Pew: Landlines and Email More Important Than Social For Workers

According to a new panel survey released by the Pew Research Center today, email, a landline, and a decent Internet connection are still the most important tools for workers. Social networks and a smartphone aren't entirely necessary. The study, conducted over a week in September 2014, concludes that six in ten (61%) American workers who use the internet say email is “very important” for doing their job.

officeworkersAccording to a new panel survey released by the Pew Research Center, email, a landline, and a decent Internet connection are still the most important tools for workers. Social networks and a smartphone aren’t entirely necessary.

The study, conducted over a week in September 2014, concludes that:

Six in ten (61%) American workers who use the internet say email is “very important” for doing their job, and 54% say the same about the internet. Far fewer workers describe landline phones (35%) or cell phones and smartphones (24%) as “very important.” Just 4% say social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn are “very important” to their work…

Perhaps even more surprising is that, despite the proliferation of mobile phones in the U.S., cell and smartphones rate lower than landline phones in terms of their importance to U.S. workers doing their job. One in three workers (35%) say landline phones are “very important” to their work, compared with 24% who say the same about mobile phones.

Participants also said that while email is of great importance, the Internet overall isn’t as distracting as much as it gives them more flexibility and access to do their work:

Just 7% of working online adults feel their productivity has dropped because of the internet, email and cell phones, while 46% feel more productive. Asked about a variety of impacts, notable proportions of these workers say that the internet, email and cell phones:

  •  Expand the number of people outside of their company they communicate with—51% of these internet-using workers say this.
  • Allow them more flexibility in the hours they work—39% of online workers say this.
  • Increase the amount of hours they work—35% of online workers say this.

Each of these effects is felt more among Office-Based workers than among traditionally blue collar, Non-Office-Based employees.

While email and Internet connections seem to be helping employees do more, employers are increasingly putting restrictions on how employees connect and what they can do with all that connectivity. It looks like since 2006 and 200, Pew conducted a similar study, more employers have implemented policies about what employees can say and post on social media, too. It looks like both employers and employees are getting smarter about using digital tools for work. You can see some of the slides from the report below and check out the full report.