Report: Online at Work Productive, but Stressful

Brandon Dimmel's picture

Today, most business offices depend on a range of technologies, from desktop and laptop computers to smartphones and even tablets -- most of which are connected to the Internet. Now, a new study suggests that although today's workplace technology helps to increase productivity, it also lengthens the amount of time spent at work.

The study, which was carried out by the Pew Research Center, involved surveying 1,000 adults between September 12 and September 18, 2014. The researchers focused most of their attention on just over five hundred participants who said they worked full- or part-time, and depend on Internet-based technologies for their work.

Digital Tools Make Work More Productive

The research team's final report showed that roughly half of the participants said they felt online tools made them more productive. Meanwhile, about four in ten people said that smartphones, email, and Internet access made their jobs easier.

Additionally, the survey showed that using email was "very important" to most participants, though only 4 per cent said social media websites -- like Facebook and Twitter -- were "very important" for their job. (Source:

Line Between Work, Home Life Blurring

However, more than one in three participants said they also felt as though using digital tools resulted in longer work days. Lee Rainie, the Pew Research Center's director of Internet, science, and technology, says this has a lot to do with the blurring of employment boundaries. "The once rigid boundary between 'work' and 'home' has changed to something that is highly permeable," Rainie said.

The Pew study also found that more workers are taking their work home with them. However, the researchers found that workers are now spending more time doing non-work related activities -- such as shopping online or browsing recreational websites -- while at their place of employment.

Connected Technology Means Always On Call

One of the study's more significant findings is that workers reported feeling "on call" more than ever before. In essence, because of the widespread use of email and smartphones, employers are often contacting their employees when workers are at home or even on vacation.

This is not the first study to suggest that Americans are spending a lot of time at work. A recent Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development report showed that, on average, U.S. employees are working almost 1,800 hours each year -- higher than the world average, which was 1,765 hours. The same report revealed that 11 per cent of U.S. workers spend long hours in an office environment, compared to the world average of 9 per cent. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Do you feel that the wider availability of PCs, tablets, and smartphones has made workers more productive? Do you feel these technologies make people work longer hours? Do you think the use of these technologies in the workplace is increasing stress levels for employees?

Rate this article: 
Average: 4.8 (4 votes)


matt_2058's picture

Reports from the mid-to-late 1990s said the same thing: work life and home life lacked a clear line. The studies then reported people bringing work pagers and laptops home and on vacation. Also employees bringing home stress to work and taking more personal time off to deal with home issues. The only thing that has changed is the 'social media' aspect. And that there are much more places on the internet to visit when goofing off at work. In our office of 100 or so, I'd bet that if someone has to work late more than once a month, they are playing on the internet or handling personal stuff throughout the workday.

I always found it interesting that the company had a 'no personal use' policy, but did not enforce it with website or traffic-limiting measures.