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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 June, 2004, 22:14 GMT 23:14 UK
Modern gadgets raise work stress
Stressed man
Are we suffering from communication overload?
Mobile phones, laptop computers and PDAs are increasing levels of stress in the workplace, according to a study.

Using such gadgets in meetings is regarded as inappropriate and distracting for others, research by the University of Surrey reveals.

Most people said they found email and mobile phones necessary for contacting colleagues and clients instantly.

But the survey showed their increased use was adversely affecting the patience of others in the workplace.

Turn off

More than half of those surveyed believed it was inappropriate to use any form of IT equipment in a meeting or when talking to another person at work.

Only 11% thought it was acceptable for a mobile phone to be switched on during a meeting.

More than 80% felt it was inappropriate to look at or send text messages when with others.

Some 60% of respondents said there were informal workplace rules for the use of IT equipment, while two out of five said the use of mobile phones was not allowed.

Mobile etiquette

The University of Surrey study was carried out to examine attitudes in the workplace to modern communication equipment.

Workplace stress, anger and intrusive distractions are issues that require both management action and improved staff guidelines
Paul Moulds, Siemens Communications

Researchers said it was generally recognised that a certain etiquette is required when using mobile phones in the workplace.

Responding to a call when speaking to somebody implies that the phone call is more important than the person, the survey said.

Answering a call during a meeting suggests the meeting is not important.

'Stressed and impatient'

However, the study showed that younger people were less likely to be offended by others answering mobile phone calls during meetings

Professor Michael Warren answered your questions in an interactive forum.

Professor Michael Warren, of the University of Surrey, said: "We become stressed and impatient when we can't reach someone, yet we resent distractions and can become angry when our own meetings are interrupted by a mobile phone."

"I'm afraid the research shows that we all want to have our cake and eat it."

Paul Moulds, of Siemens Communications, which commissioned the research, said: "Workplace stress, anger and intrusive distractions are issues that require both management action and improved staff guidelines."

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