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Why Generation Mobile Workers Feel Guilty

MobileIron Gen M Survey

MobileIron Gen M Survey

When asked how they feel about mixing their work and personal lives, 58% of Generation Mobile workers feel guilty, according to new research from MobileIron.

The MobileIron Gen M Survey, a global study of more than 3,500 full- and part-time professionals who use a mobile device for work, highlights an emerging demographic in the workplace: Generation Mobile or “Gen M.”

The study found that Gen M, which is composed of mobile workers who are either men age 18-34 or people with children under age 18 in their households, relies more heavily on mobile technologies than the general population to mix their work and personal activities.

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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. The survey findings were released Monday.

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

MobileIron Gen M Survey

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.

Gen M is suffering from mobile guilt

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

“Mobile is fundamentally changing how we work and live,” said Bob Tinker, CEO, MobileIron. “To recruit and retain the best and brightest employees, companies must establish policies that are aligned with the way employees want to work and live.”

MobileIron Gen M Survey

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%
  • Reading email 56%
  • Writing email 45%
  • Getting alerts, such as meeting reminders 44%
  • Accessing calendar 40%
  • Reading documents 37%
  • Surfing company intranet 30%

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.

From December 17, 2014 to January 22, 2015, Harris Poll conducted an online survey on behalf of MobileIron of 3,521 full- or part-time workers who use a mobile device for work purposes in France (502), Germany (501), Japan (503), Spain (500), UK (503), and US (1012).

Gen M (1,702) is defined as those who are male aged 18-34 or those with children in the household under 18. The sample was weighted to the populations in each country by age, race / ethnicity, education, region, and household income data.

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