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The Next Stage for Mobility

To say there has been “hype” around the dawn of mobile working would be an understatement. Since businesses have latched onto the cost effectiveness and increased productivity generated from the “tablet in the enterprise”, companies of all sizes across the UK (and globally) have jumped on the mobility bandwagon.

It is certainly easy to see why; we’ve witnessed how remote working can save employees time and increase their productivity. In fact, in a major study of mobile working conducted for iPass, it was revealed that more than a quarter of respondents said they worked 15 to 20 hours extra a week thanks to mobile technology. With such increased productivity and businesses becoming more aware of the software they need to ensure the security of company data – mobility seems to be an overwhelming success story.

However, in my opinion, the story doesn’t stop there. Yes, the benefits of mobility are undeniable, but for long term and sustained results, companies need a comprehensive plan in place. The importance of security strategies for mobile working is a well-trodden discussion topic; but what about the other areas of the business which need to be redressed in light of mobile working?

According to the iPass study, workers have struggled to draw the line between the personal and the professional since the dawn of mobile working. In fact, Carolyn Axtell, senior lecturer at Sheffield University’s Institute of Work and Psychology Management, said the mobility trend is ‘likely to have significant repercussions for work-life balance and employee well-being’. The research also discussed how some workers are unable to step away from their smartphone (even whilst on holiday) and other respondents claimed their sleep had been affected by the inability to ‘switch off’.

At first these results seem worrying, but in my mind, the problem is not insurmountable. It’s down to the business to address this HR issue by implementing policies to help mobile workers manage their time effectively and know where to draw the line. It’s also important to ensure employees understand how to make the most of their devices and the ways in which they can be used more efficiently, to avoid the associated headaches of never being able to switch of, or frustrations when technology doesn’t work.

It’s often a management-led issue, in which senior execs need to pave the way by ‘switching-off’ at a certain point in the day, avoiding the inevitable pressure on employees who feel they need to be online because their directors are too. Equally the IT department, responsible for the maintenance and security of devices used within the business, needs to become more accessible. There’s nothing worse than an employee not wanting to ask a question for fear of not getting a response, or being made to feel, for want of a better word, thick!

By building these relationships and internal policies, businesses are likely to see continued success with mobile working. It’s all about training and support – real interaction with the IT department and a close eye kept on associated HR issues. If you take a step back and think about how far our working lives have come since the adoption of mobile working, it’s been a monumental shift and one which will continue to evolve with employees, businesses and technology transformations alike.

Adrian Simpson, Chief Innovation Officer for SAP UKI has been at SAP for over ten years working on the rollout of new technologies within SAP, within the partner ecosystem, and ultimately to SAP customers. This has included managing teams within SAP Portals, the Global NetWeaver Initiative, Customer SOA Advisory Office as well as the Technology and Innovation solution architects.