Yup. That’s just what the CEO of a Chicago-based PR firm called Empower recently did. He set a bold mandate within his company against using these addictive mobile communication devices (outside of work) and believes it has helped to improve both his business and relationship with wife and kids. Read yesterday's New York Times article to get the total story.
Being in a similar position (to this CEO), I can empathize and am often conflicted about how my BlackBerry tends to control me (versus the other way around). On the one hand, it does make me more efficient and provide greater ease in how I communicate. The latest 8800 model (sorry, but this isn't meant to be a plug) is an all purpose "Swiss Army knife" like device. Now I have one PDA for phone, a great device to roam the internet and, of, course... there's that immediate email gratification.
My greatest need for these efficiencies comes with the requirement to communicate with two offices (London and San Francisco) where Peppercommers don't start or end the day when the main NYC office does. Does it help to better serve clients as well? Sure. But, I find the most important benefits are definitely internal.
Although, with one client it does make a difference. Through a Peppercom partnership with Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, we man a 24/7 hotline in the event that their customers have a disaster and need our counsel. Because the calls come directly to our BlackBerrys, we can be out to dinner, working out, or anywhere, and receive instant notification. That's a big plus.
On the other hand, I won't lie. The back and forth on irrelevant subjects among our management team (after work hours) only serves to waste time and can be frustrating for many. Every once in a while, an email is misunderstood, someone is annoyed and fruitless back and forth’s occur that would never had happened if we were BlackBerry-less.
I find that I've definitely changed my habits over the last few months to not be as manic about returning emails (I typically put it down at 9pm and don't touch it again until the next morning). I would guess that my wife sees the difference and appreciates it.
Some executives do have serious BlackBerry separation issues though (I won't name them though). But, all in all, this technology is a huge positive for our client serving workplace. I just wish my wife would stop referring to it as Ed's "significant other," though.