Canada & Its BlackBerry Crisis

What is it about the air in Canada that makes people so attached to their BlackBerrys?

Is it the cold? The hundreds of thousands of trees and densely untouched rugged terrain?

Do the lights go out at 6pm up there?

What the heck is going on?

First the Canadian government ministry issued an ‘advisory’ to its employees to lay off the smartphone devices on nights, weekends and holidays. The effort by Citizenship and Immigration Canada was focused on getting a good balance between work and life demands.

It actually specified turning off BlackBerrys between 7pm and 7am and says doing so will spur productivity and even attract employees. It also asked employees not to use them during meetings or during lunch times.

Now another Canadian enterprise, DDB Canada, a marketing company, has taken the “quell BlackBerry use” movement even further.

Calling the overuse of devices a “personal digital assistant pandemic” CEO Frank Palmer has issued a company wide policy that “creatively” discourages PDA and Black Berry use at certain times in the workday.

In published reports (several attempts to talk with Palmer or get email questions answered were unfruitful — maybe he’s having issues with his BlackBerry?) the company leader stated:

“Over the past year, I’ve become increasingly aware of and annoyed by staff who use their BlackBerries during meetings. Whether it’s done openly or covertly under the table, using a PDA during a meeting is completely unacceptable, disrespectful and hinders the progress of the meeting. While these devices are considered time-savers, they���re also extremely intrusive.”

The policy is sort of a take-off of soccer rules.

Employees caught using a PDA in a meeting are issued a yellow warning card (by a fellow staff member at the same meeting)

A second yellow offense will result in the issuing of a red penalty card.

A red penalty card means the employee must pay for their PDA invoice for that month.

“While most staff are attentive and courteous during meetings, there are a few that continue to use their PDAs when they shouldn’t. This could turn out to be an expensive, yet worthwhile etiquette lesson for those who continue to use their BlackBerry in the boardroom,” stated the CEO.

I see two direct results from the BlackBerry crackdown: fewer CrackBerry thumb injuries and very likely a huge baby boom in Canada come next year.

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