Why organisations must embrace mobile working

Tube be, or not tube be - how will the strikes effect you?

With a fresh wave of tube strikes recently hitting the capital, many commuters have been busy checking TFL advice to see how their route will be affected.

Even on a day without service disruptions, the average time spent commuting is 54.6 minutes. It's risen by five minutes since 2003. That's 4.5 days a year spent getting to and from work.

But commuting isn't just costly in terms of time; here in the UK our public transport costs are among the highest in Europe. The average British worker spends £160 per month on their commute.

So what can we do? In an era where the average office worker spends eight percent of their time looking at a mobile screen, would it really be such a stretch to make remote working the norm? According to research by Deloitte, 30 to 40 percent of physical workspaces are vacant at any given moment on a regular business day, adding more evidence to the argument against office-based working.

Mobile world

It's true that there are some roles in the modern enterprise that require staff to be onsite, but the vast majority could be performed remotely. A survey of business across Europe found that flexible working makes employees 39 percent more productive, and 72 percent of them attributed this to key communications technology, including video conferencing.

Despite this, 60 percent of UK businesses are still not offering flexible working. Given that workers will be happier and more productive, why aren't more organisations offering this?

According to Matthew Ball, Prinicpal Analyst at Canalys, "'Based on current trends and changes in working culture, almost all information workers will have the option of remote working by 2022, with the main means of communication being social media and video conferencing via mobile devices."

A survey found that nearly one in five office workers would move away from urban areas if they could work remotely. Especially amongst the 'Millennial Generation', workplace flexibility and work-life balance are seen as more attractive than financial reward.

Offering these employees the chance to shorten or even eradicate their commute is more attractive than simply offering them high salaries. Generation Y are also more likely to stay in a job if they have greater flexibility over where and how much they work.

The tube strikes served to highlight the fact that the UK working population is crying out to be spared the daily commute. I feel lucky to work for an organisation where 100 percent of our employees are equipped with the technology to allow them to work remotely.

  • Tim Stone is vice president of marketing for Europe and EMEA at communications specialist Polycom.