Networked Workers - A Mixed Blessing Says NFP Study
6 October 2008 at 4:21 pm
Networked Workers are those workers who use the internet or email at their jobs, but they say these technologies are a mixed blessing for them.
A research study called the Pew Internet & American Life Project says the majority of employed adults (62%) use the internet or email at their job, and many have cell phones and Blackberries that keep them connected even when they are not at work.
Working Americans express mixed views about the impact of technology on their work lives.
On the one hand, they cite the benefits of increased connectivity and flexibility that the internet and all of their various gadgets afford them at work. On the other hand, many workers say these tools have added stress and new demands to their lives.
One of the major impacts of the internet and cell phones is that they have enabled more people to do work at least occasionally from home. Some 45% of employed Americans report doing at least some work from home and 18% of working Americans say they do job-related tasks at home almost daily.
The Pew Internet Project is an initiative of the Pew Research Centre, a Not for Profit
“fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. Pew Internet explores the impact of the internet on children, families, communities, the work place, schools, health care and civic/political life.
Since 2002, working Americans have become more likely to check their work-related
email on weekends, on vacation and before and after they go to work for the day.
– 50% of employed email users say they check their work-related email on the weekends.
– Fully 22% say that they check their work email accounts “often” during weekend hours, compared with 16% who reported the same in 2002.
– 46% of employed email users say they check email when they have to take a sick day; 25% say they do so “often.”
– 34% of employed email users say they will at least occasionally check their email while on vacation; 11% say they do so “often.”
– The more money an employee earns, the more closely he or she monitors work email accounts.
Among Blackberry and PDA owners, all of these numbers are much higher. Checking
work-related email outside of normal working hours is the norm for many of these gadget users, even during weekends and vacation time.
The off-hours checking of work-related email is not an act generated solely by the volition of the employee. Some 22% of employed email users say they are expected to read and respond to work-related emails, even when they are not at work. Blackberry and PDA owners are more than twice as likely to report that their employer expects that they will stay tuned in to email outside of the office.
Fully 48% say they are required to read and respond to email when they are away from work.
Most employed email users do not believe that using email has increased the amount of time they spend working overall. Just 17% attribute some increase to email, while 6% feel as though email has actually cut down the amount of time they spend working.
Shopping is among the most popular online leisure activities at work, with 22% of employed internet users reporting at least some at-work purchasing. At the other end of the spectrum, activities such as online gaming and blogging typically happen at home.
Blogging is equally prevalent among employed internet users as it has been among the general population; 12% of employed Americans who use the internet and the same number of all online Americans have created or worked on a blog. Just 2% of employed internet users say they blog at work.
Working men and women are equally as likely to blog, but young adults far outpace older workers in their engagement with blogging. Employed internet users ages 18-29 are more than twice as likely to blog when compared with 30-49 year olds (20% vs. 9%).
However, young adults are no more likely to report at-work tending to their blog; just 2% say they blog from work.
Blog reading is also most prevalent among younger generations of employed internet
users. One in three internet-using employees (33%) say they have read someone else’s blog or online journal, and 11% report at least some at-work reading. However, among young working adults, 46% are blog readers, compared with 33% of 30-49 year olds and 25% of employed internet users ages 50-64. At-work blog reading is equally prevalent among all of these groups.
The full Report can be downloaded at: