Survey: Not All Workers Consider BlackBerry a Ball and Chain

A new survey finds that even though workers know their wireless technologies are eroding the boundaries between work and play, they still sing the praises and benefits of being "always on."

More Americans than ever are staying connected to the office while away this holiday season, but not all are complaining about it, according to a survey released Dec. 12 that was commissioned by Lexmark, a provider of printing and imaging products in Lexington, Ky.

Surveyed "knowledge workers"—defined as individuals who use a computer at work for word processing, database, spreadsheet, Internet or e-mail applications—say that they are more stressed at work than they were a few years ago, but they blame longer hours and not wireless technology. Though 61 percent of workers are committed to a 40-hour workweek, the majority said they work at least five hours more each week, with 10 percent reporting working an additional 20 hours weekly.

Even though workers acknowledge that their wireless devices are eroding the boundary between the office and their outside-work lives, the survey found them focusing more on the benefits than drawbacks. Eighty-three percent said they felt the technology allowed them to be more productive; 80 percent said it allowed greater work flexibility; 70 percent felt it allowed them more success in their careers; and 64 percent argued it made their work more rewarding.

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Furthermore, in citing flexibility—working hours that suit them, their bosses or clients —nearly half (49 percent) said they had more of it than five years earlier, and those with more flexibility felt they were less stressed than their less-flexible counterparts, at 15 versus 30 percent respectively.

Still, the survey made the lines between work and play seem more blurred than ever. Nearly half (44 percent) of U.S. workers say they intended to stay connected to the office over the holidays or while on vacation (45 percent) this holiday season.

The vast majority of workers understood that they were inviting work communications into their personal time. Ninety-two percent of workers said that they send, make or take work-related communications in non-work situations. Seventy-three percent said that they keep their wireless work communication devices on over the weekend.

More than half said they had brought work into situations where others would likely wish it were left at the door. Fifty-five percent owned up to communicating about work while spending time with their friends and family, and one-fifth (20 percent) have interrupted a date for work purposes.

The boundaries between work and leisure time were the most unclear among BlackBerry and other PDA users. Compared with 45 percent overall, 73 percent of PDA users said that always being contactable means that they are likely to talk or e-mail with clients and colleagues in non-work settings.

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