New generation of mobile users do quarter of work on digital devices

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Gen-M-230x190The provision of alternative places to work than the office desk is of particular relevance to a new demographic of worker, dubbed Gen M (because we need yet another one – Ed.), which is described in a new report from US based telecomms consultants MobileIron as either men aged 18-34 or people with children under-18 who rely heavily on mobile technology. On average, Gen M does more than a quarter (26%) of its work on smartphones or tablets, compared to non-Gen M professionals, who do 17 percent. Gen M also uses mobile for “shadow tasking,” doing personal tasks during work hours and work tasks during personal hours, the research from MobileIron reveals. Gen M mobile users are also keen to invest in the latest technology –  42 percent either own or plan to purchase a wearable device, such as the Apple Watch, and of those, 95 percent plan to use those devices for work tasks.

The ability to mix work and personal activities throughout the day is highly important for Gen M and could present a recruiting and retention problem for companies who do not support this emerging work style: 60 percent of Gen M professionals would leave their job if their employer did not allow any remote work or restricted their ability to do personal tasks at work, compared to 50 percent of non-Gen M workers.

However, Gen M’s hyper-connectedness comes at a cost: mobile guilt. When asked how they typically react when mixing work and personal communication:

  • 61 percent of Gen M suffers from mobile guilt when receiving work communications during personal hours, compared to 47 percent of non-Gen M workers.
  • 58 percent suffers from mobile guilt when receiving personal communications during work hours, compared to 46 percent of non-Gen M workers.

Other key findings of the report include:

Gen M uses mobile to mix their work and personal lives

On average, Gen M does more than a quarter (26%) of its work on smartphones or tablets, compared to non-Gen M professionals, who do 17%. Gen M also uses mobile for “shadow tasking,” doing personal tasks during work hours and work tasks during personal hours:

  • 82 percent of Gen M does at least one personal task on mobile per day during work hours, compared to 72% of non-Gen M professionals.
  • 64 percent of Gen M does at least one work task on mobile per day during personal hours, compared to 54% of non-Gen M professionals.

Lack of employer support could be a recruiting and retention problem

Furthermore, the ability to mix work and personal activities throughout the day is highly important for Gen M and could present a recruiting and retention problem for companies who do not support this emerging work style: 60% of Gen M professionals would leave their job if their employer did not allow any remote work or restricted their ability to do personal tasks at work, compared to 50% of non-Gen M workers.

Shadow tasking is a global phenomenon

Gen M employees shadow task extensively across all six countries in the survey:

  • French professionals are the most likely to do mobile work while driving.
  • German professionals are the most likely to feel guilty when receiving personal communications at work.
  • Japanese professionals are the least likely to do mobile work while watching TV.
  • Spanish professionals are the most likely to do mobile work while using public transportation.
  • U.K. professionals are the most likely to use mobile to monitor their home during the workday.
  • U.S. professionals are the most likely to do mobile work while using the bathroom.

Wearables are coming to the workplace

“Smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch, are expected to be very popular,” said Tinker. “These wearables will increase our connectedness and, possibly, our guilt about mixing our work and personal lives.”

Forty-two percent of Gen M either own or plan to purchase a wearable device, such as the Apple Watch. Of those, 95% plan to use those devices for work tasks, including:

  • Taking phone calls 58 percent
  • Reading email 56 percent
  • Writing email 45 percent
  • Getting alerts, such as meeting reminders 44 percent
  • Accessing calendar 40 percent
  • Reading documents 37 percent
  • Surfing company intranet 30 percent

Organizations need new policies to support Gen M

Companies are in a war for talent, battling to attract the best and brightest employees. Those with progressive programs that support the Gen M work style without creating feelings of guilt will be more successful at recruiting and retaining employees.

The following five principles provide a starting point for the development of new corporate policies focused on work productivity and employee fairness:

  • Accept shifting work styles. Understand in detail the actions employees are taking to be productive so that you can improve their experiences.
  • Establish clear goals. Agree on what needs to get done so employees can hit mutually agreed targets, regardless of when or where the work happens.
  • Set top-down boundaries. Lead from the top by setting reasonable boundaries. If the CEO is sending emails at 2AM, employees will be bound to work at all hours and their personal lives will suffer.
  • Offer reimbursement stipends. Encourage employees to use the tools they need to get the job done and provide appropriate reimbursement for personal technology (BYOD).
  • Secure data selectively. Protect business data without compromising the privacy of personal data no matter who owns the smartphone or tablet.

Conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of MobileIron between December 2014 and January 2015, the MobileIron Gen M Survey studied professionals across France, Germany, Japan, Spain, UK, and US. For more information about the MobileIron Gen M Survey, please visit www.mobileiron.com/GenM.