By Thomas Olson | Published: Saturday, September 1, 2012, 8:58 p.m. on

Lee Runchey, a public relations executive, got a harried 6 a.m. phone call one Sunday in October from a client with a big problem.

The manager of a rock band she represented said bad weather stranded the entertainers 2,000 miles away from the media events she had lined up for them later that day.

“But with every email and phone number programmed into my phone, I resolved everything quickly without having to go into my office,” said Runchey of Beverly Hills, Calif.

Working longer hours and weekends is common in today’s labor market. Experts say overtime is being fueled by two main factors: Mobile technology, which puts ever-faster and more-advanced portable devices in the hands of employees to connect them to the work place; and tenuous economic conditions, which discourage business owners from spending money to hire more workers.

“I’m amazed how many emails I get between 8 p.m. and midnight from people who are obviously working from home,” said John Malloy, owner of Charleston, S.C., office of Sanford Rose Associates, a large recruiting and consulting firm.

“Every company that’s trying to improve their profit margins will stretch people as far as they can and as long as they can before they’ll hire these days,” said Malloy, who formerly ran a manufacturing company that supplied automakers.

A national survey of 258 small businesses in May by Sage North America said 42 percent of their employees are working more hours per week than they were five years ago at the onset of the Great Recession, which lasted from December 2007 to July 2009.

According to Sage, a business services provider based in Lawrenceville, Ga., 78 percent of the business owners use a mobile device to access work-related information while off site. Another 61 percent of business owners equip employees with devices to do the same.

Technology extends work hours — often including the workers’ commute home — by letting them email associates and clients, check and update schedules and access electronic files, said Sage’s survey.
Read more: