The Impact of the Mobile Phone on Work/Life Balance
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The AMTA/ARC study is an exciting collaboration to provide an evidence-based understanding of the social impact of the mobile phone on work/life balance. It is the first study that is specifically designed to provide nationally representative data on how mobile phones have become integrated into the everyday lives of Australians. This innovative project employs a purpose-designed questionnaire, a phone log and a time-diary. Together, this unique combination produces direct information about how people use their mobiles to manage and coordinate their lives. This preliminary report presents data collected March to May 2007 from our sample of 1358 individuals from 845 on-line households. When the data from the off-line household sample are added in the coming months, the total sample will be more than 1,000 households.
• The lowest mobile phone use is found among those aged 60 years or more, but the mobile phone is so universally diffused that use is unaffected by income levels and occupation.
• The majority of users are subscribers and prepaid use is concentrated among those under 25 years. Around a quarter of managers and associate professionals have their bills paid by their employer, whereas in other occupations around 10% or less benefit from employer support.
• Cost is by far the major reason given for choice of handset, while there is no single factor which explains the choice of service provider. • ‘Convenience’ of the mobile phone is the reason most frequently given for choosing to talk on a mobile rather than a landline. ‘Cost’ is a major reason for preferring to talk using a landline rather than a mobile.
• There is a very high awareness of 3G (86% of males and 75% of females). But 61% of respondents indicate that they do not access internet services via their mobile phone. The lag in take-up is a topic for further research. • Logs of actual calls made and SMS texts sent show that the predominant use of the mobile is for contacting family and friends, with work-related reasons far less important. Men make more calls for business purposes, while women use the mobile for social connectivity.
• Typically mobile phone users call relatively infrequently, with 28% making calls less than once a day.
• Calls cluster by time of day, according to purpose. Most work-related calls are made in standard working hours. The rate of calls to family and friends are low in working hours but high at the end of school hours and in the evening. • Perceived reasons for using a mobile are talk and messages. Other uses, including data transmission, are at this point minor.
• Asynchronous communication practices, such as turning off your mobile to avoid being disturbed, are common techniques. Ninety per cent of the respondents ‘normally’ switch off their phone in the cinema, two- thirds switch off their phone at work meetings, and almost half turn off their phones in restaurants. Women are more reluctant than men to take their mobile phone on holiday ‘to talk to work colleagues’.
• A third of workers say that it would be difficult to do their job properly without their mobile. This is particularly the case for men.
• Half of employed respondents think that mobiles increase their workload, for 42% the effect is neutral, and a few (9%) think mobiles reduce their workload. This is offset by productivity gains. Over half (55%) of employed respondents indicate that job-related mobile calls increase their productivity. • Over two-thirds of the respondents report that the mobile phone is an important medium for maintaining kinship ties, especially for women. The mobile is a device well suited to maintaining intimate relationships at a geographical distance.
• Conveying information about ‘timing of the arrival at home’ and ‘arranging to meet with other family members’ are the major uses of the mobile phone for micro-coordination. Among...
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