Every year Comms Business asks its audience for some future predictions and there is nearly always a common answer that crops up. It goes something along the lines of “when the youth of today grow up and enter the workplace this will have significant impact on technology which they use in their everyday lives anyway, working technology such as mobile, cloud or M2M will be the norm and employers will need to prepare for that.” A new report suggests an emerging breed of mobile workers is eroding traditional work patterns requiring employers to respond. Aruba Networks asks businesses across the globe ‘Are you ready for #GenMobile?’ by launching a report that explores a new breed of employee that is changing the workplace as we know it.
Who is #GenMobile
The report, which surveyed 5,000+ respondents worldwide, reveals characteristics of the newly dubbed #GenMobile, a group of employees defined by their preference for mobility both in terms of the devices they use and their approach to work. They have a tendency for non-traditional work hours, demand flexible work locations over higher salaries and request reliable internet, asking for Wi-Fi versus 4G, 3G or wired connections.
The majority of #GenMobile are in the early stages of their career, owns three or more connected devices (62%), and feels most productive when working from home (57%). #GenMobile are so attached to their mobile devices that they are 15 times more likely to give up coffee and seven times more likely to say goodbye to their televisions than their beloved smartphones.
The report reveals that, rather than acting as an aide to the workday, #GenMobile are shaping their working lives around their mobile devices. With the ability to work effectively any time, any place and on any device, they expect employers to make the policy and structural changes necessary to enable their preferred form of working.
Global trends driving #GenMobile into to the workforce
Wi-Fi matters: Nearly 58% prefer Wi-Fi at the expense of other connections (4G, 3G or wired), while 51% declare that their mobile devices help them to manage their lives.
Money isn’t everything: Over half (53%) would prefer to work from home two to three days a week than receive a 10% higher salary and nearly a third (32%) would rather have their employer pay for the smartphone of their choice than a 5% higher salary.
A new workday is emerging: Over four in ten (45%) believe they work most efficiently before 9am or after 6pm.
All things connected: It’s no surprise that almost half (45%) want their cars connected but it is interesting to see that a fifth (20%) want their clothes or shoes to be connected in the next five years.
Tech at work is essential: 38% would rather be able to bring their own device to work than have an office with a window, and 53% would rather their company paid for their choice of device than provided them with lunch.
Mobile at every pause: The average consumer spends 21 hours per week on their mobile devices doing errands like banking, or viewing movies for entertainment, and 37% expect their number of remote work hours to increase in the next twelve months.
How to spot #GenMobile
The typical #GenMobile abides by the ‘anywhere, anytime’ principles of flexible working, where office hours are no longer constrained to the traditional workday.
Aruba Networks believes that understanding and catering to #GenMobile’s needs can be the key to a productive workforce, while also ensuring global companies are in a competitive position. For example #GenMobile are more likely than other groups to access mobile apps such as Facebook (17%) and Twitter (14%). But they are also 20% more likely to access and respond to work emails on their mobile device. For #GenMobile, mobile is second nature to both a work and personal life.
However, there remains space for human interaction in the life of a #GenMobile. Nearly two thirds (63%) indicated that they still value the time when they can disconnect their devices, suggesting that companies must be able to provide effective downtime when it is needed.
“We’ve seen flexible working, BYOD and always-on connectivity growing for some time, but this report shows that it’s now become a way of life for those in the modern workforce,” said Ben Gibson, Chief Marketing Officer at Aruba Networks. “What this report suggests is that #GenMobile won’t have patience with companies who do not accommodate their mobile lives. In order to attract and keep the best employees, businesses need to start looking for solutions to ensure levels of empowerment and productivity in this emerging working world. Ultimately, many will have to totally redefine traditional work environments.”
Preparing your Workplace
Alongside the demand for increased mobility, the report calls for companies to take heed of #GenMobile associated technology requirements. For example, while the majority (70%) of the typical #GenMobile demands Wi-Fi or mobile broadband connectivity (12% more than average), operator-run technologies such as 3G and 4G are only preferred by 7% and 5% of respondents respectively.
“Making the necessary workplace changes needs to be supplemented with solid technology choices; employers will only succeed in motivating #GenMobile workers if they have the security and connections available to facilitate this shift,” added Gibson.
Around the World with #GenMobile
The increasing demand for flexible work styles is best illustrated in the US, where 79% of respondents declared that they feel most efficient when working at home.
Respondents in the UK are also above average in this regard, with 72% stating that the home office is where they can be most productive.
The blend between work and personal device usage is best illustrated in South Africa, where 54% of respondents use their smartphone or tablet to check work emails and 46% use the same device to carry out mobile shopping. At 80%, this region also has the highest percentage of smartphone owners.
The importance of personal devices for work is best illustrated in Germany, where 83% of respondents reported using their smartphone or tablet to check their emails.
In Sweden, 76% of respondents reported using their personal device for banking, illustrating how central mobile products have now become to fulfill an activity that was previously carried out in person.
The importance of personal devices to everyday life is best illustrated in France, where 62% of respondents declared that the devices make it easier for them to manage their personal and professional lives.
The purchasing of new, connected devices has shown strong recent growth in Spain, where 63% have acquired a smartphone in the past year. Over a quarter of the respondents here (27%) already own a tablet.
Finally in the Middle East, the ownership of mobile products in general is higher than any other region – 84% of respondents in the UAE own three or more connected devices (82% in Saudi Arabia), and they also display the highest ownership of tablets in the survey (42% in UAE, 31% in Saudi Arabia).
Get ready for the ‘Month of Mobility’
To accompany the #GenMobile report, Aruba has launched a virtual scavenger hunt for those IT managers at organisations that have initiated the steps to empower the emerging generation of mobile workers. During March 2014, which is appropriately labeled ‘Month of Mobility’, they will be publishing a #GenMobile assessment, a checklist of recommendations for all the mobility engineers and a variety of prizes.
There is no stopping this trend, the kids are coming whether you like it or not! The working environment is set to change and work will no longer be somewhere you go but just something you do, regardless of location. Most employers are aware of the mobility trend but haven’t always considered the implications of a mobile workforce let alone the infrastructure upgrades needed to support mobile devices. The interesting point about this trend is it is present throughout the UK plc from SMEs all the way up to the enterprise which can cause issues with companies that have next to no extra IT budget to manage the issue. How will the SME cope…only time will tell!
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