Can you run a business purely from your smartphone?

Whether it’s an Apple iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy or a Sony Xperia, the smartphone is now an essential piece of kit for every entrepreneur. 

It means sending emails, doing internet research and making notes is possible with the swipe of a finger – and made even easier with the introduction of digital personal assistants like Siri and Cortana.

As the capability of smartphones continues to soar, more and more business leaders are admitting that they do the majority of their work from their handheld gadgets.

In fact, a survey carried out by Forbes Insights for Google showed that nine out of ten executives used smartphones for business, even while they were in the office, and some 10 per cent said smartphones were their exclusive device used for decision making.

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What does it all mean?

So what does this growing trend mean for businesses of the future? Do companies that don’t want to get left behind have to say goodbye to offices and desktop computers, and simply give staff a smartphone and let them work from anywhere?

Well, according to Ulrik Nehammer, GM at Coca Cola, the answer is yes. "Today I run most of my business from my smartphone," he said, adding: "The most dangerous place to make a decision is within the office."

Nehammer’s comments are interesting because they highlight a reason for the growing popularity of using smartphones which exceeds more than just convenience.

Read: The tech trends that are transforming the way every business works

A new type of freedom

Using a your phone to run your business means you can essentially work from anywhere, as long as there’s Wi-Fi or 4G connectivity. With this comes a new type of freedom – not just from the confines of a stale office building, but creative freedom too.

The opportunity to work from wherever you choose – whether that’s a coffee shop, a beach or your bed – means being able to work wherever you feel most inspired. And you don’t need us to tell you that inspired employees tend to come up with the best, most successful ideas.

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Harder to 'switch off'

However, alongside the advantages that smartphones bring, there are also some concerns.

Running a business from a smartphone, and shunning the typical office-based nine to five role, can mean being 'on call' 24/7 and rarely having the opportunity to unplug and switch off from the stresses and strains that inevitably come with being a business leader.

Needless to say, this can have a negative impact on our stress levels and our overall wellbeing. According to Adrian Furnham, professor of psychology at University College London, smartphones can be "as much a blessing as a curse" as employees who use them find it hard to switch off.

Read: How new tech is transforming office dynamics

Best of both worlds

He says: "In trying to make people more productive, such as by giving them electronic gizmos, you make them less so. Our grandparents knew this, but they chose different metaphors. All work and no play makes Jack a less productive, anxiety- and error-prone ruminator."

There are also other issues to consider. For instance, it can be challenging to work collaboratively via a smartphone as editing documents and typing while talking on the phone can be more difficult than it would be if sitting at a desk and using a desktop computer.

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However, better apps and bigger screens along with developments in AI are likely to help with these problems as time goes by.

The problem of stressed, hyperconnected employees is a more complicated one to solve. While the opportunities and advantages that running a business from a smartphone are clear, businesses of the future will also have to invest time and money in helping their people learn how to separate work and leisure.

As Adrian puts it, staff need to "be encouraged, given permission, and taught how to relax, but also to take time out, enjoying friends and family."

After all, a frazzled employee is an unhappy and ultimately less productive employee – and that’s not just bad for health and wellbeing, but bad for business, too. 

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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