Advanced technology can make your business run more efficiently, but without some guidelines for technology use in at your business, your workplace might become unproductive. There’s no mistaking the addictive qualities of technology. For some people, limiting technology use may be akin to a smoker trying to quit smoking. No matter how much technology helps, a business should still pay attention to how it should be used during the workday. Even when being used for business purposes, technology-overuse can become a hindrance to the bottom line.

While employees may see technology policies as handcuffing, it is important to point out that policies are designed to help everyone work better and to keep the business profitable. Even the best workers can become distracted by a constant dribble of emails, voice mails and instant messages throughout the day. In some situations, distractions can pose danger, especially if machinery operation is involved. In other situations, technology distractions can lead to poor customer service.  What customer wants to wait while the sales clerk finishes reading her text messages? Who wants to do business with a supplier that constantly checks his Blackberry during meetings?

Of course most employees use technology for business purposes and may merely need some guidance on the most efficient uses for it. Using it for personal purposes while on the job can be compared to stealing company time. A few policies that are well-communicated to staff, are in the best interest of everyone involved.

Here are a few tips you might want to consider when drafting your technology-use policies:

Tip #1: Promote self-reliance by encouraging your employees to think for themselves before sending off messages or making phone calls.

Tip #2: Have employees decide how often they should check their email account. While in some jobs it’s a necessity to catch each email as it arrives, in other positions, it may be more efficient for an employee to only attend to emails a couple of times a day so they can remain focused on the task at hand.

Tip #3: For employees who have chosen to read their emails only during certain intervals, suggest they set up automated responses that let others know when their email may be handled. This may prevent the sender who hasn’t received a response, from calling to see if his email has been received.

Tip #4: Suggest employees take themselves offline or change their instant messaging status to busy, so that others will know not to interrupt them.

Tip #5: Set up a priority system that works for your business. Perhaps certain things are best dealt with in person or in group meetings instead of through email, text messages or phone calls.

Tip #6: There have been many arguments to-date about the right for employees to make personal cell phone calls at work. Set up a policy for using technology for personal purposes right from the start. You may require employees in certain positions, such as cashiers, to place their personal items in an employee locker so as not to become distracted.

Tip #7: A good rule of thumb is to block websites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. thereby eliminating the temptation to use them.

Once your policies are in place, make sure you introduce them to each new employee that is hired. Include them in a hiring contract and/or your employee handbook. When there is a good balance of technology use in a business, stress is lessened and focus is gained. Technology used wisely will lead to greater effectiveness for your business.

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