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Mobile workers' workdays now 24-hour affairs: study

Posting in Technology

Survey of mobile workers finds many working after work, after dinner, and even into the night. But they're working smarter.

Is "downtime" now a relic of the past?

iPass has issued its "Global Mobile Workforce Report," based on input from 3,100 workers at 1,100 enterprises worldwide. There's bad news and good news in the data.

First, the bad news: Downtime has vanished, and work has spilled into every aspect of personal time.

As the report's authors put it:

"Last quarter we declared the end of downtime, as 91% of mobile workers admitted they checked their smartphones during their otherwise unoccupied moments of the day. This quarter we asked specifically when these mobile workers were doing their work. Not only were they checking their email first thing in the morning, 38% worked before their commute, 25% during their commute, and 22% worked again on the way home—each and every day. And they didn’t stop when they got home either. For many, work is a never-ending cycle; 37% work each evening —33% work again when they arrived home, 26% after dinner, and 19% said they work again after they put their children to bed at night."

Almost half, 49%, even said "they would work in the middle of the night when they were unable to sleep, at least on an occasional basis."

Wow. It almost sounds like people are on edge -- worried about their jobs in a rough-and-tumble economy.

Now the good news: Mobile and Internet technology now enables people to keep in touch with their work anywhere, anytime -- and also work smarter. The study's authors suggest that today's connected workers are more productive and efficient, they are finally starting to get a handle on their work/life boundaries.

In fact, the survey finds, 68% of mobile workers actually find time to pull away from their devices, up from 47% a year ago. Seventy-five percent chose to work more hours because of the increased flexibility in when and where they could work. In fact, 54% felt their productivity was substantially improved, the report finds.

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Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure