Almost half of the businesses in the European Union (EU) have provided employees with a portable device to give them the opportunity to work remotely.
This was the main finding of a new study from Eurostat – the EU’s statistical office – which claimed 48% of companies across the EU’s 27 member states had embraced this approach.
While the main device on offer was a laptop for 40% of the businesses, 39% of companies said they were providing smartphones or tablets to workers.
Finland showed the most commitment to providing staff with mobile devices, with 78% of Finnish enterprises offering portable devices for remote working. It also had the highest figure for handing out smartphones or tablets – done so by 68% of Finnish businesses.
The UK was less impressive, coming sixth in the league table with 56% of firms handing out devices. However, unlike Finland, British companies favoured smartphone and tablet deployments over laptops, with 52% choosing to give these to employees, compared to 45% who went down the more traditional route with laptop provision.
The main purpose for the devices was to check work email – cited by 88% of respondents across all EU countries as a key function and 96% of UK businesses. The second most common use was accessing the internet – 86% for the EU, 88% for the UK.
However, there was a large drop when it came to more business-sensitive data. Just 56% of firms in the EU wanted employees to use the portable devices to access or modify documents, rising to 62% in the UK specifically; and just 45% gave them out so workers could use dedicated business applications on them, falling to 40% in the UK.
Large businesses were the most likely to give out devices to employees, with the EU average saying 88% had such schemes, as well as 93% of UK firms. Small businesses were still more hesitant to do so though, with 43% of the companies across the EU handing out devices, although this rose to 51% of smaller companies in the UK.