Canadians at work: technology enables more flexibility, but longer hours too; checking in is the new normal

by David Korzinski | February 9, 2015 12:01 am

Canadians view mobile technology, despite increase in working hours, as a positive thing

February 9, 2015 – Working Canadians say the use of mobile technology as a tool of the trade has them working more, checking in more often, but on balance, they’re fine with the added flexibility.

Asked how important the internet, email and cell phones are for doing their job, two-in-three (65%) working respondents described one or more of these tools as “vital”. Those are among the results of an Angus Reid Institute survey of more than 1500 Canadian adults.

Key Findings

Who’s using what – and how often?

Half of working Canadians surveyed (51%) described email and the internet as “vital” to their job, while one-quarter (24%) said both were “very important”. Mobile phones are somewhat less critical, but almost half (45%) said it is vital or very important they have one on the job. As might be expected, the indispensability of technology on the job depends on the industry in which Canadians work:

Angus Reid Institute

There is a significant difference in the role of technology at work across educational and income strata. Those with a university degree are almost twice as likely as their counterparts who did not go beyond high school to describe one or more of these mobile communication tools as “vital” to their job (83% and 45% respectively).

The pattern is consistent but somewhat more muted across household income strata (declining from 74% in the higher income group to 54% of those in lower income households). The survey results show very little differences in Canadians’ reliance on technology at work across age groupings.

Mobile technology: an overall positive at work

Canadians see mobile technology at work as a good thing, with seven-in-ten (71%) of all surveyed Canadians saying, “Mobile technology is an overall positive for working people because it allows for more flexibility with hours and remote work.” That’s more than twice as many as those who said, “Mobile technology is an overall negative because now people are expected to work and respond to emails in their personal time,” (29% of respondents).

Differences in outlook occur depending on how much working Canadians rely on mobile technology. Those who are more “technology intense – that is, they consider all mobile technology tools to be vital to their jobs – are the strongest believers that mobile technology has been an overall positive for working people (86%).

Those who are “technology reliant” – saying at least one of the tools is vital, along with those who are “technology users” share this view, but less enthusiastically. Of note, the small group who don’t use technology at work are evenly split on this question of the overall impact of technology on working Canadians.

Angus Reid Institute

Flexibility is the reward, but many see longer hours too

Asked whether mobile technology has allowed respondents more flexibility in the hours they work, half (49%) say it has indeed done so, while the other half said this has not been their experience.

Checking in is the new normal

Other findings from the survey strongly underline the fact that longer hours, or at least after-hours, work is a widespread phenomenon for working Canadians. Those using technology at work were asked how often, if ever, they did the following activities outside of regular hours. The results are visible in the chart below:

Angus Reid Institute

Of course, each of these after-hours work activities is most prevalent among the “usual suspects” we’ve been looking at: those most reliant on technology at work and, correspondingly, those in occupations with high representation of these groups of workers.

And what about age? The results do show the youngest cohort (those 18-24) more likely to report some after hours work activities than those who are older, but the differences are not very strong or very consistent.

Click here for full report including tables and methodology[1]

Click here for Questionnaire used in this survey[2]

Image Credit: Roberto Trm

  1. Click here for full report including tables and methodology:
  2. Click here for Questionnaire used in this survey:

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