A new study finds users are doing a lot of work on mobile devices while they’re out of the office. That could have negative consequences for workers’ health and their company’s bottom line.
More workers are using smartphones and tablets for professional tasks — and they’re spending more time working on those devices after hours and on the weekends, accoridng to a recent survey from commercial Wi-Fi network provider iPass.
Among the 1,600 mobile workers surveyed worldwide, 63% spend at least six hours working online over the weekend, and 29% spend 20 hours or more working.
That can have negative consequences for workers’ health, iPass warns, as stress could build up and the extra work may be replacing physical activity. And in fact, 14% of survey respondents blame work-related distractions for their abandoned exercise routines.
While department managers and company leadership will decide when employees are and aren’t expected to work, there are some things IT should be doing to reduce the stress associated with mobile devices.
For one thing, it’s important to make sure the help desk can support the mobile devices users are bringing to work, as technical issues with a smartphone, tablet or laptop are by far the most frequent workplace disruption, with 65% of users citing those problems as a significant distraction.
If the company decides to issue or support a device, the IT department should have people on staff who know how to use and troubleshoot it. Also, IT can use people’s enthusiasm about their personal devices to its advantage and set up self-service support tools that let users collaborate on support documents and answer each other’s questions.
Watch BYOD costs, too
For companies that pay for some or all of users’ cellular bills, the survey results also have some bad news for the organization’s bottom line: Users don’t care about cost when using their mobile devices.
When choosing when and how to go online, users ranked cost as the least important factor, behind availability, speed, bandwidth and security.
Oddly enough, just 52% of users polled chose Wi-Fi as their network connection of choice — 38% favored 4G cellular data and 10% chose 3G, despite the fact that those are slower than a typical Wi-Fi connection and eat into the allotments for paid data plans.
If the company’s footing the bill, it could pay off to train smartphone and tablet users about how to avoid unnecessary charges when going mobile — and to have a policy requiring users to avoid those costs when possible.