The shocking truth about DAD - Part one

This month in the magazine we probe the way in which our digitally connected age is affecting our brains. In the first part of our exploration into what's become known as Divided Attention Disorder (DAD), we reveal
why you work one month a year unpaid...

Thought that all that new technology was meant to make your working life easier? So why did you spend a whole month last year working for free?

Here’s how according to Carsten Sørensen, Senior Lecturer in information systems and innovation at the Department of Management LSE who’s been studying connectedness and the workplace in a series of annual reports for telecoms networks since 2006.

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“If we estimate that half of the working population (around 33 million people) does not turn off its mobile phone and therefore is reachable on stand-by an additional 16 hours each day, then this translates into an additional 256 million hours of stand-by time each day, or 61 billion hours each year (assuming 240 working days per year).Obviously, most people would not be contacted which would translate into a significantly lower number of actual working hours.

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"However, we also need to factor in email where there are less barriers as it is asynchronous and can be dealt with whenever the recipient wants to. A 2008 survey I was involved with found that around 20% of people email from their phone but with iPhones and Android phones, 50% at least is reasonable as an estimate in 2010. If we assume, conservatively, that each person reads five emails per day in their own time, taking around five minutes, and replies to 20 emails per week of a total of 40 minutes, then this amounts to around 55 hours per year.

"However, highly intensive email users will typically get 100-150 emails per day, and frequently will spend an hour or so each day dealing with them. This then amounts to an extra month’s worth of unpaid work, meaning half of the UK workforce, in principle, is on unpaid stand-by.

"Fortunately, a large proportion of workers will claw back some of that by spending an hour or more each day on private email, mobile phone and social network sites. The key is to measure outcome instead of the process of work."

To read more on the shocking effects of Digital Attention Disorder see the January issue of Esquire. On sale now.