Once out of the office many employees are flouting security policies designed to protect corporate applications and data, creating significant "hidden" costs for their employers.
Research commissioned by Vodafone among 1,116 UK employees has revealed that many are engaging in online activities whilst mobile, that they would not consider when in the office.
These include visiting adult, gambling, social networking and dating sites, watching online video and TV and downloading and installing additional software.
For instance, nearly 7% of mobile workers (10% of male mobile workers) admit to visiting adult sites using their company laptop or mobile device whilst out of the office. This contrasts to 3.8% accessing these sites from a computer in the office.
Nearly one-in-five (19%) download music, 10% visited gambling sites, and nearly 15% downloaded software without prior authorisation whilst away from the office.
These results show "significant shortcomings in the enforcement of IT policies for mobile workers", said Vodafone.
Risky behaviours by employees working away from the office not only expose corporate networks to potential threats from the viruses and malware commonly found on "less respectable sites, but also to unforeseen costs," said Vodafone.
Vodafone said downloading software can change settings and cause company equipment to fail, or disrupt other systems leading to higher support costs. There may also be legal issues resulting from inappropriate content or unlicensed software resident on company hard drives.
Curt Hopkins, head of enterprise mobility solutions at Vodafone UK, said, "Mobile workers may be accessing a video or music file over a hotel Wi-Fi or 3G network whilst on a business trip. The cost of these downloads are not anticipated and may not be included in corporate price plans. The cost may be hidden in personal expenses making it very difficult to manage."
The Vodafone Secure Remote Access managed service enforces IT policies for flexible workforces and can limit users to pre-authorised networks.