Growing mobile workforce relies on wireless connectivity, report finds
The emergence of bring your own device (BYOD), cloud computing and unified communications have been major contributors to the mobile workforce, enabling employees to remain connected to colleagues and mission-critical applications and data in and outside the office. However, a new study by iPass found the expanding remote workforce is changing how individuals operate.
The study illustrated that employees are now dependent on connectivity and have become more resourceful in their efforts to connect to the corporate network. The report found that 29 percent of survey respondents said they have hijacked an unsecured Wi-Fi connection to perform work-related tasks, while another 30 percent have traveled to find free Wi-Fi.
"Connectivity is like oxygen for today’s mobile workers. The improved ability to work anywhere as long as they are connected appears to be driving higher productivity," iPass chief executive officer Evan Kaplan said. "This reinforces the need for IT departments to provide services that ensure high quality, safe and affordable global connectivity for their employees."
The study also revealed that 88 percent of mobile workers think wireless connectivity is nearly as important as running water or electricity. Another 95 percent said productivity would be significantly reduced if they were not able to connect wirelessly.
This is largely because individuals are now working outside the office, a trend that is forecast to continue in the coming years, according to a separate IDC report.
"Despite recent market turmoil, mobility continues to be a critical part of the global workforce and we expect to see healthy growth in the number of mobile workers," IDC mobile enterprise senior research analyst Stacy Crook said. "Our forecast shows that the worldwide mobile worker population will increase from just over 1 billion in 2010 to more than 1.3 billion by 2015."
The study by iPass also found that the devices used by mobile workers are changing, especially during the emergence of BYOD. The report revealed that laptops are still the most common appliances used for video conferencing and web browsing, but tablets are becoming more popular for reading and video streaming. Apple's iPad in particular is growing in popularity, as more than one-quarter of mobile workers intend to purchase one within the next six months.
Companies that intend to support mobile workers should embrace the increasing tablet presence, as these are and will likely continue to be the consumer device of choice.