Sixteen percent of workers across the world are "hyperconnected" - using a minimum of seven devices for work and personal access, plus at least nine applications like IM, text messaging, web conferencing and social networks, according to a recent study.

The research by IDC, commissioned by Nortel, found that 36 percent are "increasingly connected" by using a minimum of four devices for work and personal access to six or more applications. These users will soon join the ranks of the "hyperconnected," however, spurring a 40 percent growth in that category in five years, according to IDC.

This trend will create challenges for enterprises in managing new tools of connectivity while providing information securely and reliably, and ensuring that this connectivity is productive, IDC states.

The firm's research queried 2,400 people of various age groups across 17 countries in North America, Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America, working across various industries and company sizes. The countries with the highest percentage of hyperconnected respondents in the study were China and the United States.

Survey questions covered topics such as how many devices and applications an individual used, where they use them most frequently and what time of day. The survey also measured respondents' attitudes to current communications technology and assessments of how widely they adopt them for personal and business use.

The study also found that:

• Latin America has the largest percentage of hyper/increasingly connected at 64 percent. This compares to 59 percent in Asia Pacific, 50 percent in Europe, and 44 percent in North America.

• Europe and the Middle East rely heavily on instant and text messaging in business. Over 50 percent of EMEA respondents - more than twice the number of North American respondents - said they use instant and text messaging for business.

• Phones more important than wallets and keys. When asked which item people would take if they had to leave the house for 24 hours, more than 38 percent of global respondents chose their mobile phone over their wallet, keys, laptop and MP3 player. Less than 30 percent chose their wallet first. The 'hyperconnected' preferred their laptops.

• Social network adoption growing in the enterprise. More than one in three people use social networks and online communities such as blogs, wikis, and online forums for business communication - with Central America/Latin America workers leading the world.

• Enterprises struggling with disparate communications. Nearly one in five respondents found it hard to manage multiple disparate sources of communication. Users in the finance and high-tech segments are the most dissatisfied with the way their companies manage multiple communications sources. More than 25 percent said their corporate systems are slow and unreliable.

• Hyperconnectivity varies by industry, from 9-percent of respondents in healthcare to 25 percent in high tech and 21 percent in finance industries.

• Multiple devices are the global norm. Seventy percent of respondents connect to the Internet at home with more than one device. In Asia Pacific that number jumps to 80 percent. Nearly 80 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds connect to the Internet at home with more than one device.