Wired workers never catch a break

Summary:The once-clear boundary between work and non-work hours has long since begun eroding, and those of you on your PDAs, right now, today, are very much the guinea pigs as to the long term effects.

It's not news that BlackBerrys and other handheld devices are mixed blessings for workers, as most find themselves torn between enjoying their technology-addled freedom from their cubicle confines but also feel like they pretty much never stop working.

A new study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project evidences that this ambivalence is going nowhere. Looking at the way people use their workplace technologies and how they affect their lives, the report found workers expressing mixed views about technology's impact. Though they liked the benefits of increased connectivity and the flexibility that these wireless gagets afforded them at work, they were working from home more than ever before. Some 45 percent of employed Americans reported doing at least some work from home and 18 percent said they did job-related tasks at home almost daily.

However, it is not only BlackBerrys and other handheld devices that are to blame. The Pew report points to the growing population of workers who are "wired and ready". 86 percent of employed Americans use the internet or email at least occasionally, 81 percent have some sort of email account and 89 percent have cell phones. And 73 percent have all three of the technological tools that can keep them connected outside their regular working hours.

With these technological tools in place, nearly half felt that that their job's demands on their free time had intensified. The more hours they already worked (those in the 50 hours per week and more category), the higher they felt the expectation was that they'd be "on" all of the time.

So what gives? Will everyone be working from everywhere all of the time in the future? This remains to be seen. What is clear is that the once-clear boundary between work and non-work hours has long since begun eroding, and those of you on your PDAs, right now, today, are very much the guinea pigs as to its long term effects.

Tell us, if you had the option today of retiring your BlackBerry forever in exchange for five hours extra at the office each week, would you? What if it was ten hours?

Topics: BlackBerry, CXO, Hardware, IT Employment, Mobility

About

Deb Perelman is a journalist in New York City with a focus on tech and the daily grind. Previously she was a reporter for eWEEK, leading the magazine and Web site's coverage of the issue and trends that affect IT workers.

Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.