Digital technology continues to improve each and every year, providing new and innovative ways to connect individuals to the world around us. Technology in the workplace such as email, Internet access and smartphones, in particular continues to increase both the productivity of work, while at the same time increasing the flexibility businesses can offer employees. However, this comes with the price of a much longer workday.
In a recent report from the Pew Research Center, 46% of workers who use online and digital tools say they feel more productive and 39% say the Internet, email and access to these tools via their smartphones gives them more flexibility with the hours they work.
But, more than a third of those interviewed (35%) say they are working more hours because of these digital tools that are available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
"The once rigid boundary between 'work' and 'home' has changed to something that is highly permeable," said Lee Rainie, Pew's director of Internet, science, and technology research. "People do lots of work at home and they do some home-related things at work - like shop, browse the web, watch March Madness on their mobile devices in their cubicles."
The Pew Research Center surveyed more than 1,000 adults that use digital technology such as smartphones, and focused on 535 adults who worked full or part time.
Though the report itself wasn't structured to gather definitive data about whether people are actually working more than in the past, many who responded said they feel like they are. "They feel more 'on call' when it's possible for their bosses to yank the electronic leash and e-mail them after hours or call their smartphone while they are on vacation," Rainie says.
According to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, people in the United States work 1,790 hours each year, which is higher than the average of 1,765 hours found across the world. On average about 9% of workers worldwide work very long hours, but in the U.S. 11% of workers must work long hours. Of the technology available, email continues to reign supreme as one of the most important tools available to workers with the Internet ranked as the next most important followed by landline telephones, then cell phones and, finally, social media sites.
More than half of workers surveyed (51%) said the Internet has expanded the number of people outside of their company that they communicate with on a regular basis. This added communication could quickly eat up valuable time, forcing employees to work longer to accomplish their goals and fulfill their responsibilities to their organization.
Technology has and will continue how we conduct business and work. Already, it has allowed us much more flexibility in our work schedules. At the same time, the ability to remain constantly connected makes many workers feel they are working more than they ever have before, despite the added flexibility this new technology has allowed.