06 Jun, 2008

Mobile Work is Decreasing According To UK Survey

According to an independent survey of more than 1000 UK office workers, mobile working is on the decline. With fears over jobs and the economy, more workers especially middle managers and below are shunning mobile working, preferring to be seen in the office regardless of whether that is the best location for them to work. Comparison research in 2007 shows that the percentage of firms claiming to offer some form of mobile working has dropped by 10% – from nearly 60% to just under 50%. Furthermore, 13% of UK office workers said that mobile working was actively discouraged and only 10% of workers in 2008 feel that they have the freedom to work remotely as part of their day to day job. The research, commissioned by Microsoft Windows Mobile, seeks to provide an overview of the mobility climate in British business as the nominations open for its 2008 People Moving Business Awards which honour best practice in mobile working by British employers and employees. The research, split between senior managers, middle managers and general employees, also showed that old-fashioned attitudes towards mobile working still exist. Despite an overwhelming belief that being able to work remotely helps employees do more with their day, senior managers are still three times more likely to be able to work remotely than other employees – reinforcing the belief that mobile working is still seen as a ‘senior perk’ rather than a true aide to productivity and employee satisfaction. It’s a depressing if unsurprising situation,” believes Microsoft mobility spokesperson James McCarthy. “Economic uncertainty is undoubtedly sapping business confidence. Senior managers seem reluctant to try new things while employees are perhaps understandably adopting a presenteeism mentality in case troubled times arrive. This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy given that mobile working is shown to help increase productivity, improve worker satisfaction and actively reduce costs, all the things a business needs during uncertain economic conditions.â According to the survey, 25% of senior managers say that they would leave their job within six months if they could not work remotely while one quarter of all UK businesses have lost staff as a result of not being able to offer mobile working opportunities. This brain drain puts pressure on colleagues to cover roles and introduces extra costs – for recruitment and training – at a time when companies are looking to save money. It’s not all bad news, despite the drop in mobile working across the UK, senior managers do not have any major concerns with the issue of employees working remotely. While standard of work was the main issue cited by managers when asked what risks they saw associated with making their workforce more mobile, more than 30% said that they saw no risks at all, suggesting that the issue of mobility is currently not a priority rather than being actively discouraged. However, the difference in perception of mobile working opportunities between managers and workers strongly suggests that many employees are adopting a jackets-on-seats approach regardless of their company’s official policy to mobile working. The economic conditions compared to this time last year are vastly different. With worries over rising fuel costs, falling house prices, the global credit crunch and a general worsening of market conditions, we shouldn’t be surprised that innovation in how we look at our working lives has taken a back seat. But the message is clear, with the challenges that lie ahead, British businesses should make mobility a priority rather than an afterthought.

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