Ever since mobile devices became a widespread commodity, professionals have been using them, to some extent, to help them get their work done. As technology has advanced so have the number of ways you can use your mobile device in the workplace, but for many professional moms who work outside of the home that technology wasn’t used to its full potential until the pandemic hit in early 2020.
In July of 2020, just four months into the COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantining, The Mom Project surveyed 1,000 professional women to find out if their use of mobile devices in the workplace had changed at all from their pre-pandemic usage. Unsurprisingly, there was a 70% increase in the number of women who reported doing more than half of their work on a mobile device since the start of the pandemic. Notably, however, there was an 80% increase in usage among women professionals who are also mothers.
In the months since July 2020, companies and employees have had to continue to adapt to the changing workplace environment, and a lot of them have opted to stick with remote work rather than return to an on-site office. While having the option to work from home is helpful to a lot of working parents (during a pandemic or not), the drawback of the arrangement is that the line between home-life and work-life often gets blurred. Additionally, with the flexibility that comes with being able to do more than half of your job from a mobile device, comes greater accessibility.
Having the ability to deliver quality work efficiently while you’re on the go is a huge advantage for parents, but in order to be successful, you need to create a defined line between work and home and establish realistic boundaries around your mobile device usage.
When it makes sense
As moms, any technology that allows us to multitask as we manage both family and work is a small blessing. We are often pulled in opposite directions and feel like we can’t succeed in one without coming up short in the other and having the ability to help kids with their homework while also meeting a work deadline is a huge advantage to our lifestyles. So, it’s fair to argue that the increase in mobile device usage for work among mothers is a direct result of the added family responsibility many moms took on during the pandemic.
In the survey, 52% of women said that using their mobile device to get work done allows them to feel both more productive and more connected and the leading reason why they are doing so much work from their mobile device is that it allows them to respond in a timely manner. Given this information, here are some circumstances where it makes sense to turn your mobile device on and rely on it to get some work done:
1. Tight Spots
When you’re in a tight spot as a mom, such as having to take your child to the doctor unexpectedly in the middle of the workday or, like so many moms have experienced since the start of the pandemic, when you’re trying to balance work and parenting responsibilities that both take priority like a hard deadline and helping your child attend school virtually.
2. Working alongside your child
When you’re working from home while your child is there with you. Whether you work from home regularly or on a case-by-case basis, if you’re trying to do it while your child is also home with you, your attention is split so having the ability to take your device from room to room is a huge benefit.
3. On the go
When you’re on the go. Maybe you’re sitting in the car pickup line for school or waiting for your groceries to be brought to your car, these are situations where you have the time to get some work done but you’re not able to physically be at a workstation, so your mobile device basically becomes your portable desk.
There are plenty of other times where it makes sense to have your mobile device with you so you can get some work done, and some days you may need to rely on the device more than others. There aren’t any hard and fast rules here, the key is to be able to identify the point where you need to put the device down so you can give your family or yourself the bulk of your attention.
Working from a mobile device is only helpful if you can do it easily and efficiently, otherwise, it’s just more work than necessary. Many of the apps and platforms you use on your work laptop or desktop can be downloaded onto your tablet or phone, allowing you to streamline your work whether you’re in the office or on the go. Additionally, there are a handful of other great apps that you can use to make working from a mobile device easier and keep things looking just as professional to your clients as they would if you were doing your work from a desk.
The benefits of being able to work on the go are practically immeasurable for moms who work outside of the home, but there is still the risk of not knowing when to unplug or even feeling like you can’t unplug. In fact, 72% of the women we surveyed reported they feel more pressure to stay online because of the ability to work from a mobile device.
This is where it’s important to set boundaries around your mobile device usage when it comes to working. If you have trouble actually following through on the boundaries you’ve created, consider turning off notifications on the apps you use for work at the end of a workday. Actively going through the process can start to feel like a routine similar to shutting down your computer and leaving your office for the day. This will not only help you feel like you’re “logging off” from work, but it will also ensure you don’t see any new emails, IMs, or other notifications from work until you “log in” again the next day.
Steps for turning off notifications on an iPhone/iPad (can vary by model):
1. Open the "Settings" app
2. Tap "Notifications" on the left side of the screen
3. Scroll through your individual apps and turn off notifications as needed
Steps for turning off notifications on an Android (can vary by model):
1. Open the "Settings" app
2. Tap "Apps & Notifications"
3. Tap "Notifications"
4. Use the "Recently Sent" menu to manage apps that have sent notifications in the last 7 days OR tap "See All" to manage all apps
5. Tap "Advanced" to turn off select notifications for an app (if you don't want to turn off all notifications)
Take advantage of the benefit
Yes, you do need to set limits and boundaries around using your mobile device for work, but you should absolutely still make use of this technology and enjoy all of the flexibility and perks that come along with it. It allows you the freedom to better manage your responsibilities as a mom and as a professional simultaneously without sacrificing quality on either end. It’s no wonder 80% of professional moms have shifted to doing more than half of their work this way because pandemic or not it’s a total game-changer and has the potential to significantly improve your (and possibly your family’s) quality of life.
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