Leesman Index, or LSi) made the point that “this is an employee engagement project firstly, and a property project secondly”. That seems very true, as engagement, feedback and action on the results, was the critical factor in the success. Tim also reminded delegates of the “productivity toxins” research by HBR (Harvard), and asked how many of these “toxins” had been removed from the old environment. Julie responded that the old environment was dark, and some people called it ‘the dungeons’! The new café spaces where people are encouraged to work, and other open shared space, had removed some of these “toxins”.

Melanie Woolcott from Pringle Brandon made a valid point that perhaps in future the process could capture the positive factors about the existing workspace, as well as the productivity inhibitors. Rob said that he was considering how to feed that in.

The session moderator, Rene Buck, asked a question that I have heard other senior managers ask before, ‘Rob, if you have been doing these types of surveys and collecting data for many years, surely you know what people are going to say, what the issues are? You don’t need to repeat the survey for every building, do you?’ Rob Wright’s reply was two-fold: firstly, every organisation (and I would say many parts of the same organisation) have different work types, styles and attitudes. So the answers don’t necessarily roll-out across a portfolio (Rob
has found that recently even in his own JCI portfolio in the USA). But the key
point, and one which backs up this entire case study, Rob said as follows:

“You may get the same results every time, but I would still advocate doing the survey every time – its about engaging with people”

Germain Verbeermen, Partner at Wiceley in Brussels, made a point based on his similar experience of these types of workplace surveys:

“Managers know how to cheat on these surveys! They will tell you that they spend most of their time on ‘concentration’ tasks, and at their desk – they are just angling for an office!”

Rene chipped in, “yes, and its not only managers that do this!” Rob had an answer though, saying “that’s why the list of work types, and amounts of time spent on each, come before the section that asks them to move these work types into the 4 boxes of ‘Focus, Collaborate, Network, Develop’…so they cannot do that”. Mmm, maybe?

Rene also asked “What didn’t you do, that you would have liked to have done”. Rob replied,

“working with the designers from day 1…when people get the data and analysis, and they were not the ones that collected the data, they don’t always like it”.

That is what happened here, as Rob explained. The designers were brought in by the client, not JCI-GWS, and didn’t at first accept the analysis. This may be in part due to the fact that ‘workplace’ and ‘new ways of working’ generally are at an embryonic stage in RSA. Perhaps, though, the way to achieve a greater project success is for the client to appoint one firm to see the project through from analysis into concept design at least. Perhaps another designer can pick up the detailed designs, or a lower cost/lower level part of the design organisation. The strategic upfront work is always going to be more expensive, whereas the more ‘routine’ design work uses lower level (lower cost) staff.

Tim Oldman again picked up on this issue, asking “where do you draw the line between data “harvesting”, data analysis, and feed into the design solution. Rob replied that he “would like, in JCI-GWS, to have more people in the design team that can do the analysis, to create an effective handover into the detailed design”.

Julie added, “yes, that would be better – there were some problems with getting the designers to follow what we had set out”.

Final word

Rob Wright had the final word, saying

“one funny thing that happened on this project was that I had 20 interviews set up [with key end users]…and I met about 120 people! I had expected to meet one person, and 5 or 6 may turn up to the interviews, because they all wanted to have a say, and were genuinely interested in the project”.

I know from experience that many corporates would restrict this, and claim it is a waste of staff time and resource for them to ‘all go’. But all credit to this client, not experienced in workplace projects, but experienced in engagement of people in change processes, that they went along with it. They may have had 180 hours (or so) of time taken up by people attending interviews, instead of 20-30 hours. But, how much has this saved the organisation in the longer term. Julie and her team clearly understood how to effect change in their organisation, and with Rob Wright’s workplace strategy skills, have been able to deliver a successful pilot which looks likely to be expanded across RSA….many people in sub-Saharan Africa will probably be looking carefully at how they can learn from this case study by Quest and JCI.

paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com
twitter: @occupiers

20th Sept 2011 (in the vicinity of, but not that close to) Paris at the CoreNet ‘Paris’ Summit.

CoreNet members can download the slides here.

Mobile freedom, or enslavement?

Those of us that seek to promote the benefits of agile working or flexible working see the exploitation of mobile technologies as the main enabler of change. Most of us possess a smart phone or laptop and use them regularly, throughout each working day and beyond.

Sales of the iPad, and similar competitive tablet devices, are rocketing. Corporate organisations are considering their mobile IT support strategies. There can be little doubt that we are becoming entranced by the immediate access to information and communication. It all looks great as a means of freeing us from the shackles of working at specific places and at specific times. But, is their a downside?

MIT psychologist, Professor Sherry Turkle (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sherry-turkle/14/522/982) drew a different side to the potential impact of these technologies. In her book “Alone Together –Why we expect more from Technology and less from each other” – she draws upon the research she has done over the 40 years of the computer age. She speaks of many of her subjects who have withdrawn into using technology as their main means of communicating with “family and friends”. Throughout that period, technologies have replaced what were rich, direct, face to face conversations with a blitz of superficial messages delivered in a way which avoid people from confronting another person directly. Many young people today live their lives around social network sites and would rather text their friends than speak to them on the phone or directly face to face.

Whilst reading her book on my iPad (!) on a commute into London the other day, I glanced up to look at my other travellers and found a good 80% in my carriage were doing something with their BlackBerries/iPhones.   Again, this week we saw in an Ofcom (UK) report, “A Nation Addicted to Smartphones“, a real concern over addiction to the smart phone. Apparently, over a quarter of adults and nearly half of teenagers in the UK own a smart phone, and 81 per cent use it to make calls every day. Not to say that this is bad in itself, but Ofcom estimates that 37 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of teenagers in theUK say that they are ‘highly addicted’. The mind boggles with the  statistic – 22 per cent of adults use their smart phone in the bathroom.

In China, where there are estimated to be over 400m users connected to the internet, the authorities were so concerned over addiction to the internet that in 2005 a residential unit was set up in Beijing – now there are 200 organisations in China offering a variety of therapies from bootcamps to electro-shock treatments. ‘Wired’ covered this last year, in an article “Obsessed with the Internet: a tale from China“.

Internet Addiction Disorder, recognised in the mid-1990s, is being considered by psychologists as being now sufficiently serious to add to the official list of mental disorders, as covered in this academic journal.

Another symptom of our addiction that we all experience is the email overload problem of which we all suffer and complain, but only add to by our own behaviour.

So how do we manage our addictive behaviours, that enslave us in technologies that offer the opportunity for so much freedom?

Do we ban their use when in meetings and during meals? Do we have smart phone free zones such as in cinemas? Do we treat excessive use as a mental disorder? Do we, perhaps, put health warning messages on phones?

Whatever the solution, we need to be mindful of the risks that our own behaviour towards these technologies presents, and we need to moderate our dependency. Consideration of others, and “doing to others what you would wish to be done by” wouldn’t be a bad way of thinking.

Author: Graham Jervis, PhD, is a Director of Advanced Workplace Associates Ltd, London, UK

http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamjervis