I recently boarded a crowded train in suburban Sydney. Like many others I was relegated to the standing areas, the available seats long since taken. But I was still a few stops from my destination and it gave me an opportunity to survey the carriage.
Even after just a cursory look I was amazed to see the number of people working on laptops, smartphones and tablets. It occurred to me that mobile devices are replacing books and newspapers. I recall a time when people used their daily commute to catch up on the news, or read the latest bestseller. But today more people are using that time to catch up on emails, finish reports and plan their day at the office. I quickly found myself joining them, reaching for my smartphone to clear my inbox before arriving at work.
This transition is not surprising when you consider the stats. According to the AIMIA Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index, in 2014, 89% of Australians owned a smartphone, 60% owned a tablet. Meanwhile 58% of the global workforce now regularly works away from the office, and 57% of employees are accessing corporate data on a personal smartphone or tablet. We can no longer ignore the fact that Australia’s transition to mobile computing is changing the way we live our daily lives.
In today’s environment, our place of work is no longer the typical office. It’s the local cafe, airport lounge, hotel room, our very own homes, and apparently even moving train carriages. It’s evident that the mobile workforce has already arrived. For Australian businesses, the question is not so much about whether they should adopt a more mobile workforce, but more about exactly how they’re going to achieve it.
Embracing The Change
When considering a transition towards more mobile working, many organisations tend to be initially apprehensive. Mobile working does present important questions around accountability and productivity of staff, as well as document and network security. But mobile working is increasingly becoming the preferred working method of modern employees and the trend cannot be ignored.
Recent research conducted by Citrix revealed that a majority of workers who have never worked remotely (64%) identified at least one perk they’d be willing to give up to be able to do so just one day a week: lunch breaks (32%), alcohol (25%), or coffee (20%).
Stanford University also found that mobile and remote workers are 13% more productive than their office-based counterparts. The added flexibility of mobile working acts as an important enabler in allowing staff to work at times when it most convenient, when they are most productive and to work in locations when they would normally be disconnected from the office.
Not only is mobile working become the preferred working style of today’s workforce, they’re actually more productive because of it. Embracing this trend early and acting accordingly will be an important factor in staff attraction and retention for Australian organisations, as well as an important step towards creating more productive and profitable businesses.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Mobile Technology and Security
Many businesses are managing the demand for mobile working by allowing a mix of corporate-owned devices and BYOD. But with the sophistication of malware and the real threat of cyber-attacks on sensitive data, modern day IT teams have their work cut out for them in managing security on multiple operating systems and devices.
There are challenges that must be addressed, and will only be exacerbated by the continuing movement towards mobile working and the influx of Generation Y employees into the workforce.
Online security experts Symantec offer the following advice in managing mobile security:
- Enable devices to access key corporate assets, such as email and documents.
- Apply advanced security settings to ensure corporate compliance.
- Secure data in corporate apps, regardless of the device.
- Wrap a layer of security and policy management around any app.
- Distribute apps by user role from a customisable enterprise app store.
- Easily distribute and secure content to end-user mobile devices.
- Access files stored on the network or cloud with enterprise mobility tools, like Symantec Sealed apps.
Identity & Access Control
- Provide strong authentication and authorisation for access to enterprise applications and resources, using digital certificates or security credentials.
- Leverage authentication methods, such as LDAP and SAML, for single sign-on.
Responsive Printing Options
Despite modern technology, printing is still a key part of core business. In many workplaces contracts, HR forms, invoices, receipts and various paperwork must still be printed and filed in hard copy. Staff work across multiple locations and timezones, in between office floors and while commuting. There is an increasing need for printing technology to keep pace with the rise of mobile.
Wireless printing has become the modern solution, offering employees and casual mobile devices users the option to print from their mobile device through a wi-fi network.
Sales data reveals that businesses have recognised the need for a printing solution that matches the working preferences of its staff. The sales of Fuji Xerox wireless laser printers are expected to grow to 50% by the end of 2016, up from 2.9% in 2009 – a growth rate of more than 1600%.
That trend is set to continue. Research shows that 83% of workplaces are interested in developing mobile printing capability, yet only 14% of them have implemented wireless printing of some capacity in their office. Of those, 40% of office workers can connect their smartphones or tablets to the wi-fi in their offices, but only 29% can print from their mobile device.
Of those who can’t print from their mobile device, 41% wish that they could. Interestingly, over two thirds of those respondents were people aged 29 or younger. It means that a large section of Australia’s future workforce has a desire to access wireless printing while at work. It’s an important indicator that wireless will be a key player in the future of printing.