Business - Written by Naumi Haque on Tuesday, December 18, 2007 17:57 - 5 Comments
Work, work, work… let’s go back to rockin’ like the 70’s
The Net Generation is online at work and working at home. The combination of 1) Net Geners entering the workforce in growing numbers and 2) the pervasiveness of mobile technologies is causing a blurring between work time and personal time. On one hand, workers are demanding flexible work schedules, the opportunity to work from home, and a less draconian approach to time management while in the office. However, the irony is that the tools that enable mobility and flexibility are the same technologies that bind employees to an always-on, always connected virtual office.
Just like everything else, the chains too have become virtual. So, for example, an employee with a company-owned Blackberry or laptop has the ability to use the device for personal or work use, from any number of locations (home, the office, the train, or Starbucks), at whatever time suits their schedule. But, it’s a double edged sword. The employee’s boss and co-workers also have the ability to reach them anywhere and at any time, and may even expect a prompt response.
Given this paradox (especially among knowledge workers), it becomes very difficult to measure things like work hours, worker productivity, and work/life balance. As a society, are we getting lazier or working harder? Are we more efficient or simply defining work differently? These are the thoughts that went through my mind as I looked at some of the more recent data on time use in North America.
For example, Burst Media recently reported that 26% of “online at-work” time is spent on personal use and not work-related activities. Among 18 to 24 year-olds, personal use comprises a whopping 34% of online activities while at the office. But does this mean that Net Geners are lazy (i.e. the “bored at work generation” phenomenon)? Maybe; however, it could also mean that work time and personal time are fluid concepts to this demographic and there is an equal or greater amount of time spent working from home in the evenings or on weekends. This could be why three-quarters of respondents to the Burst Media survey reported not feeling guilty about using the Internet for personal use while on the company dime.
The 2006 U.S. Department of Labor Time Use Survey show that the average full-time employee works 8.1 hours per day. The average workday is 8.5 hours long Monday to Friday, but 35% of all respondents also report working on weekends and holidays during which the average workday is 5.6 hours. Among those respondents with Bachelor’s degrees and higher (presumably encompassing the knowledge worker demographic), 39% report working on weekends and holidays for an average of 3.9 hours per day. Additionally, 37% of employees with a Bachelor’s degree or higher work from home for an average of 2.7 hours per day.
Of course, it’s really hard to dig into the numbers without knowing how people are defining work and what type of work they are doing, but right off the bat this suggests to me that we’re working pretty hard. Now, if you ask the folks at Harris Interactive, they’d likely point to the fact that compared to workers in the 90’s, we’re a bunch of slackers. According to finding from their most recent time use poll (below), work hours in 2007 are the lowest they’ve been since the 70’s. This only confirms what I’ve learned from movies like Animal House and Dazed and Confused – clearly the 70’s were the bomb! With 26 hours a week of keg parties, cool cars, easy women, and rock n’ roll, who had time for work?
Source: Harris Interactive, November 2007
Here’s another thought: Could it be that actual work increased from the 70’s to the late 90’s (as shown) and in fact continues to grow, but the hours needed to complete the same amount of work (and more) decreased in recent years due to the productivity benefits afforded by the Internet? I would suggest that “yes,” this is in fact what’s happening to some degree, although we can expect the benefits to plateau in the next decade. See, we’re not a lazy generation after all.
Ok, now back to surfing the net at the office and finishing my online Christmas shopping…
Business - Oct 5, 2010 12:00 - 0 Comments
More In Business
- Facebook, Facebook, Facebook
- Survey: How are you using Facebook, Twitter, smart phones, and other technology platforms?
- Will Facebook be your CRM provider?
- Wiki Banking
- The importance of being competent
Entertainment - Aug 3, 2010 13:14 - 2 Comments
More In Entertainment
- Lessons in collaboration from B.B. King’s
- CL!CK – LEGO’s fun social product development platform
- Peer Pressure 2.0: Farmville
- Online gaming more than just fun
- The NFL – The most protective league, attempting to control the uncontrollable
Society - Aug 6, 2010 8:19 - 4 Comments
More In Society
- Balance: customer receptivity vs. customer revulsion
- The Net Gen: Too plugged-in for parenting?
- Are you addicted to social media?
- The privacy discussion we need to have
- “The Data-Driven Life”: Who’s not interested in discovery?