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Workforce going mobile March 22, 2011

Posted by Mark Hillary in Internet, IT Services, Outsourcing.
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The entire workforce is mobile these days. If you don’t believe it then think for a moment about how a typical worker in any professional industry might start the day.

Get up, get breakfast, check the latest news on a smart-phone while eating toast, catch the bus to work listening to the news on the radio whilst browsing the web and checking emails. By the time the worker arrives at the office, all those early emails from Asia are dealt with and he has an update from the media on what is happening in the world that day.

If it still sounds far-fetched or untraditional then take a look around you on your morning commute. Sure, there are still some people with books and newspapers, but there are an increasingly large number of people who are connected the moment they pick up their phone.

This ability to use the web, collect email, and produce documents while on the move has never been so easy or pervasive – these devices are not issued by NASA, they are the iPhones and Android devices available on the High Street.

This always-on ability flies in the face of organisations that ban social networks inside the office. Which office worker faced with a social network ban never uses a social network? They just use their phone instead.

At present, the implications for the always-connected workforce are only starting to be understood, but they spread wider than just creating the opportunity to check email on a commute.

Some changes might be:

  • Employees are generally using higher-specification equipment now than the official kit issued by the company. Will this change the technology function of many companies so they just offer a basic infrastructure, a platform to connect to with bulletproof security? The IT department, as we know it, will be dead.
  • Commuting patterns may change entirely as employees are more seamlessly available 9 to 5 without being in a fixed location.
  • The fabric of many cities may change entirely as workers desert their core and accept a longer commute once or twice a week.

The humble smartphone and the freedom it offers to knowledge workers could change work and societies as fundamentally as the railways shaped Victorian society.

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