Blackberry users lured into Faustian pact

Currently 14 million subscribers worldwide

Blackberries were introduced to Australia in 2002, and current estimates claim there are about 14 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide.

Last year a federal government department actually stalled the distribution of a new fleet of BlackBerries fearing the devices would have a negative impact on the work/life balance of staff.

The Blackberries were purchased for the Minister for Environment, Water, Heritage and Arts, Peter Garrett, as well as 40 other executives including senior departmental staff.

However, access to the new devices was delayed after concerns were expressed about the BlackBerries infringing on the work/life balance of staff.

Staff expressed fears about BlackBerries contributing to a longer working day and felt it was going a step too far because mobile phones are adequate for out-of-office contact.

Not everyone agreed, however, with some senior executives claiming a BlackBerry can contribute to work/life balance by facilitating telecommuting and more flexible schedules.

A survey undertaken by the Solutions Research Group found that one-third of respondents believe a mobile device can increase workloads.

The survey was undertaken by users of BlackBerrys, Palm Treos and other PDAs and smart phones.

The findings support research from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) which shows that since 1980 working hours in Australia have continued to increase. Currently, Australia has the second longest working hours in the OECD.

As part of its work/life balance policy, the Australian Computer Society (ACS) wants the federal government to push teleworking and a more flexible working day built around the core hours of 10am to 3pm.

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