Monday 26 September 2016

IT staff feel the pressure to have a 24/7 working week

Our technology editor on how the humble smartphone is tying workers to their desks - even when they're out of the office

Published 29/10/2015 | 02:30

The smartphone is tying workers to their desks
The smartphone is tying workers to their desks

Irish IT staff feel compelled to be on duty around the clock, a new survey shows. Around 94pc of Irish IT workers say that they leave their work phone on "at all times", with almost half saying that it's because they "need to be available" for work issues should they arise.

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The survey, conducted by TechBeat and Three in Ireland, also reveals that only one in ten here restrict their work phone availability to office hours. The survey shows how lines between work and time off are being blurred in the modern workplace.

Three-quarters of those questioned said that they use the same phone for work and leisure. Half said that mobile working now impacts their private time.

Asked about why smartphones are allocated to staff, 81pc of companies surveyed said that it was to "increase employee productivity", while 64pc said it was to "engage customers wherever they are". The measure has worked, according to the survey, with 85pc of respondents saying that mobile resources have increased their productivity.

Meanwhile, over half of Irish companies are set to increase their IT budgets next year with a third keeping them stable. Just 7pc of Irish organisations will cut IT budgets in 2016, according to the survey.

The iPhone is the most common handset offered to staff in Irish companies with 73pc of organisations here making Apple's flagship device available as a work phone.

Samsung is next with 47pc of firms offering one of the Korean company's devices as a work phone. Windows phones from Microsoft and Nokia are offered by one in five Irish companies, while 9pc still include BlackBerry devices in their corporate handset lineup. HTC is available to just 5pc of company staff with rivals such as Sony or Huawei barely registering on corporate lists.

Due to the increased power and flexibility of phones, half of Irish IT professionals say their use of PCs has decreased in recent years.

However, phones are still ultimately regarded as accessories in Irish working life, with nine out of 10 Irish IT professionals saying that laptops or desktops remain their primary work tools. Just one in 25 IT workers count a phone as the main work device with the same number describing a tablet as the primary tool.

Content restriction on work phones is rare in Ireland, with just one in eight saying that there are limits on the kind of content available on their office-provided handset.

"Some employees can often feel that, as this is the device they use for personal use, there should be no restriction to content," said Nicola Mortimer, head of business product at Three.

"However, the risk cannot be underestimated. A solution that many of our customers are implementing is having a separate business and personal profile on their handset which allows more stringent restrictions to be applied to the business profile without affecting the personal use."

The survey claims that 57pc of Irish firms don't use any kind of mobile device management system.

Of those that do, 13pc use AirWatch, while 10pc use Citrix. 8pc use MobileIron.

However, one in five IT professionals believe that their company is unequipped to deal with mobile security or support issues.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of Irish IT professionals now use some form of instant messaging as part of their work software. The most used platform is Microsoft, with 34pc using either Skype or Skype for Business and a further 24pc describing their instant messaging platform as Lync (which has now become Skype for Business).

Cisco's Jabber is used by 5pc of IT workers here, while Facebook Messenger is used by 3pc for work purposes.

The survey was conducted by Techbeat and Three in September among 136 IT professionals.

Survey results...

MY MAIN WORK TOOL IS...

Laptop 49%

Desktop 42%

Smartphone 4%

Tablet 4%

ONE OR TWO PHONES?

Same phone for work/leisure 76%

Separate phones for work/leisure 24%

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Work phone on at all times 94%

"I need to be available" 45%

"I monitor messages for work issues" 38%

"I only answer work calls during office hours" 11%

"I switch it off outside work hours" 6%

SECURITY / MOBILE SUPPORT

Work can handle this 66%

Work can't handle this 21%

Don't know 13%

"MOBILE WORKING IMPACTS MY PRIVATE TIME"

Yes 49%

No 48%

CONTENT RESTRICTIONS ON WORK PHONES

Yes 12%

No 72%

Don't know 16%

DUE TO MY PHONE, MY PC USE HAS...

Increased 7%

Decreased 48%

Hasn't changed 45%

INSTANT MESSAGING IN BUSINESS

Use 66%

Don't use 34%

CHOICE OF PLATFORM

Microsoft's Lync 24%

Skype for Business 17%

Regular Skype 17%

Jabber 5%

Microsoft's OCS 4%

Facebook Messenger 3%

Don't use 34%

IT BUDGET PLANS FOR 2016

Increase 57%

Decrease 7%

Unchanged 36%

MOBILE DEVICE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM?

None 57%

Citrix 10%

Mobile Iron 8%

Airwatch 13%

Microsoft Intune 3%

Other 10%

WHY COMPANIES GIVE WORK MOBILES

Increase employee productivity 81%

Reduce operating costs 43%

Engage customers wherever they are 64%

Create revenue 13%

Disrupt the market 2%

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