Put away the Blackberry!

If you are in a position where you have to say, "I even annoy myself," you must really have a problem. That's what Milwaukee attorney Reince Priebus recently said in an interview with the Business Journal.

I love my gadgets too, but for many users of the Blackberry (often affectionately called a Crackberry) it is creating too many distractions at work and at play. It used to be that your clients called your office during regular business hours. You dealt with business issues then. Now clients, bosses, and co-workers have access to you practically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And it's annoying.

Even more annoying? Someone whipping out their Blackberry while you're talking to them or in a meeting with them. Banging away on the mini-keyboard with their thumbs while you're trying to have a conversation is not exactly polite. It seems like we're going to need to teach people some manners when it comes to the Blackberry. Really... is any message so important that it can't wait another 15 minutes until we're done? The Business Journal's survey of 600 readers found that 48% think there should be a Blackberry ban for all business meetings.
Most avid users of Blackberrys think that they're being more productive and providing better client service if they're sending messages at all hours of the day or night. They feel "connected" and accessible. Yet some people believe that the Blackberry makes professionals less efficient and often is more of a distraction than anything else. Multitasking is often not done well, so a Blackberry may actually be hindering your work performance.

I am very often accessible to clients during "off" hours, both via wireless and email. But occasionally I turn off my cell phone and refuse to answer email over a weekend. And some clients have the nerve to be put out that I would dare to take some time away. I think high-tech gadgets are a wonderful addition to the workplace, so long as they don't take over your life. Find appropriate times to answer the phone or reply to an email, and try to keep your head in the meeting or task at hand. Your clients will appreciate it.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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