Gadgets blur lines of home and office

Gadgets blur lines of home and office

Digital technology in the workplace — email, Internet access and smartphones — increases worker productivity and flexibility but possibly at a price: a longer workday.

Nearly half of workers who use online and digital tools (46 percent) say they feel more productive, a new Pew Research Center report said. And about four in 10 (39 percent) say the Internet, email and phones give them added flexibility in the hours they work. But almost as many (35 percent) say they are working more hours because of digital tools.

“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.”

While this report was not constructed to find definitive data about whether people are working more than in the past, those who participated in the survey feel like they are, he said. “They feel more ‘on call' when it's possible for their bosses to yank the electronic leash and email them after hours or call their smartphone while they are on vacation,” Rainie said.

Employers are worried about what their workers could say online, too, he said. “This is an environment where everyone is a broadcaster or publisher, and they can create a lot of woe for their employers if they say nasty or risqué or crazy things about where they work,” Rainie said. “In the pre-Internet era, brand managers and communicators were entrusted with telling a company's story. Now, every worker with a Facebook or Twitter account can conceivably move the market and affect a firm's reputation.”


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