Over 50 percent of mobile workers surveyed said it would be easier to go without a car for a week than relinquish Internet access. And a majority in the same survey said they don’t mind kicking in a few extra work hours for the freedom and increased productivity that mobile computing provides.
These and other results of a survey focused on how workers view mobile computing tools such as laptops and smartphones, were released this week. Of those polled by Kelton Research, 84 percent of workers said the top advantage to working remotely is being productive during travel time. The study, commissioned by Fiberlink Communications, a mobility platform provider, also states that 80 percent enjoy the freedom that comes in a telecommuting work environment.
The Fiberlink study queried 300 employees at companies with 500 or more employees who work remotely using mobile computing devices. Three out of four said the biggest benefit of working remotely is a flexible work schedule with nine out of 10 reporting a better work-life balance as a result.
“Employers benefit as well,” Charles Oliva, director of marketing at Fiberlink Communications, told InternetNews.com. “Not only are employees happy and more content, two in five are actually putting in more hours each week,” he said.
Not only are those additional man hours a benefit for companies, but the ability to provide telecommuting options can drive greater operational efficiencies which are likely needed more than ever given the current US economic environment.
The study reports that 71 percent of workers save time commuting and 69 percent have been able to reduce transportation costs — not bad perks given the increasing price of fuel. Increasing use of live video stream and virtual meetings saves travel time and money for both companies and employees. Three quarters, 74 percent of mobile workers, said they attend few meetings in person thanks to video conferencing capabilities.
Companies are clearly on the mobile work bandwagon with two out of three employees, 67 percent, reporting they were provided with either laptops or BlackBerry smartphones. The biggest user population is the young mobile workforce as 79 percent of 18 to 39-year olds use mobile computing tools while just 55 percent of those 40 or older use mobile devices.
About three quarters (74 percent) of workers surveyed said they can’t do their job without access to Internet or the corporate network file server. Nearly four in five (77 percent), can’t get their job done without documents housed on a laptop and more than half (55 percent), said the data they use daily is pulled from a laptop.
IT management headaches
Yet all that connectivity could pose some IT management headaches if good security and best practices aren’t put in place, according to Fiberlink’s survey.
Remote workers admit to risky online behavior and insecure data practices with 24 percent altering security settings and 23 percent delaying security updates on devices. Even more, 43 percent, have download personal photos and videos and 31 percent cop to downloading software for personal use. About one quarter, 25 percent, admit to clicking on blacklisted or banned Web sites on company devices.
But the intent of such behavior, according to Fiberlink’s survey, isn’t malicious in nature.
“Managing [mobile] users has its challenges but the employees aren’t intentionally malicious,” said Oliva. The survey, he noted, states that 70 percent would rather get their work done on a secure network connection even if it meant the assignment would be late.
“The problem is that saving data to a USB, downloading e-mail attachments from a personal e-mail account, downloading software from peer to peer sites, and other actions of this kind, makes them vulnerable — to loss of company data, to malware and attacks from hackers,” said Oliva.