Leitz has produced a new whitepaper highlighting the challenges posed by mobile working MOBILE WORKING
The Leitz whitepaper, Work Smart. Work Mobile., follows on from the Future of Work study commissioned by Esselte Corporation in 2012. Andrew Crosthwaite, one of the authors of the original whitepaper, has extended
his research into a more specific aspect of our working lives, mobility.
The report, which is to be published in three parts, includes a survey of over 800 workers in the four largest economies of Europe: the UK, Germany, France and Italy.
Part one of the report states that smarter workers aren’t coming, they are here right now; and if they aren’t yet quite senior enough to be making major buying decisions, they are already at the very least influencing them.
A specialised and virtual workforce
Leitz says the workforce of 2015 and beyond will increasingly be specialised and virtual, more likely to be working flexible hours or part-time, and be based outside head office for most, or all, of the time.
A third of those polled by the company do 30% or more of their work outside the office; less than one quarter only work at their main fixed base; and one in five do at least 50% of their work elsewhere.
The perception of mobile, contract, flexible and temporary workers is changing rapidly and, as workplaces become more multi-generational, different attitudes to work and working will emerge.
Management surveys across the globe have identified Gen X and Y characteristics that will impact on the future of work, including a greater tendency to multi-task amongst those who have grown up switching between devices.
The new mobility
The report states that mobile working is transforming the way we are doing and, more crucially, will be doing business; it’s more than just another way of accessing the web, but instead requires a set of new tools and new means of connectivity.
Trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) have caused more and more knowledge workers to use their own devices at work because they are more up-to-date and relevant than those provided by their companies.
The whitepaper adds that despite currently being led by fashion rather than functionality, wearable technology is highly likely to take off in the business world. In the same way that the iPhone gave impetus to smartphones, the introduction of iconic ‘must have’ wearable devices will accelerate adoption.
Keeping in touch
The ‘always on’ needs of the smart worker (and the smart customer) will have to be accommodated, wherever they are. The days when being away from the office meant you were not contactable are long gone.
Ubiquitous Wi-Fi will give smart workers instant access to essential work information and equipment, on demand, wherever they are. But there’s no point being connected, if you run out of power away from the office. Poor battery life is the perennial complaint of smartphone users – regardless of the device they own.
Leitz research shows that 60% of business people run out of battery power at least once a month, and 60% have to restrict their phone usage at some stage to conserve power. Nearly three quarters of those questioned carry a charger with them and, in the course of any month, nearly half are forced to borrow one from someone else.
In the past, when companies operated as standalone units and had relatively stable workforces, information was kept on-site because that’s where the majority of workers were based and access to it was tightly controlled.
Today’s flexible style of ‘always on’ working will require different levels of support and, most importantly, much higher levels of security. Managing increasingly mobile, transient, self-sufficient workforces will bring new challenges for organisations, and the equipment that people use to do their work will increasingly facilitate this.
For example, while 50% of IT professionals believe employees obey policies on personal use of work-provided mobile devices, 70% of employees say they don’t. Leitz argues that the issue of security is particularly problematic with BYOD. As devices are employees’ own property, what control can companies exercise over them?
Security isn’t just an issue in the digital space. The rise of remote working means people increasingly look at sensitive material on screens in public places. Serviced offices often have ‘pods’ for individual workers, but many people find themselves working in open plan or in a library-type environment. Over half of those surveyed by Leitz say they have noticed someone looking over their shoulder to read confidential information on a tablet or laptop. A quarter say this happens frequently or all the time.