Mobile Workforce Offers Challenges, Opportunities for Businesses

The Softchoice study found 70 percent of respondents would leave their job for one that offers more workday flexibility.

softchoice and mobility

Employees want more freedom over where and when they work and they're willing to quit to get it, according to a survey of 1,700 North American full-time employees by managed services provider Softchoice.

The study found that 78 percent of employees highly value the ability to access work from outside the office, and 70 percent would leave their job for one that offers more workday flexibility, including the ability to work remotely more often.

"Technology plays a huge role in supporting flexible work environments. A key element to promoting a more flexible and mobile workforce is making it easy for employees to securely access work data wherever they are, whether they're at their desk or in a meeting room, at home or in a coffee shop," Francis Li, vice president of information technology at Softchoice, told eWEEK. "Whether employers supply their employees with a device—like a laptop or smartphone—or they want to access work data from their own device, businesses must be agile enough to accommodate that."

Li explained that once you've created that agility and seamless transition from office to home to anywhere, it opens the door for employees to take more control over where and when they work.

The study also found that 55 percent of employees have more flexible work hours than they did two to three years ago. In addition, 75 percent of employees said they're able to keep more family, social and personal commitments because they can remotely access work anytime they need.

In addition, 62 percent of employees believe they're more productive working outside the office and 61 percent of employees prefer working the equivalent of an eight-hour workday broken up over a longer day, rather than in a single 9-to-5 block.

However, 57 percent of employees said they work remotely on personal or sick days, and 44 percent of employees worked on their last vacation, indicating perhaps technology is making employees a bit too accessible.

The study also indicated most organizations are enabling a mobile workforce, but not governing one—59 percent of employees receive a device from their employer for work in and out the office, however, just 24 percent of organizations have set clear policies and expectations around appropriate work activities after business hours.

"When it comes to flexible work arrangements and working remotely—in an age when it's so easy to work anytime, anywhere—all businesses must set clear expectations around what is acceptable both during and after normal business hours," Li said. "Businesses need to realize, that providing the technology is only one piece of the flexibility puzzle. If organizations want to have a successful mobile workforce, they need to create comprehensive, well-communicated policies that outline expectations for remote and off-hours work. "