In 2014 It’s About Work-Life Blending, But Mind The ‘Hired Hackers’

The conflict between work and personal life has become an area of concern for many people in recent years. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so people have been careful to protect their holidays and their time off the clock, which has given rise to the concept of work-life balance.

But that’s old hat now. It seems that rather than drawing a clear line between the worlds of work life and personal life, employees are increasingly embracing work-life blending – doing personal tasks in work time and vice versa. This new way of working and living has benefits for both employee and employer, but sometimes involves the former doing things without the knowledge or consent of the latter, which potentially compromise corporate security. Businesses need to address this while supporting their employees’ positive work-life blending.

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Our recent People-Inspired Security study, involving 4,500 European office workers, uncovered these and other compelling findings which have important implications for businesses. These include: 

  • 75 per cent of those involved in the research reported they do personal tasks in work time, and 77 per cent do work in personal time
  • 38 per cent believe work-life blending enables them do more work in the same amount of time
  • 32 per cent say it helps them manage their personal lives better and the same proportion say it makes them less stressed
  • 36 per cent say that blending work and personal activities on one device makes them feel more productive

One of the facilitators of work-life blending is the increasing tendency for employees to use work-issued or personal mobile devices for work, meaning they can engage in work or personal pursuits at home or in the office. This is highlighted by the fact that the average European employee has 10 personal apps on their work-issued smartphone and 8 work apps on their personal phone. 

Rob Orr, Vice President of Enterprise Business, Samsung Electronics Europe, says: “Our study suggests that many employees are simplifying their busy lives as much as possible, using mobile devices and tech skills to complete work and personal tasks quickly and conveniently when, where and how they want. And instead of this creating a distraction or information overload, they have the ability to work-life blend to the advantage of themselves and their employers. The flipside of this positive behaviour, however, is the potential security risks raised by eager employees.”

The study also revealed the existence of employees dubbed ‘hired hackers’. These tech-savvy employees use their preferred personal tech to get the job done, even if this means circumventing work restrictions and embargoes. A whole quarter (26 per cent) of the workers in our study use their own technology to bypass company-imposed restrictions, such as using unauthorised file sharing platforms or accessing blocked websites and social media. 

Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, Consumer and Business Psychologist at University College London, says: “Samsung’s study suggests that just as people solve problems and improve their personal lives by ‘life-hacking’, many workers are using technology for the same ends. Millennials, who’ve grown up with mobile technology, are natural drivers of this trend, using their digital native intelligence to make IT work for them. If they haven’t already, European organisations need to design their work and security policies, and technology strategy, with this employee behaviour in mind.”

The Importance of People-Inspired Security

Understanding the work habits of employees is vital to building and maintaining robust but flexible security solutions for the enterprise community. Some results of the study show that ‘hired hackers’ and other workers can operate without concerns for security.

  • 29 per cent of those surveyed use personal mobile devices in the office for work without knowing, or caring, about work security policies
  • 55 per cent of respondents don’t know if their workplace has a mobile security policy, and if they do they don’t know the details or it or actively ignore it

Rob Orr says: “As work and life and mobile devices continue to blend, our research shows that the need for clear boundaries for work and personal data has never been greater. It's for this reason that a tool like Samsung KNOX™ is so important: among other things it allows employees to switch between personal apps and a password-protected workspace on the same device, as circumstances demand.”

Although the lack of concern around mobile security is an important issue, there are some results from the survey that are more positive.

  • 70 per cent say they are more security conscious than they were a year ago
  • 95 per cent have taken steps to improve security on their mobile devices
  • 30 per cent have changed their work passwords
  • 39 per cent have changed their personal passwords

This represents momentum that European businesses can capitalise on to support the evolution of their employees’ digital skills, work-life blending and IT security in and outside of work. In other words, how your business adapts to the changing behaviours of employees is essential to ensure not only that your data is safe, but that your employees are also satisfied and productive.

Samsung KNOX offers the kind of power and flexibility that can help the enterprise community facilitate the trend towards work-life blending while also knowing that their company data is secure. 

To view the full report please click here

Posted on June 25, 2014 .