Smartphones blur the line between work and private life

  • March 14, 2017
1024 413 eNet

As the widespread availability of smartphones promotes a continuous online presence, the boundary between work and private life is increasingly blurred. It is possible to attend to our private chores and keep in touch with family and friends even during working hours – and likewise, with the help of smartphones, work-related duties can be performed at any time. Most smartphone users with jobs consider this an advantage in Hungary: 78% prefer to work occasionally in their free time on their phones, as long as they can also use their devices for private purposes at work. The latest “Report on the Internet Economy” by eNET – Telekom focuses on the impact of smartphones on work-life balance in Hungary.

Work? Not without my phone!

Online research conducted by eNET in January 2017 indicates that 86% of working adult Hungarian Internet users use a smartphone. Of them, 64% insist on being able to use their phones for private purposes in their work time. Seven out of ten respondents make regular (at least weekly) phone calls, and more than 50% write or read text messages, chat online, or send e-mails during work. Apart from communication, browsing not related to work (54%), visiting social media sites (52%) and using a smartphone to read the news (51%) are also popular, with most respondents finding time for these activities even in their working hours.

Naturally, it’s not only private life that infiltrates workplaces. The opposite is also true: work is increasingly present in private life, communication being the main component of this presence. Half of the respondents admit to using their smartphones at least once a week for keeping in touch with colleagues, partners and customers outside working hours. Mobile phones have also proved helpful in time scheduling (40%), collecting work-related information online (37%), and opening / reading work-related files (35%).

Work on a smartphone – smartphones in work: pros and cons go hand in hand

One third of smartphone users who work feel that the line between their professional and private life has become more blurred since they started using a smartphone. According to them the main benefits to this are being able to read incoming e-mails immediately (71%), and being readily available online to colleagues for important matters (66%). At the same time, the chance to attend to private matters during downtime makes for more effective time-management and vice versa (44%). Being constantly up-to-date about work tasks (36%) is also considered a benefit.

As to the disadvantages, five out of ten respondents find that being constantly available on their smartphones encourages their colleagues to contact them with problems even when they are not at work; and 40% say the need to always be available online on their smartphones makes it difficult to fully unwind even when at home.

Still, smartphone users with jobs insist on keeping their devices with them: 78% prefer having to work occasionally in their free time on their phones, as long as they can also use their devices for private purposes at work.

Smartphones for work-life balance

Several applications are available that are intended to help users strike a balance between work and private life, but only 11% of smartphone users who work have ever heard about them. Perhaps one of the reasons is that such apps are generally only available in English – in any case, they are rarely used. Which is a pity, because they deploy a great variety of functions: some applications help the user focus and exclude disturbances (e.g. 30/30, OFFTIME), others monitor the time spent on certain tasks or apps (e.g. BreakFree, Quality Time), and still others help organise family members’ duties (e.g. Cozi Family Organizer). In fact, there are apps that support relaxation and stress relief, or even teach the user how to meditate (e.g. Headspace, Pacifica). Although methods and quality vary, these applications are a great way of harnessing smartphone features to restore the balance between professional and private life.

Smartphones make everything easier?

Work and private life have become intertwined when it comes to smartphones. Almost everybody attends to their private matters while at work, and an increasing number of people find it inevitable to check their work e-mails in their free time. The impact of smartphones on work-life balance is indisputable. But the latest developments offer several opportunities as well, such as better time scheduling and keeping up-to-date on both household and workplace duties. The majority of smartphone users with a job would not give up their devices; they are willing to work on their phones in their free time as long as they can also take care of private matters during working hours.

eNET – Telekom

About the survey: eNET interviewed 1,047 Internet users over 18 years of age in January 2017. The survey was conducted in the online research community Veva.hu. The results are representative of the views of Hungarian internet users aged 18+ in terms of sex, age and region.