Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
Last week in this space, we discussed the gradual transition away from traditional desktop computers, with laptop computers providing a bridge to a future where, well, we aren't sure what happens next. Tablets and smartphones have already become reliable tools of the IT workplace, but there may not be as much of a rush to put all work in the palm of your hand as once seemed likely.
Dictation and voice recognition, or perhaps some other as-yet-unguessed technology, may someday replace the need to have keyboards and mouses (mice?) or trackpads as primary input devices. Lots of people already talk to their phones instead of swipe-texting or using good, old-fashioned two-thumb hunt-and-pecking.
Even so, however, it's hard to imagine a rapid or complete transition away from the familiarity of typing and clicking. And while phones and tablets have gradually gotten both more powerful and more cross-functional with traditional desktop and laptop computers, the popularity of multi-monitor displays suggests people aren't entirely ready to have work be concentrated in such a small viewing area.
We didn't let any of that stop us, however, from asking about the popularity of smartphones and tablets as tools in the workplace. We asked Salary Survey respondents to give us an estimate of the amount of time per day that they use tablets and phones to perform work-related tasks. Here's what we learned:
Q: How many hours per day do you use a smartphone or tablet to do your current job?
I never use a smartphone or tablet. — 20.5 percent
An hour or so per day — 32.3 percent
A couple of hours per day — 24 percent
3 to 4 hours per day — 10.7 percent
5 to 6 hours per day — 3.1 percent
7 to 8 hours per day — 2.9 percent
More than 8 hours per day — 3 percent
Everything I do requires a smartphone or tablet. — 3.6 percent
First off, it's interesting to note that there are apparently certified IT professionals out there who can already cram their entire job into a phone or tablet. The potential at least exists, it would seem, for phones and tablets to become the go-to setup of choice for IT work. A notable 20.5 percent of those surveyed, on the other hand, don't use phones or tablets at all.
The biggest patch of real estate in between those extremes is occupied by 56 percent of survey respondents who use their phones or tablets either for roughly an hour per day (32.2 percent) or for a couple of hours (24 percent). These people have the tools, but aren't using them to do much more than maybe check work e-mails.
Another nearly 11 percent of those surveyed are getting between three and four hours of effective (or maybe not-so-effective) work done on their handheld devices. Other than the do-everything die-hards, however, fewer than 10 percent of survey respondents are using their phones and tablets more than half of the hours in the day.
Handheld computing may indeed be the future of IT work — but that future is not here yet.