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A recent survey by RIM found an average BlackBerry user converts one hour of downtime to productive time each day and ups their overall team efficiency by 38 percent.

All of ZDNet.co.uk's sister site silicon.com's 12-strong CIO Jury IT user panel agreed that BlackBerry devices and smartphones have improved their productivity but warned it can have a negative impact on work/life balance without judicious use of the off-switch.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, chief information officer at Sodexho UK, said: "Improvement in productivity has been huge — the ability to respond immediately has been a real bonus for the company. Work/life balance swings dramatically to the company side of the scales."

Alan Shrimpton, IT director at Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said: "I can now use downtime — waiting to collect daughters, train journeys — to continue to read and action emails, which means I don't have a huge queue waiting for me when I'm next in the office. It has, however, extended my working day."

Dialogue Box
Dialogue Box 4.10: Windows Mobile vs the 3G iPhone

Rupert and Charles look at two of the latest Windows Mobile smartphones, to see how they match up to Apple's iPhone 3G

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But for others the ability to use mobile devices and check and respond to email on the move reduces stress. Steve Gediking, head of IT and facilities at the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said his latest PDA has given him an efficiency gain of about half an hour a day using otherwise dead time.

He said: "For example, after a recent long weekend, I would normally have returned to around 150 emails. Instead, I spent an hour on my PDA the night before I was due back into work and the next morning I walked in to only six mails that required attention. Not only did this make me more efficient but it totally reduced my stress levels."

For one IT director the BlackBerry has replaced the need to take a laptop for many work trips. Michael Elliot, IT...
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