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Switch off and get creative


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Switching off. Does your BlackBerry need a holiday?

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Biz Traveller
Chicago (Illinois)
Golf

LONDON, England -- Checking in a BlackBerry or laptop for a break in the hotel safe could help business travelers boost their creativity and beat 'techno-stress,' it has been claimed.

The Sheraton Chicago hotel is leading the way by offering to lock up communication devices, allowing guests to concentrate on eyeball-to-eyeball meetings and socializing.

Business guru Professor Cary Cooper -- an expert on stress -- applauds the idea. "The hotel is making people aware of the frenetic lives they lead."

Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University in England believes BlackBerrys and wireless laptops are a major contributor towards "techno-stress."

"These devices have made us accessible 24/7. Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once predicted that the 21st century technology would see us all working 15 to 20 hours a week. But rather than being a support system, technology demands an immediacy of response. We're working longer hours then we ever have."

Cooper believes that a constant need to check emails has a negative effect on creativity. "Constantly responding to email affects the quality of decision making and inhibits good team building. Email allows you to keep dumping on other people."

"If you ask people to name a major source of stress, apart from the big things like redundancy, they'll say checking their email. Email is managing us."

Reaching for the off-switch on his BlackBerry has transformed Sheraton Chicago hotel general manager Rick Ueno's life. He told Reuters: "I run a hotel with over 900 employees and thousands of guests. I think I'm more effective. I feel better, I sleep better. My family likes it."

He thinks his guests should try it too. Other hotels aren't quite so sure their guests are ready to go cold turkey.

A spokeswoman for five-star hotel, The Landmark London, said that it provided specially designed laptop safes in every room. "Our business guests can hide away their computers in their own bedroom if they wish to, but this also means that they also have easy access to their technology 24/7.

" The Landmark is an incredibly luxurious and relaxing place to stay,so we believe that our guests can be connected to their technology and still be relaxed at the same time."

At the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland -- which hosted the G8 Summit in 2005 -- a spokesman said guests tended to forget about their BlackBerry's because of the golf course. "Naturally we have top class facilities although the idea of having a quiet space or locking up your BlackBerry is a good idea.

"Having said that we haven't been asked because our stunning location makes it pretty easy for people to forget about work and head out for a walk or a game of golf."

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