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The Constantly-Connected Employee Survey: Does the Workday Ever Really End?

With all the talk of the importance of “work-life” balance these days, employees are still finding it hard to truly escape the pressures of work and be completely “off the clock.” In this always-connected society, the concept of a 9-to-5 workday is quickly becoming a thing of the past. As the expectations for accessibility continue to grow, it becomes harder to tell when work ends and personal life begins.

ThinkingPhones recently explored this concept of the “always on” workplace, polling over 1,000 U.S.-based employees to understand their thoughts and attitudes toward the idea of always being connected to work through mobile devices. Naturally there is a lot of good that can come of technology, in this case, as it supports mobility. For example, the freedom to work where you want, stay connected and be productive. The flip side, as some of the survey results illustrate, is just how available employees feel they are expected to be because of the very technology that has enabled them to be connected.

Check out the full infographic here. Among the main findings:

  • From the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed, employees feel the need to stay connected:
    • 26 percent of employees handle work-related correspondence on their mobile device within an hour of going to bed
    • 48 percent of employees handle work-related correspondence (text, phone and/or email) before they leave to go to work in the morning
    • 27 percent of employees check their phones for work-related emails/calls/texts within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning
  • Employees feel pressured to always be accessible, no matter where they are:
    • 82 percent of employees have responded to work-related emails while on vacation
    • 53 percent of employees have responded to work-related emails while in a bathroom
    • 18 percent of employees have responded to work-related emails while on a date
    • 18 percent of employees have replied to a work-related email while driving
    • 9 percent of employees have responded to work-related emails while in a church
  • 87 percent of employees think it’s okay to call or text co-workers/clients regarding work-related matters outside of standard business hours
  • 60 percent of employees respond to work-related emails outside of their standard work hours
  • 25 percent of employees spend at least 30 minutes per day outside of work on their mobile device handling work-related correspondence during the week
  • 39 percent of employees say they have a difficult time not responding to work-related emails/calls/texts while on vacation
  • 29 percent of employees expect a response within five hours when they email a co-worker about a work- related matter over the weekend
  • While deeply connected to their mobile devices, there are nuances to how they communicate:
    • 83 percent of employees feel comfortable texting their boss
    • 68 percent of employees noted there are certain co-workers they’ll call on their mobile phone, and not others (due to the level of familiarity)
In today’s digital world, with so many instant communication devices at our fingertips, the fact that the majority of employees feel that it’s okay to text or call coworkers regarding work-related matters outside of work isn’t that surprising. However, other stats from the poll reflect a more intense connection to work. From the moment they wake up to the time they go to bed, employees feel they are expected to not just be available, but also be responsive to work-related correspondence. And while this accelerated level of “connectedness” is becoming more standard for younger generations entering the workforce, nearly two-thirds of employees say they don’t like always being connected and available.

It’s clear from this survey that employees today feel an enormous amount of pressure to always be available; and they’re not necessarily happy about it. And as the more digitally inclined generation of young people who have never lived in a “disconnected” world enter the workforce, the notion of constant accessibility will continue to become the norm. As this shift continues, the implications of a never-ending workday can change the ways companies do business and have the potential to radically change what it means to be an employee in the Digital Age.

As enterprises of all sizes bear witness to the “always-connected work persona,” they face the challenge of managing it in ways that complement their professional culture and enable employees to communicate with ease, all while preserving privacy and personal time.

So, what’s a business to do? Keep moving forward. Embrace the change and make the most of your connected workforce. Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Set the Tone from the Top Down – C-level executives set the culture, tone and expectations for work connectivity and responsiveness
  • Develop a “Connectivity” Policy – Put your culture into practice by creating a policy that sets expectations by reinforcing brand values
  • Implement the Policy – Self-police and be stewards of the policy you create; lead by example and reinforce behaviors that respect the policy
  • Respect Differences – Talk to your co-workers and understand their communication preferences, work habits and boundaries

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