The Multi-device workplace: Supertaskers taking over

In a world of mobile devices and constant connectivity, being able to multitask across many platforms may become a much desired skill by employers.


In the digital age, we are constantly attached to our devices. They are in our homes, in our cars, in our pockets and even in our offices. The mobile device has completely revolutionised the way we approach work, making business operations more flexible and allowing us to be constantly connected and even collaborate from different locations.

We are now using not just one device in the workplace, but multiple at once, and as a result a new generation of multi-screen multitaskers has been created. But how will this technology trend affect professionals in IT careers as well as the wider workforce going forward?

The role of multiple devices in the office

The mobile device is gaining increasing prominence in many workplaces, with a number of companies incorporating tablets and other technology into their processes, and embracing a bring your own device policy. According to a 2013 report by Deloitte Access Economics, IT policies such as this are linked to job satisfaction rates, with over 80 per cent of satisfied employees working for a business that has them.

Yet a 2015 report by software company Qlik has revealed that it is also becoming increasingly common for employees to utilise several devices at once to accomplish tasks at work. Close to 80 per cent of workers surveyed globally claimed to have used multiple devices to achieve objectives while on the job, demonstrating that a large portion of the workforce has discovered the potential for mobile devices to improve their ability to multitask.

For example, 60 per cent of the survey respondents said they liked to use smartphones to keep up with their emails at the same time as attending a presentation, as opposed to checking them on a computer later.

The effects of multiple device use

Along with the emergence of multiple device use comes speculation about the possible affects of doing this. The Qlik report shows that 63 per cent of respondents in the USA believe that harnessing several devices at once helps them to be more productive. However, technological multi-tasking like this actually decreases effectiveness overall, as the person is not concentrating on a single task at hand and their attention is divided.

Nevertheless, there are certainly benefits to the use of mobile devices, particularly in terms of its collaborative potential. According to Gartner Research Vice President Monica Basso, collaboration may have been limited to messages and phone calls in the past, but new technology has changed this.

“Today, smartphones and tablets have larger screens, touch-based user interfaces, location support, broad network connectivity, enhanced cameras and video support, voice over IP, and so on. Such features enable a range of applications – both traditional and new – for employees to better communicate, collaborate, socialise, create and consume content,” she said.

“Empowering workers with mobile collaboration capabilities through smart devices, personal cloud sharing and mobile apps is a smart move for organisations to innovate in the workplace and stay competitive.”

This trend may increase the need for people in app developer roles, as more and more businesses close the gap between innovation and collaboration.

Supertaskers on the rise

In consequence, there is a growing number of employees who regularly and efficiently do more than two tasks at once. Cisco refers to these people as “Supertaskers” in a 2014 technology report, revealing that as much as 40 per cent of Generation X and Y fall into this category.

Interestingly, 43 per cent of Generation Y supertask best using a smartphone, as do 37 per cent of Generation X. In addition, 70 per cent of HR professionals claim that Gen Y employees are more efficient when they are allowed to complete tasks on their smartphones. These statistics highlight the way mobile devices has dramatically shifted the way a generation of professionals work, and it is likely that this trend will continue into the future.

According to the report, 66 per cent of HR professionals feel that by the year 2020, supertasking will be the most desired skill by their employers.

How can you become a Supertasker?

With this in mind, it would be advantageous for those looking for a job opportunity in IT, or indeed any other industry, to develop supertasking abilities. CIO suggests several tips for working on multiple devices.

  • The cloud is your biggest supertasking asset, as it allows you to access your information on any compatible device at any time. By storing your data on the cloud, you will be able to tackle tasks on as many screens as you choose while still maintaining continuity.
  • Likewise, make sure all your communications, be they emails, video calls or messages, are synchronised across all devices so you can reach them whenever you need to and always stay up-to-date.
  • Lastly, pinpoint which applications help to you be most productive, and give you the greatest flexibility to multitask.

By utilising a multi-device approach to your work and learning to multitask well, you are likely to increase your hireability in the long term, especially as the ever-innovating business landscape continues to grow. So grab that tablet, smartphone and laptop, and get working.