Wired workers never catch a break

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, Mobility, IT Employment

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  • .....

    Well if you are dumb enough to keep the damn thing with you all the time and even dumber to continually keep checking it then you get what you deserve.

    Failure to establish solid boundaries between work and private life is your fault. And don't give me this crap about "I need to do it to keep my job!" Bullshyte. Stand up for yourself and understand that as a worker you have rights. If you fail to uphold those rights then no pity for you.

    By the way. I work 8 hours a day. Have no cell phone and no PDA. When I go home I am off for the day and my job, complete or not for the day, is at the office waiting for me. That is how you run you life and stay happy. ]:)
    Linux User 147560
    • Wired Workers

      Depends who you are. Some of us have multiple networks that need to be up at all times. It's part of the job and we need to know when things are down.

      I have no problem being connected. I'm on anyway, doesn't matter if it's for work or not. I feel I'm paid well enough to do it.
    • i couldn't agree more,

      so often people looks like they live for their work, instead of working for living.

      except for emergency doctors, firefighters, and police... and even them should have the change to completly disconect from work.
  • Hate to be a grammer Nazi...

    ...but there are two really jarring mistakes in the article.

    First, "technology addled freedom"? :) Ok, this one could be a freudian slip or subtle humor but "evidences" isn't a verb, perhaps "provides evidence"?

    I guess editors are now considered non-essential personnel at zdnet these days.
    • wolf_z = fail

      www.Dictionary.com - it's your friend.

      tr.v. ev?i?denced, ev?i?denc?ing, ev?i?denc?es

      1. To indicate clearly; exemplify or prove.
      2. To support by testimony; attest.

      ?verb (used with object)
      4. to make evident or clear; show clearly; manifest: He evidenced his approval by promising his full support.
      5. to support by evidence: He evidenced his accusation with incriminating letters.
    • You mean Grammar, right?

      Your "grammer" might be right, but you're spelling is not :-) BTW, "evidence" is also commonly used as a verb...
      Be thankful readers are editing your editing :-)
      • Grammar includes "your" vs. "you're"

        Say, in your critique of the author's grammar, you realize you wrote "you're spelling" instead of "your spelling"... just sayin'. ;)
  • Hate to be a spelling Nazi...

    But it's not grammer. It's grammar :-)

    Opps, meant that for you wolf_z
    • FTW!

      It's "Oops", not "Opps". :)
  • RE: FTW!


    Arrg! I did it again.
  • It's going to depend

    It's going to depend on the work rules surrounding each person's use of the Blackberry, as well as the amount of email being received from it. For those who are expected to be available at a moment's notice and are constantly getting interrupted by it, then I'd say it's a safe bet they'd like to put some distance between them and the device. For those of us who aren't as strictly ruled by it (or constantly interrupted by it), it's definitely a convenience.

    With my situation, I wouldn't trade it for more time at work. It allows me to spend less time at work and more time at home, all while still being available if needed.
  • People get exactly what they ask for.

  • RE: Wired workers never catch a break

    I probably do more read and delete off my PDA than anything else, getting rid of junk. I will say that when you try and take a day off, that is when it becomes more of a burden than a blessing.

    Society is too impatient as a result. If you don't respond to an email within 15 minutes nowadays, people think something is wrong.
  • RE: Wired workers never catch a break

    I work a basic 8 to 5 job. My boss understands that there may be some extra time involved. We agree that it is not some thing that will become a regular thing. If he needs me to work extra hours ( nights, weekends, what ever ), then he and I work out before hand what is reasonable "Compensation" for this extra time. Normally I choose to take some extra days off. He gets his project done and I get a day off. We both win.
    • Lucky

      I am not so lucky, our management doesn't recognize the amount of hours that I spend each evening performing tasks that could not be performed during the day without affecting client performance. I spend about an extra 10 hours average per week connecting remotely from home on top of that I upgraded my internet connection specifically to obtain a faster connection. That's not to mention calls and e-mails recieved to my company cell phone!
  • Argh. :)

    Ok, fair cop, guv.

    But I stand by the other.

    Edit: Can't seem to press the right button either. :) Meant for EJHonda
    • No worries...

      I've had days posting like that, too. I wish ZDNet let you edit posts - it seems like you notice those mistakes JUST after you post it.

      No harm intended. :)
  • Diminishing returns

    I used to work in a situation where I had a corporate beeper (and then a cell phone in the 21st Century) that I would hold for 10 days a month. I was required, and I was told this before I accepted the position, to be available 24/7 for those 10 days with no exception. It did not matter if it was a weekend or holiday. I was expected to plan my vacation around that 10 day window or find someone to cover for me. The rest of the month it was an 8 to 5 gig. I knew this going in and I was paid well for my services, but I didn't like it much.

    But after 15 years I found a situation that did not require me to be available 10 days a month, 24/7 etc. The situation paid less but the general expectation was that I would work 99% Monday-Friday, maybe 9 to 10 hours a day. I had all the holidays to myself, most weekends too and I never worry about vacation planning. I make over $12,000 less per year than I did in my previous position, and I have never been happier.

    If you accept the job, then accept the reality of what you agree to and realize that when people say they are hiring you to work round the clock, believe it. Sometimes, we accept a situation and hope it will not require the 24/7 thing, but if you were told this would happen then either accept it or move on.

    Good luck.
    • Such a simple concept...

      money really doesn't equate to happiness or quality of life... if you have no time off, how can you reasonably enjoy life? Seems you figured that out... good on you! ]:)
      Linux User 147560
  • RE: Wired workers never catch a break

    I used to have a blackberry, I gave it back. I carry a cell phone now and have set the expectation that if it's important, call don't e-mail. If it's really important (eg. production system down), call the help desk and they will page our on call person; I am the on-call person every 5th week. Every one on the team has a laptop and the company pays for their home internet connection for the on call requirements. Additionally, a pager and a cellular modem card rotates with each on call person. That way, the "stay connected" requirement is only if there is a specific incident that requires immediate attention.