Work Wherever You Are

Today we kick off a two-part series with Projects At Work, an online community of practitioners and thought leaders seeking to better understand the mobile workforce. “The Truth about Working from Anywhere” makes the case for unleashing productivity any time, any place via technology. Contributing editor Janis Rizzuto shares details from the first half of the report.

“Planes, trains and automobiles.” That’s not just the title of a popular ’80s movie. It’s a list of places where people work. Today’s mobile workforce can be productive from a multitude of locations well outside the four walls of an office.

Just who is driving this trend? There may be two drivers, actually. Both businesses and employees have much to gain from flexible, on-the-go work arrangements. Lots of them are already there: VDC Research Group says the global mobile worker population exceeded 1 billion in 2010 – and will grow to 1.2 billion by 2014.

Nowadays, just about every industry can find ways to enhance worker mobility and garner business benefits from it, including competitive advantages, reduced costs and increased productivity. Equipping staff with reliable mobile technologies so they can travel to project locations wins favor with customers and develops loyalty. And, as companies expand their ranks of teleworkers and mobile professionals, overhead expenses to support them decrease. By some estimates, office space for the average worker costs $10,000 per year. Switching an employee from an office-based to mobile work environment brings an estimated 15-to-35 percent increase in productivity.

The personal gains in mobility for individuals are just as compelling. Feelings of increased employee satisfaction and better work-life balance flow from work on the go or at home. Ask mobile workers and they’ll say they are happier, healthier, wealthier and more balanced than their counterparts in cubicles. There’s a reason that someone coined the phrase “chained to my desk” and harried office workers use it to express frustration.

Employees find that being deployed in the location where they are most effective is liberating – even life-changing. And fewer workers in the future will accept anything less. The so-called “digital natives” generation who grew up as pervasive technology users are likely to reject the more traditional 9-to-5-in-a-cubicle mentality.

So next time you’re in the air or on the rails, and you see someone tapping a tablet or participating in a video conference, resist the urge to make small talk. There’s work in progress.

To learn more on this topic, download the free white paper.