Pew On Networked Workers: Connected, Distracted, Ambivalent

The Pew Internet Project has just put out its latest survey of technology adoption and usage: “Networked Workers.” Conducted in March and April of this year, among 2,134 US adults, the findings are not explicitly about search. The data concern use of the internet and mobile devices at work and at home and the bridging of those worlds accordingly. The survey data reflect that these technologies have at once created more flexibility for American workers but also caused ambivalence about their impact on our personal lives.

Below are some highlights and excerpts from the document, which can be downloaded from the Pew site.

Just over 60% of employed American adults are considered “Networked Workers” who use the internet or email at their workplace. They’re more involved with technology than others:

–93% own a cell phone, compared with 78% of all American adults. –85% own a desktop computer, compared with 65% of all adults. –61% own a laptop computer, compared with 39% of all adults. –27% own a Blackberry, Palm or other personal digital assistant, compared with 13% of all adults.

Networked Workers work at home more than the general, employed population.

Technology has improved productivity and offers more flexibility

–80% say these technologies have improved their ability to do their job. –73% say these technologies have improved their ability to share ideas with co-workers. –58% say these tools have allowed them more flexibility in the hours they work.

Technology has created more demands on workers’ time

Many of the survey respondents expressed ambivalence about the impact of these technologies on their lives. For example, “Among those who work in professional and managerial positions, 59% say these demands have increased, as do 56% of those who work more than 40 hours per week . . . ” and “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.”

In addition:

–46% say these technologies increase demands that they work more hours. –49% say these technologies increase the level of stress in their job. –49% say these technologies make it harder for them to disconnect from their work when they are at home and on the weekends.

Here are some additional data points about usage frequency and online activities, indicating many workers are doing more than “work” during the work day:

Picture 13

Picture 12

Given that people are unlikely to admit to the full extent of their personal activities on work time, it’s likely that the data in the chart above under-report the frequency and extent of those activities.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Stats: General

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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