Here's a hot 2021 tip for employers. Take your employees' phones off them.
We had our annual planning meeting at Radio Hauraki last week. My boss treated us to a stimulating PowerPoint presentation. After a 1000-hour number crunch, he yelled: "Are you muppets even listening?"
The aggressiveness of the outburst forced me and my co-host, Jeremy Wells, off our phones for the first time in the meeting. The boss had had enough of being ignored. He stamped his foot, spat on the floor, smashed his glass goblet and pointed his evil crooked finger at us: "A curse on you, Matt and Jerry!" he shouted.
"You distracted, social media-obsessed traitors. You stare at your phones like soulless wraiths when you should be working; nary a day goes by without a foul beeping disturbing your substandard broadcast. I'm tired of it, and sick of you, and I am banishing your phones from the studio on pain of death!"
The room fell into a deathly silence, the grim countenance of our leader freezing the very air of NZME meeting room GB.03. None present dared make a noise. After what seemed like an hour my co-host and I stood up, stared the angry beast straight in his glowing red eyes and declared, "Sure boss, sounds like a good plan".
Well, that's how I remembered it anyway.
The "no phones in the studio" dictate has been an unconditional success. Not only are we doing better work - we are happier doing it. The team wholly zoned into the task at hand. Instead of boring ourselves to distraction staring at vacuous Instagram stories, we put all our attention into creating radio and podcast magic.
Phones offer us a world of entertainment in our pockets. The problem is we go to them whether we need to be entertained or not. How often do you catch yourself opening your phone during a good conversation, when enjoying WandaVision or when you should be working? Most of the time we don't go to our phones for what they provide, we go because we are pathetic snivelling addicts.
I talk rubbish on live radio to hundreds of thousands of people for a living. It's stimulating work. I love it. Yet any spare second I had, I was searching for mild artificial social media dopamine hits. My boss was right to abuse me for it.
Our on-air team of Banger, Mash, Gravy and, to a lesser extent, Wells are the best in the business. Great people dedicated to their jobs. Fun and creative. Instead of enjoying their company, I've been indulging in a well-known time-sucking scam, focused on attention-seeking half celebrities instead of the people around me.
"I need my phone on me," you might think. "What if someone has to contact me?" You worry you'll miss a text, a piece of news or a half-baked opinion. A bigger worry should be missing your real life staring into the digital void.
I return to my phone every day to find nothing I needed to see. Better still, I'm forgetting to grab the phone when I leave - the addiction broken in a just a few phoneless stints.
A hard day's work with good people is a great thing. We humans are happier when focused and striving towards a goal together.
That's why If you are in charge of anyone, do what my boss did, yell at them and remove their phones. They'll love you for it. If you are at all in charge of yourself - turn your stupid phone off at work and join the real world. It's a rewarding place to be.
Thanks for the abuse, boss. I love you.