Skip to Primary Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to Main Content All 3M.com Site Map

3M study reveals lost productivity from visual privacy concerns can cost a company £660k per year


22 March 2013

Diversified technology company 3M today announced the results of a new Visual Privacy Productivity Study, conducted by The Ponemon Institute.  Key findings revealed that companies can lose more than data as remote working increases, with 50 per cent of employees answering that they are less productive when their visual privacy is at risk in public places.  3M will be addressing the issues raised by the study during Infosecurity Europe, 23-25 April 2013 at London’s Earls Court, Stand E92.  Stand visitors can get hands on with the latest products available for laptops, smartphones and tablets, designed to equip today’s mobile workforce with a simple visual data security solution.

The Visual Privacy Productivity Study showed that employees are forced to either trade-off working and risking private data being overlooked by nosy neighbours, or stop working altogether.  Based on these findings, lost productivity due to employee visual privacy concerns is potentially costing a US business organisation with more than 7,500 people over $1 million dollars per year(1) (equivalent to £660K(2)).

“While many companies realise that snooping and visual privacy presents a potential data security issue, there has been little research regarding how the lack of visual privacy impacts a business’ bottom line,” says Larry Ponemon, Chairman and Founder of The Ponemon Institute.  “As workers become more mobile and continue to work in settings where there is the potential for visual privacy concerns, companies need to find solutions to address productivity as it relates to computer visual privacy in addition to dealing with the fundamental security issues of mobile devices.”

The study was conducted among 274 individuals from five organisations in a variety of sectors in the US.  More than half stated that their visual privacy had been violated whilst travelling or in other public places such as cafes, airports and hotels, and two out of three admitted to exposing sensitive data on mobile devices whilst outside the workplace. When asked how their organisation handles the protection of sensitive information in a public location, 47 per cent did not think any importance was put on this and that no adequate policies were in place.

The study concludes by stating that equipping mobile workers with privacy filters on their mobile devices has positive effects, with employees twice as productive when on-screen data is protected.  With the average privacy filter costing from £30, this can quickly be recovered by the increase in productivity and the potential cost of compromised data. Companies with mobile workers should have clear and defined policies, educating staff on data security and sensitivity and equipping them with the appropriate tools.

Some other interesting findings include:

  • Employees are 50 per cent less productive when their visual privacy is at risk and lost productivity costs an organisation approximately £350 per employee per year (3).
  • Visual privacy impacts on transparency as users that value privacy are less likely to enter information on an unprotected screen.
  • Women value privacy more (61 per cent) than men (50 per cent), and women’s productivity is more positively impacted than men’s when the screen is protected with a privacy filter.
  • Older employees value privacy more, with 61 per cent of over 35s compared to 51 per cent of under 35s placing importance on privacy.

“Productivity loss is a major discovery in this survey and will hopefully encourage companies across all sectors to consider employee working practices and behaviours,” said Rob Green, Marketing Executive at 3M’s Speciality Display & Projection Division.

Visitors to the 3M stand (E92) at Infosecurity Europe will see some creative examples of the lengths people go to in order to hide their sensitive data from prying eyes in public places.  The mobile protection product portfolio from 3M will be on display, including the latest screen protectors and privacy filters for Apple iPhones and notebook computers such as the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

For more information about the 3M Visual Privacy Productivity Study or to download the whitepaper, please visit www.3Mscreens.com/ProductivityStudy 

To find out more about 3M products and the wider 3M Mobile Interactive Solutions portfolio, please visit www.3M.co.uk/mobileinteractive

3M is a trademark of 3M Company
Apple, iPhone, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the US and other countries.
Infosecurity is a registered trademark of Reed Exhibitions Limited


(1) Analysis is based on assumptions and empirical findings from various Ponemon Institute surveys and studies.  Assumes 26% of employees travel with a computer or comparable device.

(2) At an exchange rate of c. $0.66 to £1.00

(3) Analysis is based on assumptions and empirical findings from various Ponemon Institute surveys and studies. Assumes value of labour of typical business user in US is $56 per hour.


Media enquiries:
Neesham Public Relations
Contact: Beky Cann
Tel: 01296 628180
Email: bekyc@neesham.co.uk