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Mobile workers erode work patterns

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A recent Aruba Networks survey has shown the a new breed called the #GenMobile employee is emerging. #GenMobile employees regard their mobile devices more important than their television sets and are more likely to do away with coffee than their smartphones. They also have a completely different outlook their work lives.

Aruba Networks has launched a report that explores a new breed of employee that is changing the workplace as we know it. The report, which surveyed 5,000+ respondents worldwide, including South Africa, reveals characteristics of the newly dubbed #GenMobile, a group of employees defined by their preference for mobility both in terms of the devices they use and their approach to work.

The majority of #GenMobile are in the early stages of their career and are so attached to their mobile devices that they are 15 times more likely to give up coffee and seven times more likely to say goodbye to their televisions than their beloved smartphones. They have a tendency for non-traditional work hours, demand flexible work locations over higher salaries and request reliable internet, asking for Wi-Fi versus 4G, 3G or wired connections.

Highlights from #GenMobile respondents in South Africa

· A new workday is emerging: Over five in ten (53%) believe they work most efficiently before 9am or after 6pm.

· Wi-Fi is becoming a preference: Nearly 42% prefer Wi-Fi at the expense of other connections (4G, 3G or wired), while 72% declare that their mobile devices help them to manage their lives.

· All things connected: 64% own three or more devices with the ability to connect to the internet. 61% selected their car when asked what connected technology they would most like to see in everyday use in the next five years.

¬∑ Money isn’t everything: Over half (64%) would prefer to work from home two to three days a week than receive a 10% higher salary and 45% would rather have their employer pay for the smartphone of their choice than a 5% higher salary.

· Tech at work is essential: 57% would rather be able to bring their own device to work than have an office with a window, and 73% would rather their company paid for their choice of device than provided them with lunch.

· Mobile at every pause: 67% expect their number of remote work hours to increase in the next twelve months.

The report reveals that, rather than acting as an aide to the workday, #GenMobile are shaping their working lives around their mobile devices. With the ability to work effectively any time, any place and on any device, they expect employers to make the policy and structural changes necessary to enable their preferred form of working.

‚”We’ve seen flexible working and always-on connectivity growing for some time, but this report shows that it’s now become a way of life for those in the modern workforce,‚” said Matthew Barker, Regional Manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Aruba Networks. ‚”What this report suggests is that #GenMobile won’t have patience with companies who do not accommodate their mobile lives or frustrations with traffic across South Africa’s urban road network. In order to attract and keep the best employees, businesses need to start looking for solutions to ensure levels of productivity and trust in this emerging working world. Ultimately, many will have to totally redefine traditional work environments.‚”

How to spot #GenMobile

The typical #GenMobile abides by the ‚’anywhere, anytime’ principles of flexible working, where office hours are no longer constrained to the traditional workday.

Aruba Networks believes that understanding and catering to #GenMobile’s needs can be the key to a productive workforce, while also ensuring companies are in a competitive position. For example #GenMobile are more likely than other groups to access mobile apps such as Facebook and Twitter. But they are also 20% more likely to access and respond to work emails on their mobile device. For #GenMobile, mobile is second nature to both a work and personal life.

However, there remains space for human interaction in the life of a #GenMobile. Nearly two thirds of the South African respondents (63%) indicated that they still value the time when they can disconnect their devices, suggesting that companies must be able to provide effective downtime when it is needed.

Alongside the demand for increased mobility, the report calls for companies to take heed of #GenMobile associated technology requirements.

‚”Making the necessary workplace changes needs to be supplemented with solid technology choices: employers will only succeed in motivating #GenMobile workers if they have the security and connections available to facilitate this shift,‚” added Barker.

Regional findings:

The increasing demand for flexible work styles is best illustrated in the US, where 79% of respondents declared that they feel most efficient when working at home.

Respondents in the UK are also above average in this regard, with 72% stating that the home office is where they can be most productive.

The blend between work and personal device usage is best illustrated in South Africa, where 54% of respondents use their smartphone or tablet to check work emails and 46% use the same device to carry out mobile shopping.

The importance of personal devices for work is best illustrated in Germany, where 83% of respondents reported using their smartphone or tablet to check their emails.

In Sweden, 76% of respondents reported using their personal device for banking, illustrating how central mobile products have now become to fulfill an activity that was previously carried out in person.

The importance of personal devices to everyday life is best illustrated in France, where 62% of respondents declared that the devices make it easier for them to manage their personal and professional lives.

The purchasing of new, connected devices has shown strong recent growth in Spain, where 63% have acquired a smartphone in the past year. Over a quarter of the respondents here (27%) already own a tablet.

Finally in the Middle East, the ownership of mobile products in general is higher than any other region 84% of respondents in the UAE own three or more connected devices (82% in Saudi Arabia), and they also display the highest ownership of tablets in the survey (42% in UAE, 31% in Saudi Arabia).

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