It is an insatiable addiction that has an unspoken acceptance among many companies - and most senior executives are sufferers. But as the "crackberry" phenomenon intensifies, more companies are taking a stand against their BlackBerry-obsessed employees and enforcing a blanket ban on the devices.
KPMG partner and demographer Bernard Salt says the addictive nature of BlackBerrys, and their ability to make employees accessible to their bosses 24 hours a day, seven days a week, could potentially lead to a generation of burnt out managers and executives in the next 10 to 20 years.
"It's not like heroin, which has immediate consequences, but over time I expect we will see some problems occurring," Salt says. "The risk is that in 10 to 20 years we could have an entire generation of people that have never been disconnected from the workforce, who are continually stressed and have no idea how to create downtime."
Carnegie Management Group chief executive Paul Smith has banned the staff at his management consultancy firm from using BlackBerrys. Although Smith says his staff joke that he is behind the times with technology, he says his concerns are legitimate.
Smith says the devices are a distraction in meetings and damage work-life balance. He says they also encourage people to use modern forms of communication, such as text messaging and emailing, rather than face-to-face communication. "Nothing beats one-on-one communication," he says.
Bresic Whitney Estate Agents director Ivan Bresic says he gives his staff Filofax diaries, rather than BlackBerrys, to maintain their schedules. While Bresic says he and about 10 of his 40 employees have BlackBerrys to check their emails while they are working off-site, it is quicker and easier to note appointments in a diary.
"The BlackBerry takes a lot of time once you turn it on and type things in," he says. "I like being able to see my schedule in front of me and make notes as I go."
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