Tablet users say they multi-task better, are more productive

NOTE: This originally appeared in the Jan. 17 edition of the Daily Herald Business Ledger

It goes without saying that more people are using tablets at work. You probably didn’t need a professional study to tell you that.
But a recent survey conducted by Vernon Hills-based CDW highlights just how tablets are changing they way people work. CDW surveyed 610 professionals who use tablets in medium and large businesses, health care, higher education and state and local governments to gauge how they use them in the workplace. The survey found that tablet users at work:
• Spend 2.1 hours daily on their tablet for work purposes
• Gain 1.1 hours in daily productivity by using their tablet
• Spend 26 percent of their total computing time on their tablet
• Especially like email, calendar, and note taking on their tablets
• Say tablets make them better multi-taskers
The vast majority said tablets make work more enjoyable and helps them better collaborate with co-workers. Only 6 percent felt they were “pressed for time,” according to the survey.
Joe Woods, CDW’s director of mobility solutions, said the respondents believed tablets made them more efficient in their jobs. In addition to tablets’ portability, Woods said instant access to information and co-workers were also key benefits listed by the respondents.
“Eighty four percent said they thought tablets made them better multi-taskers,” Woods said. “A lot of that goes around collaboration and getting information on the go.
“If you can’t reach someone or can’t get information right away, that gets in the way of getting things done,” he added. “If you can use multiple devices and multiple vehicles in your tablet to accomplish these things, you can get a lot of work done.”
Respondents saying they gained more than an hour in daily productivity was a significant find, Woods added.
“It certainly talks to the value of the tablet as a workplace tool to get that kind of productivity,” he said.
The integration of tablets in the workplace is even more significant given the short time that tablets have been available (remember, Apple introduced the iPad to the world in 2010). The survey found 56 percent of users have had their tablets for a year or less, while 32 percent have owned them for two years and nine percent used a tablet for three years.
“The rate of adoption of how people have used tablets has really exploded,” he said. “It really demonstrates how deeply ingrained tablets are becoming at work.”
And it’s the employees — not business owners — that’s been leading that integration. Fifty nine percent of the respondents said they use their personal tablet, while 34 percent use company-owned devices. Seven percent used both personal and company-supplied devices.
What do they use it for? The “can’t live without” features, according the survey, are email and web browsing. Tops on the “it helps” features are office/productivity programs, such as word processing and spreadsheets, and file storage. Features that weren’t popular, surprisingly, were photo and video editing.
Even more surprising, social media applications ranked low — at number 6 — in the “can’t live without” list.
Multi-tasking is big among tablet users, as only two percent of those surveyed said it is the only device they use at work. The majority still use desktop and laptop computers in addition to tablets (68 percent and 62 percent respectively). Fifty-three percent said they use their smartphone in conjunction with tablets, while 22 percent they use their cellphone.
“What we’re seeing is that workers are not replacing their laptops or PCs, but are using multiple devices,” Woods said. He added that 74 percent said they use three devices, and 29 percent use four.
“I think about my own day. When I’m in my office, I’ll sit here and use my laptop,” Woods said. “When I go out to lunch, I’ll probably only bring my phone and my tablet. They’re just easier to interact with, so it depends on where you are and what you’re doing.”
One thing the survey did not reveal, he said, was any diversity in how tablets are being used between the different industries.
“By and large, people use their devices in the same way and in the same rate of penetration” in each industry surveyed, Woods added.