Software security company Clearswift has unveiled its latest research report on the impact of social media and Web 2.0 on today’s workforce.
The research, which surveyed 1,600 employers and employees in Australia, the UK, US and Germany, shows the rapid rise of a new employee group, ‘Generation STaNDby: Socially & Technologically Never Disconnected’ – which never seems to fully switch off from work.
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60% of Australian office workers believe they are working harder this year than last year, with 45% believing they also need to work longer hours. Boundaries between work and home lives continue to blur, with 48% of Aussie office workers and 76% of managers, saying work tasks overlap into their home lives a minimum of twice per week but usually more. This is, in part, fuelled by 52% who use their home laptop for work, and 38% who use a smart phone as an ‘always-on’ link to office life.
However, the research also shows flexibility is a two-way stream, with many employers, 45%, agreeing that employees should be able access the internet and social networking content from their work computer for personal reasons. Reassuringly, more than half of managers trust their employees to use the internet and social networking sites responsibly.
The Clearswift research also shows that trust is key to Generation STaNDby employees; aside from salary, 70% of Australians workers rate ‘being trusted to manage their own time’ higher than other benefits, such as flexible working, dress down codes or training & development options. In fact, of all countries surveyed, Australia rated trust as the highest priority.
Richard Turner, Chief Executive at Clearswift said:
“Call it multi-tasking or life-splicing, but, fuelled by advances in technology, employees are increasingly blurring the boundaries between home and work. This report has shown that ‘Generation STaNDby’ employees now enjoy, and expect, greater levels of flexibility and mobility than ever before. This cultural shift also raises new questions about trust in the workplace, the use of new technologies, the balance of power in the employer vs. employee relationship and levels of control that businesses now have over people and content.”
Although companies recognise the benefits of Web 2.0 tools, security is the main concern regarding web collaboration for Australian companies (53%), followed by productivity (41%). Almost one in two Australian workers is happy to discuss work-related issues on social networking sites, and 29% has sent content via email or social networking sites that they wish they hadn’t, leaving the door open for leaks of potentially sensitive or damaging information.
Peter Croft, Managing Director at Clearswift Asia Pacific added:
“Many organisations view social networking as ‘social notworking’ but these results demonstrate that, locally at least, trust is critical to productive two-way employment relationships. However, we do strongly advocate all companies maintain an active, updated information management policy that is well-communicated to all employees, regardless of role.”
Business rewards of Generation Standby workforce
Businesses have come to recognise the benefits that a workforce comprised of ‘Generation STaNDby’ employees brings, with 49% of Australian managers thinking that cutting off social networks would be detrimental to the company. This demonstrates that a significant proportion of today’s businesses have moved on from the era of ‘stop & block’ in order to capitalise from the benefits of social media tools – increased cost efficiencies, better collaboration and dialogue with partners and customers.
Download the report, including Australian stats HERE