Study Finds Out-of-Office Workers Not As Productive - How to Fix it

By Rachel Ramsey June 22, 2012

What do airports, restaurants, beaches, cars, elevators, gyms and public restrooms all have in common? They are all places where users are working from a mobile device.

With the dominance of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices in society today, bring your own device (BYOD) is quickly making its way into companies all across the country. Unfortunately for BYOD enthusiasts, a recent study reveals that out-of-office workers are not as productive when they’re on the road.

The study, conducted by harmon.ie, a social software provider, surveyed 500 mobile U.S. mobile business users to help corporations identify pain points and work toward solutions for on-the-go computing. In addition to revealing that one in seven truly conducts business in public restrooms, harmon.ie’s survey found that technology gaps – specifically in enterprise collaboration tools – cause productivity losses and mistakes that are detrimental to business.

Seventy-seven percent of mobile workers finish documents, proposals or presentations while on the road, with more than half literally finalizing materials in the 11th hour. Nearly nine out of 10 of traveling executives and managers reported they cannot work effectively on collaborative projects while on the go, half of all respondents said they had difficulties getting input from colleagues in a timely manner, and 41 percent reported working off potentially out-of-date documents.

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed reported lower personal productivity, and 43 percent reported they often miss key information to complete a project. More than half of executives surveyed also admitted to being procrastinators: 54 percent said they finish projects on the road at least half the time, of which 72 percent complete documents up to an hour before a presentation.

“We live in an era of what we call BYOD (bring your own device), and with that comes the expectation that every important application and document will be available while walking around with an iPad or smartphone,” said Yaacov Cohen, CEO of harmon.ie. “The reality? Not so much. Executives and managers may have their cellphones or laptops at the ready, but their companies aren’t arming them with a seamless collaborative experience across all devices. Without the same information, tools and software on their mobile devices as they have on their desktop, people may be connected but really remain involuntarily out of touch.”

So how can we transition from procrastinating, out-of-touch mobile workers to effective, engaged and productive mobile workers? Here are some tips and resources for mobile workers and the companies managing them:

·         In addition to the usual advice about regular calls, emails, news bulleting and group chat rooms, Mashable offered five tips for successfully keeping remote workers in the loop. These tips include sharing informal news as well as company news, using the cloud and being hyper-aware of misinterpretation of the written word.

·         Workers may lose motivation to be productive once they leave the building simply because they have left the building. Google has developed a service that enables organizations to track the locations of mobile workers and to exchange text messages with them. Google Maps Coordinate consists of a web portal that shows the location of mobile workers and an app that feeds back the location data to the Web portal and allows the mobile worker and the administrator to exchange text messages.

Google senior product manager, Daniel Chu, said, "IDC estimates that by 2015 there will be over 1.3 billion mobile workers, more than one third of the total workforce. Yet many organizations we talk to are not fully leveraging the latest technology to co-ordinate these teams. They are trying to guess where there teams are even though that it critically important business information.”

·         Companies need to arm the mobile workers with the same information, tools and software they have on their desktop.

·         Mobile Device Management (MDM) apps. MDM software secures, monitors, manages and supports mobile devices deployed across mobile operators, service providers and enterprises. It can be a key component in making a BYOD environment work. Some of the top 10 MDM products on the market today include Sybase’s Afaria, AirWatch, MobileIron, and Symantec SMM.

Hopefully this information helps you improve as a mobile worker, or at least gives you something to keep in mind when managing your employees in a BYOD environment. And please, let’s all agree to try and reduce the use of mobile devices in public restrooms.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. For more information on registering for ITEXPO click here.

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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

TechZone360 Web Editor

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