Mobiles make us work three extra weeks a year

Technology is blurring the line between work and leisure. It's proving a boon to career development - but is it good for us?

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 05 Jul 2011
It’s no huge surprise to learn that we’re logging on more, but did you realise quite how much more? Apparently, thanks to mobile communications, managers are now spending two and a half hours a week on work-related stuff outside the office. That adds up to around three weeks a year – more or less equivalent to what most of them are probably taking as holiday…

That’s according to the Chartered Management Institute, which surveyed 2,000 workers and found people are using their mobile devices for researching, reading and learning for work on their own time – doing career development stuff, and checking out what’s happening in their industry.
In a way that sounds very positive. What better way out of an economic mess than having everyone throwing themselves into self-improvement? And voluntarily too, which is a very good state of affairs.

Yet we can’t help thinking there’s something unhealthy about all this: of the 76% of managers who use devices including smartphones, laptops or tablets for work, 49% are checking their emails just before going to sleep at night, and 24% do it again before getting out of bed in the morning. That can’t be good for you. More surprising, 22% of managers monitor emails when they’re out with their mates, and 9% even do so on dates. Is nothing sacred?

And it’s not just emails: 59% of managers visit work-related websites outside work, 32% read related magazines and journals, 30% work-related books; 12% use social media for work and 9% access professional apps. Meanwhile almost a third attend work-related events or training sessions in the evening or at weekends. And when you then factor in all the reading, researching, emailing and networking going on while commuting (during which 24% read management books and 19% use smartphone app), that working day is gradually spreading further and further past the confines of the old-fashioned nine-to-five.

Time perhaps for Dolly Parton to rework her classic anthem on the trials of the daily grind. How about: ‘Working seven to seven, check my messages at 11...’

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