More than half of Australians play at work: Microsoft

But they're also checking work emails out of office hours

Australian workers still appreciate their playtime in an always-connected world, according to a study released today by Microsoft.

Microsoft commissioned market research company Ipsos MediaCT Australia to survey Australians in May 2014. Ipsos conducted a quantitative survey of a nationally representative sample of 1027 Australians aged 18 to 65.

The study found that 82 per cent of Australians use at least one form of smart device to stay connected, with 76 per cent using a smartphone and 45 per cent using a tablet. Also, with 31.09 million mobile services in operation, the number of connections exceed the population, it said.

More than a quarter of Australians use mobile devices to work from anywhere – a figure that has doubled in the last five years, the study said.

In addition, 30 per cent of Australians check work emails on devices at home before they leave for work, 23 per cent do work activities while socialising with friends, 44 per cent do work activities at home after the work day is over and 38 per cent work on the weekend.

However, the reverse is also true, the study found.

Microsoft and Ipsos said that 53 per cent of Australians play while at work – playing games, watching video, shopping online and browsing blogs and social media.

In addition, one in five 18-35 year olds impose a “no-contact time-out” each week to help them switch off from technology, the study found. The same number in that age group mediates, it said.

And rather than thinking of technology as a ball and chain, 73 per cent of Australians say it has made their life easier, the study found.

“One of the most interesting things about these findings is the amazing array of activities people are doing on their devices,” said Steven Miller, head of Microsoft Office division. “They work, play, talk, create, share, collaborate, research, watch, listen, they manage – the list goes on.”

“When you think about it, this is a significant departure from how we lived life in the very recent past, where people’s activities were predictably tied to specific times and places and where they used specific devices for specific tasks.”

While Microsoft has been pushing tablets that emphasise work and play features, a Telsyte study yesterday found that Windows devices accounted for only 7 per cent of Australian tablet sales in the first six months of this year. Android led with 47 per cent market share, followed closely by Apple with 46 per cent.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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