We’re doomed. In a pleasant way, by our new favorite mobile technology pals, but still doomed. That’s the conclusion of some new studies into how we’re obsessively letting our new toys upset the gentle flow of everyday life. And because Apple drove the new mobile Net revolution, and now the tablet phenomenon, we can basically blame Steve Jobs for it all.
iPass has been investigating how mobile workers use their devices, and their conclusions in the new Mobile Workforce Report swing conclusively in the direction of tablet PCs: 41% of mobile workers have a tablet, and another 34% plan on buying one inside six months…meaning that soon enough 75% of ’em will be equipped. For those that have them already, 87% use them for at least “some” work, which nicely dispels some of those myths they’re merely content consumption devices.
iPass has also looked at mobile workers (becoming a more common feature in today’s digital world) and discovered they work on average an extra 240 hours a year compared to their static colleagues, and they value the Net that’s the lifeline to the world/office/family/entertainment so much that 68% of them will pay for a faster connection even if a free one’s available.
And being a mobile worker is terrible for relaxation–those precious moments when you’re disconnected from the office: 43% will keep their smartphone within reach while they sleep. These folk are 60% more likely to wake to check on their phones than average wakefulness. Younger workers (aged 22-34) are the worst at this, with 77% keeping their phone in the bedroom, 60% within arm’s reach. 8% of all mobile workers wake every night to check their phone, mainly because 44% of them are worried about work even when not working.
Sleep therapists and counselors specializing in work-life balance will be clapping their palms to their foreheads at this news–although it’s perhaps not overly surprising. We know the online world is penetrating more and more into our off-line world, and the smartphone (and now the seductive, big screened tablet) are prefect vectors for this infection. It’s just surprising that the statistics are so sharp–though the fact that it’s for mobile workers, whose office tends to be a vague amalgam of their laptop/smartphone/tablet/net-connections compared to static workers may help with balancing these statistics as being representative or not.
The problem is that other data at the moment does little to contradict these findings–and it’s not just about the mobile workforce: desktop work is changing too. The head of communications at the U.K.’s technology sector trade entity Intellect, Tony Henderson, is in the news this week because he has challenging words for corporate IT buyers and IT department heads: In the future, employees are going to want to being their own tech into work and use it for tasks instead of the usual boring black-box corporate desktops.
It’s a revolution driven by two things: increasing personal use of technology, and increasingly mobile solutions–which can often be more user-friendly than locked-down enterprise PCs, because the employees themselves chose UIs that they preferred. Basically it’s all thanks to the tablet revolution, and this is all thanks to, really, the iPad, the iPhone and the Android Army of mobile devices (a wave of change that’s also propelling Apple into a much bigger workplace role than ever before–at Microsoft’s expense). And this kind of change is only going to worsen the work-life balance issues highlighted by iPass’s survey–after all, one of the big benefits of a work PC is that it stays at work.