Skip to main content

Paul Vasarhelyi

Canadians may love their technology, but they prefer face-to-face meetings over communicating over e-mail and the telephone, a new survey says.

Nearly seven out of 10 Canadian employees say they prefer talking in person to their colleagues rather than using technology, according the latest Workmonitor survey from Randstad Canada, a staffing, recruitment and human resources services company.

Three-quarters of workers also said they detest when colleagues answer their phone or respond to e-mails during a meeting. However, only 16 per cent of Canadian respondents claimed to be guilty of that offence.

Technology etiquette depends on the nature of the meeting and the environment, says Stacy Parker, executive vice-resident of marketing for Randstad Canada, in a statement.

"Smartphones can have a very appropriate place during a meeting or business setting, especially if using it serves to facilitate or enhance the speed of business," says Ms. Parker. "On the other hand, it can feel like a slight when you are meeting with someone, just to have them pull out their phone and read a text message while you're in conversation."

Canadian workers aren't the only ones with this view. About 75 per cent of employees surveyed from around the world say it's rude to answer a call or reply to e-mail during a business meeting. However, about 20 per cent of the respondents said they did just that.

And while we may be glued to our smartphones and our e-mail, 42 per cent of Canadian employees said they block out times in their day when they ignore the ping of their e-mail and the ring of their phone. But nearly the same number of workers felt they fell short of their responsibilities when they didn't respond to phone calls and e-mail messages immediately.

About 47 per cent of Canadian employees have their own smartphone, while 13 per cent have a device provided by an employer and have access to work e-mail.

As a result, more people said their work and personal time merge. About 46 per cent of employees said they handle private matters during working hours, and 51 per cent said they handle work during private time. Nearly 30 per cent of employees said their boss expected them to be available to work at all times. Vacations were also a victim to the access that technology gives. About 44 per cent said they receive work-related calls or e-mails while on holiday.

The survey covers 32 countries in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas. The study is conducted online among employees aged 18 to 65, working a minimum of 24 hours a week in a paid job. At least 400 workers per country were surveyed between January and February.