We’re Spending More Time Online, But Doing What?

As I’ve written in the past, Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report is a treasure trove of data that most HR professionals miss. That’s because the report isn’t about HR trends, it’s about internet trends. But almost any way you look at it, HR is impacted significantly by the trends she presents.

I wrote about her take on the U.S. Income Statement in the Macro Thoughts section of the report a couple of weeks ago. This week, I’m going to start at the beginning.

It’s simple, really. In the first section — Global Internet Trends = Solid User Growth, Slowing Smartphone Growth — this chart appears:

This looks to me like adults spend 5.6 hours per day on the Internet:

  • 1 hours on devices (smartphones and tablets)
  • 2 hours on desktop/laptop computers
  • 20 minutes on other connected devices

Now to be clear, this is a mixture of work and personal time. But, Holy Moly, the average adult spends almost 6 hours per day connected to the Internet! Even if half of it isn’t at work, that still means that half of it is at work! That’s 3 hours a work day.

Tell me this doesn’t impact HR. Tell me this doesn’t impact productivity on the job. Tell me this doesn’t create less collaboration, less teamwork, less effectiveness on the job. And my first question is, how much of that time is spent researching and applying for new jobs? Yikes!

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This is one data point. Just one. But if it’s true, and your productivity numbers are slipping, maybe this is an area to explore. Or if your turnover is rising, maybe other employers are making it super easy to learn about their businesses, their cultures, and their job openings — all on the Internet. And making it super easy to apply via smartphone.

I’m not saying that the Internet is evil or that smartphones are the devil’s work (although I did hear an investor at a huge business conference opine both of those points of view a year ago…). I’m merely pointing out that it is unlikely that all that time being spent on the Internet is work-related, or project-related, or business-related, or customer-related.

What are you doing to re-harness this time and energy?

This article originally appeared on ChinaGorman.com.

China Gorman is a successful global business executive in the competitive Human Capital Management (HCM) sector. She is a sought-after consultant, speaker and writer bringing the CEO perspective to the challenges of building cultures of humanity for top performance and innovation, and strengthening the business impact of Human Resources.

Well known for her tenure as CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, COO and interim CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and President of Lee Hecht Harrison, China works with HCM organizations all over the world to enhance their brands and their go-to-market strategies. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates as well as the Advisory Boards of Elevated Careers, the Workforce Institute at Kronos, and WorldBlu. Addtionally, she chairs the Globoforce WorkHuman Advisory Board and the Universum North America Board. China is the author of the popular blog Data Point Tuesday, and is published and frequently quoted in media properties like Fortune, TLNT, Huffington Post, Inc., Fast Company, U.S. News & World Report and many others.

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