Feature

Have notebook, will work harder

A survey conducted by e-Mori for Toshiba reveals that mobile workers in the UK are working longer hours than their office counterparts, writes Karl Cushing

"This moves beyond a nine-to-five economy and has implications for both IT and HR managers," says Con Mallon, UK general marketing manager at Toshiba.

The survey found that although remote workers using mobile technology work longer hours, they feel more productive, motivated and less stressed than their office-based colleagues. "People might be working longer but these are better hours," says Mallon.

"What mobile working is doing is giving people the chance to create a work/life balance," he adds. "It gives you an element of control. A balance has to be struck by the individual."

And Mallon contends that mobility should not be restricted to high-fliers or senior management. It is a model that can be applied across the whole organisation.

He also points out that the UK is changing from an industrial to an information-based economy. IT directors, as well as employees, need help to adjust.

"IT directors want to know what best practice is so far - that is one of the reasons we wrote this report," explains Mallon.

According to Mallon, a key finding to emerge from the survey is that the notebook PC in the home is becoming commonplace. But the report concludes that investing in technology is not enough in itself.

"You have to take a holistic view. Simply dropping a notebook in a worker's lap and saying 'I expect better things from you' isn't enough. You must give them IT training, but they also need teaching in lifestyle management," Mallon says.

If you are going to give people laptops and notebooks and let them work out of the office, IT departments will also have to be more flexible, Mallon points out. Firms will need to create more flexible support desks to deal with remote workers. Even reward and recognition schemes need to be re-evaluated.

"There has to be trust in this," he stresses.

"The survey establishes a benchmark on what's been achieved so far. Progress has been made and directors need to know how they can use the findings to their benefit.

"We should be encouraging people to invest in technology. This kind of ownership is a phenomenon on the continent," says Mallon. "We are a little behind in the UK. I think there is an opportunity to be grasped."

But the office is not dead. "The office is still significant. We are social animals. The office just has to be redefined," he says.


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This was first published in March 2001

 

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