Work-life blending gives rise to hired hackers

on July 10, 2014
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“New European workforce study reveals death of 9 to 5 can be risky business”


Yes, it sounds pretty harsh, but this is what people are saying. Work-life blend is overtaking work-life balance amongst European office workers, according to a new study involving 4,500 workers launched today by Samsung Electronics.


The People-Inspired Security report reveals new skills that are enabling people to intertwine their work and personal lives, and the technology they use for each, to the advantage of themselves and their employers.


The extent to which workers will go to achieve this raises important security issues for European businesses to address, such as the rise of ‘hired hackers’.


Work Life Blend


Positive work-life blending


Three quarters of the workers involved in Samsung’s research are work-life blending by doing personal tasks in work time (75 per cent) and work tasks in their personal time (77 per cent). Nearly four in every ten (38 per cent) say this helps them get more work done in the same amount of time. Almost one third (32 per cent) believe it helps them manage their personal tasks better, and the same proportion say it makes them less stressed.


Underlining the key role of mobile devices in work-life blending, European office workers have on average 10 personal apps, such as Facebook, Whatsapp or Candy Crush, on their work-issued smartphones, and eight work-related apps, such as Microsoft Outlook or Lync, on their personal smartphones. Over four in ten (41 per cent) use the same personal smartphone for work and personal purposes, and 32 per cent use the same work smartphone for both types of activities.


Rob Orr, Vice President of Enterprise Business, Samsung Europe, says, “Our study suggests that many workers 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 behavior, however, is the potential security risks raised by eager employees.”



The rise of hired hackers


The study also uncovers ‘hired hackers’: increasingly empowered and tech-savvy EU workers who use the technology of their choice to get the job done, regardless of work restrictions. For example:


  • More than a quarter (26 per cent) of all respondents have used their own technology to get around company-imposed obstacles to doing work (e.g. by using personal smartphones to access websites, such as file-sharing site Dropbox, that may be blocked on work-owned devices)
  • Over one third (36 per cent) of Millennials, aged 18 to 34, are hired hackers – the highest proportion of any age group in the study
  • Italians are most likely to be hired hackers (34 per cent), and office workers in Belgium and The Netherlands are least likely (19 per cent)


Commenting on the findings, 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. Research of this kind is invaluable as it paves the way to innovations, both behavioral and technological, that contribute to our overall well-being in both work and private life. If they haven’t already, European organizations need to design their work and security policies, and technology strategy, with this employee behavior in mind.”



The importance of people-inspired security


The research also indicates that there is considerable confusion amongst European office workers around what to do regarding mobile devices and IT security. For example:

  • Almost three in ten (29 per cent) of all respondents use their personal devices in the office for work purposes despite not knowing, or caring, whether they are actually allowed to (e.g. they might use a personal tablet computer to send work emails regardless of work policy on such activity)
  • Spanish workers are most likely to use personal devices in this way (39 per cent)
  • More than half (55 per cent) of all respondents don’t know if their company has a mobile security policy, or if they do either are unaware of its contents or actively ignore it


Educating staff about the secure use of company data is becoming increasingly important, especially in light of the EU General Data Protection Regulation expected later this year. The latest draft of the regulation proposes that fines of up to €100 million or five per cent of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is greater, should be imposed on businesses that break the rules, for example by not processing data securely.


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.


“The good news for businesses is that 70 per cent of our respondents say they are more security-conscious than they were a year ago, and 95 per cent of them have taken measures as a result, such as change their work (30 per cent) or personal passwords (39 per cent). European businesses can take advantage of this increasing awareness and momentum to better arm their employees with the knowledge and technology to support the evolution of their digital skills, work-life blending and IT security in and outside of work.”


Other findings of research include:

  • For over one third (36 per cent), blending work and personal activities on one device makes them feel more productive overall
  • Three in every ten workers (30 per cent) say that their work and personal life are more blended now than they’ve ever been
  • Seventy per cent of those who do personal tasks during work time spend up to half an hour on average each day paying bills or doing banking
  • Half (50 per cent) of those who work in their personal time spend up to forty-five minutes on average each day doing so before they officially start work
  • Italians are the top work-life blenders, with 90 per cent working during personal time and 86 per cent doing vice versa


The full research report and other content are available at For further news and updates, follow @SamsungAtWork and #WorkLifeBlend on Twitter.


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