One in three U.S. adults now owns a tablet computer, up from 18% last year, according to a June 2013 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. So what about professional use? Are tablets standard-issue employee equipment? To find out, CDW surveyed professionals from midsize and large business, healthcare, higher education and state and local government to see how these devices are affecting day-to-day productivity.
Tablets in the workplace are fairly new. More than half of the respondents (56%) noted that they'd only been using a tablet at work for one year, and 32% have used a tablet for two years. Only 9% have been using a tablet at work for three years. Many of these tablets (59%) are personally owned, although 34% of respondents use a company-issued device. Some even use both.
For the most part, employees are using tablets at work for email, Web browsing, Office/productivity suites, file storage and social media. Employees surveyed say they enjoy working on tablets because they promote collaboration with coworkers and make work more enjoyable. Most importantly, tablets provide information access on the go.
However, tablets aren't replacing other devices for work purposes. Sixty-eight percent of respondents noted that they still use a desktop, 62% still use a laptop and 53% use smartphones all in addition to their tablets. In fact, only 2% of respondents said they only use a tablet for work tasks.
While employees assume tablets increase their productivity, organizations tend to wonder if they are more of a distraction. Since inquiring minds especially managers want to know, we asked.
CDW found that tablet users spend about two hours daily on their tablet for work purposes, gaining just over one hour in daily productivity thanks to tablet use. Employees are spending about a quarter of their total computing time on their tablets, and especially like the ability to manage email and calendars and to take notes. A whopping 84% of respondents confirmed that tablets do make them better multi-taskers while at work.
The perfect tablet
We also asked tablet users what the dream tablet would look like. Not surprisingly, what users value most is email access, long battery life and Web browsing capabilities. Other important features and functions cited included 3G/4G support, fast start, ease of use and a touchscreen interface. Tablet users also appreciate the portability of tablets and note that they also look for Office/productivity suites, an attachable keyboard or keypad, a high-resolution display and file storage capabilities.
Ironically, we did find differences in tablet preferences based on respondents' astrological signs. Respondents under the Aries designation enjoy presenting in meetings on tablets, while Libras value the hours gained in daily productivity. Cancers agreed that tablets are a great tool for customer/constituent service, and Leos say that tablets improve work flow.
According to Pew, there are no statistically significant differences in tablet ownership between men and women, or between members of different racial or ethnic groups. Ironically, we did find that there could be a difference in the productivity, availability and general happiness of your organization if and when employees become equipped with tablets. Regardless of your sign, it's impossible to deny the effects of tablets in our work and personal lives.
About CDW: CDW is a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government, education and healthcare. Ranked No. 31 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies and No. 267 on the Fortune 500, CDW was founded in 1984 and employs more than 6,700 coworkers. For the trailing 12 months ended March 31, 2013, the company generated net sales of $10.2 billion.
Read more about pc in Network World's PC section.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.