Greater mobility is associated with higher productivity, according to a Cisco-sponsored survey published today by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Those who are away from their desks most of the time say they're more productive than their stationary colleagues.
But while mobility looks to be the future - only 11 percent of respondents said they will spend more time at their desk two years from now - the survey found that many are troubled by the impact mobile technologies are having on their lives. Three-quarters said the blurring of personal and work time was a key negative aspect of mobile technologies, commenting that they felt "on call" 24 hours a day, had less "thinking time" and had "nowhere to hide".
Twenty-six percent said more access to corporate communications would increase their daily work hours, with one respondent commenting: "It would increase stress and make life more difficult... total accessibility is not conducive to good decision-making." Another 20 percent said more access would reduce their work hours.
Despite such problems, 73 percent admitted that access to mobile tools in places where they currently have little or no access - in the bath, perhaps? - would increase their efficiency and reduce response time to problems.
Working away from their primary work space (almost always an office desk) doesn't in itself make workers more productive - 66 percent said they felt "very productive" at their desk, compared with 36 percent who felt that way working from home, and only 15 percent feeling the same when working elsewhere in their own companies, at other company locations and at supplier sites. The least productive locations were during the daily commute, at a neighbourhood cafe or on a business trip.
Instead, the flexibility to work in various locations seems to be a productivity boost: those who spend more than half of their working time away from their office desk said they were more productive than those who were more stationary. The survey also found that the quarter of respondents who were "very satisfied" with their companies' provisions for mobile working reported higher levels of productivity.
However ambivalent workers might feel about mobile working, most expect it will become a more important part of their jobs. Thirty-nine percent expected to telecommute more from home two years from now, and 42 percent expected to work more while travelling on business.
The survey covered 1,500 respondents over the summer, with 45 percent from western and eastern Europe, 26 percent from the Americas and 22 percent from the Asia and Australasia area. The respondents were mainly from the IT, telecoms, finance, healthcare and biotech industries, with the largest group between 35 and 44. Nearly a third were executives from large enterprises, with 19 percent being CEOs, presidents or managing directors.