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Workers experiencing mobile phone-related guilt

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HR policy must catch up with use of mobile phones at and for work, mobility service provider MobileIron has said.

Research by the company has found that 61% of what MobileIron describes as 'Gen M' (men aged 18 to 34 and parents with children under 18) feel guilty when receiving work communications during personal hours. Meanwhile, 58% feel guilty when receiving personal correspondence during work hours.

Vice president of strategy at MobileIron, Ojas Rege reported that guilt was felt whether the worker in question responded to the communication or not.  

“We found people carry guilt with them throughout the day, regardless of whether they respond or not,” he said. “The guilt works both ways. When receiving a work communication at home for example, if the person responds they feel guilt towards their loved ones. If they don’t they feel guilty towards work.”

“Guilt occurs if you take an action that you feel goes against organisational or cultural norms.”

The global study also found that 52% of 'Gen M' professionals in the UK check or send emails outside office hours at least once a day, while 50% send work-related texts.

“The fact people feel guilty shows policies are not aligned to how we are working,” said Rege.

He added that companies need to first accept this, then establish goals regarding what they expect employees to do “regardless of where it’s done.”

“The third step is to set top-down boundaries, because if the CEO is sending emails at 2am it’s hard to tell other employees they shouldn’t do that too,” said Rege. 

The fourth step should be to ensure business data on phones also used for personal communications is secure, and vice versa, he said. 

“A lot of case law for this isn’t clear yet so you have to think very carefully,” Rege added. 

MobileIron’s survey also found 60% of 'Gen M' workers would leave their job if their employer did not allow any remote work or restricted their ability to do personal tasks at work, while 29% of 'Gen M' workers would leave their job if their employer could access personal emails, texts, photos, or videos on their smartphones or tablets.