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The Time Wasted Fiddling with Your Smartphone Is Adding Up

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

BlackBerrys and iPhones have become the latest bane for employers concerned about lost productivity, according to Employment Law Advisory Services.

The company reported that its help lines are taking more and more calls from employers worried about the amount of time staff waste playing with their smartphones when they should be working.

Over the past couple of years, employers have equipped their people with phones that let them send and receive emails. Now that worries about productivity are taking hold, one of the common questions is whether taking smartphones away from employees might constitute a change in their remuneration package.

“What started as a trickle is certainly building up to a stream as more and more employers start looking at what they really need from their employers,” said Peter Mooney of ELAS.

“Being able to email staff at seven or eight o’clock was certainly seen as a benefit, but now the phones can do more and more, they are realizing that giving staff such powerful technology has its drawbacks too.”

ELAS estimated that accessing emails on a smartphone typically saves the employer between five and 20 minutes a day, depending on how much time the employee spends out of the office. Time lost to Facebook, Twitter, checking football scores, and so on can amount to 30 to 90 minutes a day.

As well as being a potential distraction for them, staff with expensive phones are also more likely to have their phones stolen, the firm advised.

In the past year or so, social networking sites were employers’ biggest online bugbear and this concern was addressed by a range of web monitoring and blocking programs. But companies that restrict staff Internet access through computers are finding it harder to control staff surfing habits on their mobile phones.

According to Mooney, downgrading an employee’s phone from a smartphone to a standard handset does not constitute a reduction in their overall package.

“Because most companies’ IT policies state that any technology staff have is for business not personal use, then it is no loss of benefit to take that away,” he advised.

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Accountant’s ‘Ridiculous Amount of Time’ Surfing the Web Not Ridiculous Enough to Warrant Firing

We realize that hardly any of you will be able to relate to this story but we’ll present it as a point of reference in case you know of anyone that gets jammed up in the future.

David Innes, 42, was fired from his job at Scottish and Southern Energy after TPTB decided that he was spending a little too much time surfing the web. In their words, a ‘ridiculous amount of time.’ And to get an idea of ridiculous, 27,500 website hits was the magic number.

This is quite a jump over the 16,000 hits that an SEC accountant spent looking at porn. This randy ne’er do well managed to keep his/her job as well as the other porn junkies. If you make the assumption that Innes had a SEC-esque porn habit, that still leaves a lot of surfing to be done.

Regardless, it’s safe to assume that somewhere in between 16,000 and 27,500 hits (presumably in a month) lies the threshold of you being thrown out on your ass.

However, a Glasgow tribunal found that Scottish and Southern didn’t really have a frame of reference for “a ridiculous amount of time” since David Pratt, the man who fired Innes, “made no attempt to obtain advice from the respondent’s IT department. His view was essentially that he was faced with this enormous report and this therefore showed an extraordinary amount of internet usage.”

In other words, a “ridiculous amount of time” is subjective, as is “a lot of time,” “quite a bit of time,” or “a metric ass-ton of time.” And even if you do reach your own perceived level of unacceptable web surfing volume, you still better check with the IT boys to see what their opinion on hella-web surfing is before you go firing people like Steinbrenner.

Meanwhile, for you do-nothings out there, it appears that your time wasted at work surfing the web can easily be defended, although you can safely assume that if you wade into the NSFW waters, your chances of survival are slim.

Busy Season Interns: Don’t Waste Their Time

Continuing with the busy season theme, let’s touch on everyone’s favorite coffee jockeys, the interns. This isn’t prime season for interns at accounting firms but we know there are a few lucky (?) teams out there that have an extra set of hands on deck.

Getting serious for two, this time of year, everyone is under pressure to get things done and if you happen to have an intern on your team, they either make your job infinitely easier or they are the bane of your existence. If you fall into the latter category, why is this the case?

It’s pretty easy for you to conclude that the blade of grass tapping you on the shoulder every ten minutes is the person at fault but a lot of times, interns get thrown into bad situations where they end up working for seniors or managers that are so swamped (or helpless) that they can only think about their own workload while there’s a 21 year old that needs something to do (besides looking through menus and making copies).

Since accounting firms put so much effort into recruiting the next wave you’d think that this enthusiasm would spread to teams like the Plague. Unfortch, there are many that see interns as an annoyance during this time of year because, “I have so much work to do and I don’t have time to handhold interns” and we think that’s bullshit.

We’re not saying that there aren’t bad interns out there. And we’re not saying you’re not busy. We know better. But if you gave that intern something meaningful to do instead of whining about how busy you are, they might make your life a speck (or a few) easier.

And interns need hand holding because they’re interns. Don’t forget that up until this point, they’ve been wearing sweats 24/7 and that you used to be just like them. Experienced team members should take this time to utilize them in a meaningful way and not as gofers. If you’re one of those teams that needs a gofer, at least squeeze some meaningful work somewhere so they can learn something and they probably won’t mind the gofering as much.

Yeah, it might take some effort on your part but it’s definitely worth your time to mentor these future associates. If you give them some challenging work now and show them a little bit of appreciation for their efforts, they’ll run through walls for you later.