Everyone knows the availability of on-demand information has forever changed the way we approach our work. Emails no longer pile up because people answer them on the go. No more version control concerns, because collaborative documents are stored on a shared cloud application. Productivity bottlenecks? Relieved by the ability to log in to online workrooms from anywhere. And so on.
Is all of this a good thing? You can argue that work-life balance has been impacted. However, this change is also about user expectations; with mobile devices occupying every pause of our personal life, it was essential to provide a working experience that could incorporate these technologies. Mobility makes people more informed, and in my experience, it also puts them more in control of their schedules. No need to stay late in the office if you can finish that email on the train, for example.
But what is less well understood is the extent of mobility’s benefits to businesses. At Aruba we’re often asked questions seeking to quantify these improvements: How much more productive is my workforce? What’s the impact of mobility on hiring and retention? Are mobility benefits distributed equally across workers of all ages?
This is why the recently conducted global workforce mobility study with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) proved so interesting. It provided clear insights into the benefits of investing in mobile technologies in the workplace, because it improves employee engagement and drives real business outcomes.
GenMobile is an Ageless Demographic
First, the study debunked the common misconception that Millennials benefit the most by being mobility-enabled. It’s simply not true. The research shows workers across the age spectrum – from 18-65 – have exceptionally similar perspectives around the importance of mobility and mobile-optimized workplaces.
Among the findings: 100% of employees own a smartphone, use an employer-issued smartphone or both.
In other words, all employees are now GenMobile, which is an ageless demographic best described by its affinity for mobile devices, rather than by birth year.
Clearly, these findings indicate that optimising workplace mobility is now firmly in line with user expectations. Every employee is mobility-enabled, and whether or not a business take advantage of this has a direct impact on business performance.
Mobile-working Goes Beyond Wi-Fi
Next, it’s critical to understand that optimising workplace mobility goes beyond providing a high-performance Wi-Fi. It’s about taking the tools that empower the creative and collaborative spirit found everywhere across your organisation, and making it widely available at your organisation. Applications for online chat and collaboration, video conferencing, connecting new machinery as part of an IoT strategy; all of this is becoming a fundamental requirement for any enterprise to make new discoveries, and as a result show innovation.
The EIU study showed that organisations offering these kinds of mobile technologies are three times better at supporting anywhere, anytime workspace designs, like hot desking. Such workspaces provide employees with options to interact with whoever is appropriate on a given day or for a given project.
Recovering 320 Hours, Per Person, Annually
So what does the survey say about the productivity gains companies can expect from a robust mobile environment? Quite a lot.
At mobility-optimised companies, projects that typically take an individual eight hours to complete are done in about seven. That’s a net gain of approximately one hour per person, or 16%, regardless of organisation size, type or region.
To put this in perspective, 16% of productivity regained in an eight-hour workday adds up to about 320 hours per year, taking standard holidays into consideration. That’s like realising over eight extra weeks of output, per employee.
At scale, this benefit is tremendous. For a global organization with 10,000 employees, that’s 3.2 million hours of productivity recovered annually, or 80,000 weeks.
Effects on Attracting and Retaining Top Talent
Beyond productivity, a common concern among employers that we speak to is how to attract and retain the right talent. Employing the best people is any company's key to driving innovation. In primary markets, competition is particularly fierce. Some businesses tell us that they struggle terribly to compete for the best employees and are at a loss as to what to do next.
Insights from our study hint at a solution. Overall, companies at the mobility forefront are three times better at attracting workers. They also enjoy higher retention rates, reporting 21% greater employee loyalty.
From an employee perspective, a quarter of all workers (25%) say robust mobility is the primary factor for accepting a job.
This means engaging the best talent might require greater investment in mobility. Equally, limiting mobility could prove to be constraining – or even alienating – to existing workers.
What does a productive mobile workplace look like?
Despite the emphasis on creating “mobile-first” workplaces, EIU’s research suggests only about 11 percent of all companies are mobile-optimised today. In contrast 50% of organisations were judged to be behind the curve in mobility. This means that many companies may be unable to create the kind of environment that will get the most out of their employees, a key driver for company growth. That seems like an unnecessary and troublesome obstacle to place on your business.
For mobility leaders, we all know that ongoing investments are needed to stay ahead of the pack. But while technology sets the platform for adopting new innovations, it should not require a ‘rip and replace’ of your current equipment. Any solution running an open standards model can be designed to fit your IT environment and complement existing systems, for example. Mobility may be a business essential today, but there is no IT infrastructure that cannot safely support it.
Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, has been recognised with the highest score in 6 of 6 Gartner Critical Capabilities Use Cases* for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure. To read the reports, and to find out more about how you can achieve efficiency, innovation and growth through your network, click here.
Morten Illum, VP of EMEA at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
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