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Telenor Survey Finds That Professional Women Use Mobiles To Balance Work & Life – But Mostly Just Life

A new Telenor Group survey published today has uncovered interesting insights into professional women’s habits and values with regards to mobile connectivity. The “Tech Trends: Women” survey discovers that women use mobile phones primarily for personal enjoyment and not for business. And despite much talk of digital detoxing, social media is as popular as ever

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The survey was conducted on a sample of 1300 professional women aged 25-40 in Scandinavia and Asia (Malaysia, Myanmar, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and Thailand). This was supplemented by in-depth interviews with women in Norway, Singapore and Thailand. The markets surveyed represent a range of economies, socio-political systems, stages of industrial development and mobile penetration.

Women’s top mobile activities

All six markets share the use of social media, personal messenger apps, music and news as respondents’ most frequent mobile activities. Between 50-80% of women in all markets say they use social media apps most out of any other mobile features, despite much talk of social media fatigue. Messaging apps is a close second in most markets, but stands out as the top choice in Singapore.

Reading news is highly ranked in Norway and Myanmar, and listening to music is Sweden and Singapore’s third highest activity. Despite the popularity of wifi-calling, women in Malaysia and Myanmar highlight personal phone calls in their three most frequent mobile activities.

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Interestingly, when looking at top mobile activities, the survey found that the degrees to which the personal supersedes the professional on mobile phones shifts as you head from West to East. In Norway and Sweden, women list work among their least frequent mobile uses, and try to completely shut out the office in the evening. Women in Southeast Asia allow work to percolate through more of their personal time. Women in Thailand and Myanmar, however, both list work-related messaging and phone calls as fourth and sixth most frequent activities.

Most common emotions when using the mobile

When it comes to feelings associated with mobile usage, women in all six markets were aligned in feeling “entertained” and “connected to the world” when using their mobiles. Interestingly for the third choice, Swedish women say they felt “addicted” while Myanmar women report being “optimistic”. Malaysia, Norway, Singapore and Thailand all share feeling “relaxed” while on their mobile. Feelings such as “depressed”, “stressed”, “overwhelmed”, and “exposed” were least frequently identified across the board.

Where women say no to mobiles – and where they don’t…

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Professional women use their mobile a lot – but there are situations in which they will disconnect. Women in all six markets say job interviews are among their top “phone off” locations. More than 90% of Scandinavian women say funerals are inappropriate for mobiles, compared to a quarter of Asian women.

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Interestingly, the situations where women keep their mobiles on speak volumes, as the mobile permeates previously “sacred” social and private settings. Women in all markets are more accepting of phones in “romantic situations” than they are of phones on during job interviews or on airplanes. Thai and Myanmar women are the most unopposed to phones in intimate settings (only 13% and 3% say “turn them off”) while 39% of Swedes are against mixing phones and romance. Scandinavians are unopposed to mobiles in the loo, while Asians turn them off.

Do women want a “female-only Internet”?

One of the more provocative questions posed in the survey, “To which degree would you support a women-only Internet?” generated an interesting response. Most eyebrow-raising: 65% of Thai women support having an Internet which is accessible only to women, because they say it would lead to less harassment and more relevant content. Singaporean women align with Scandinavian women in rejecting the concept (83% in Singapore, 90% in Sweden and 97% in Norway), saying an all-women Internet would be discriminatory and would not address safety or harassment issues. The few that were in favour, stated that a female-only Internet amongst others would be safer for kids.

“Although the notion of a ‘women-only Internet’ is a hypothetical one, we think that these wildly varied answers warrant further conversations about what women are dealing with online in Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia in order to support an idea such as this,” said Gibson.

Mobile services that have changed women’s lives

Across the board, women in all six markets say that the most personally life-changing apps are social media, including messaging apps. Mobile banking is a close second in Scandinavia. In Asia, Singaporeans point to messaging apps as personal game-changers while Malaysian women appreciate various services in equal measure – social media, messaging, entertainment and search engines.

Impact of mobile on work-life balance

As for how mobile technology has impacted their working lives, the most common answers in Sweden and Norway are “not changed” or that mobiles allow them “flexibility to work anywhere”. Thai, Myanmar, Singaporean and Malaysian women agree that mobiles allow for more work flexibility. Singaporean and Malaysian women add that they think mobiles help with efficiency and work-life balance.

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