The Mobile Workforce: More productive, efficient, and healthy

In the post-PC era the laptop will be the new desktop and the smartphone and tablet will replace the laptop. Sound familiar?

It should because we’re in it; and with cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), the landscape of the workplace is rapidly changing. Mobility is our reality, and this enabling technology has brought about two major changes.

  1. It is no longer necessary that employees be tied to the physical office.
  2. Companies can feasibly implement a broader outsourcing strategy, tapping into services offered by partners worldwide.

These changes mean that we are able to work anytime and anywhere— away from the primary office, either part or all of the time. Within this environment, there is the potential for enhanced productivity and connectivity.

Studies have shown that employees are more efficient outside the traditional office environment and hours. In 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the average employee workday is 8.8 hours, yet the average workday for mobile workers is closer to 10 hours a day. This adds up to six more productive weeks of work each year. Considering that the world’s mobile worker population is estimated to reach 1.3 billion (37.2% of the total workforce) by 2015, that’s a lot more time spent actually working.

But it’s not all work and no play—remote employees report having a greater sense of well-being because they can define their own social boundaries between work and personal time. This way they are not only happier but inadvertently more connected.

The iPass Mobile Workforce Report (PDF) found that 88% of mobile employees were checking their smartphones during downtime and, even on vacation, only 6% of employees surveyed were completely disconnected. The mobile device creates an on-demand workforce, always ready to address work or personal matters.

It remains difficult to discern if the cost savings of working offsite (i.e. cost of travel, free office food and drinks, and other office overhead costs) outweigh the expenses in embracing mobility. In his article, Mobilizing teams to work (and succeed) worldwide, Patrick O’Rourke quotes a recent survey done by Symantec (2013) that refers to companies willing to embrace mobility (and the changes that come with it) as “innovators.” 

According to O’Rourke, “while innovators are indeed, spending more on their losses, from developments in mobility, two thirds of the innovating companies said that it was still worth it. Why? Because greater productivity, efficiency, and agility are all positive results of mobility.”

The mobile workforce is a large and pressing topic in today’s business world. Continue to check in as we dive deeper into the implications of the mobile workplace throughout November and December.