A new global study, ‘Mobility, Performance and Engagement’ by the Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU) has established a measurable link between ‘more mobile-first’ working environments, and an increase in employee engagement, proving that CIOs can drive increased business performance through well developed and executed mobile strategies.
The study, sponsored by Wi-Fi solutions provider Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, showed that companies rated by employees as ‘pioneers’ in how they support mobile technology, saw a rise in productivity (16%), creativity (18%), satisfaction (23%), and loyalty (21%), when compared with organisations that were poorly rated at supporting mobile technology.
“Today, most companies and employees understand that a mobile-first approach can be good for business, but if you can tell a CEO of a Fortune 500 business that their organisation can achieve a 16% increase in employee output, or HR directors that they can increase loyalty by over one-in-five, we believe they would make mobility an even greater investment priority,” said Chris Kozup, VP of marketing at Aruba.
“While past studies have recognized increased mobility’s impact on employee engagement, establishing the business outcome has been a missing link – this report quantifies it,” he added.
This survey of 1,865 employees globally demonstrated that many workers recognize the benefits of mobile-optimised work environments. In fact, six in ten (60%) employees said mobile technology makes them more productive, while another four in ten (45%) acknowledge it causes their creativity to rise. It also shows that most employees now have access to mobile devices, like laptops and smartphones, in the workplace.
The EIU’s analysis looked to define how this wide adoption of mobile technology was impacting business outcomes by defining the key dimensions of a mobile-first employee experience, then demonstrating how each dimension contributes toward business performance. A number of key trends stood out:
Working anytime, anywhere
• The ability to work anytime, anywhere is seen as having the single-biggest impact on employee productivity, with 49% of respondents saying it has the greatest impact on their productivity.
• Additionally, 38% of respondents identify this as having the greatest impact on how satisfied they are with their employer.
“Think about downtime at the airport or on the train – there’s not much dead time now,” said Kevin Melton, sales and marketing director at medical insurance provider AXA PPP International. “You always have access to an iPad, and especially in Asia, to Wi-Fi.”
The ability to collaborate
• Globally, the ability to collaborate effectively is rated the most important factor affecting creativity (38%), another third of respondents said it has the greatest impact on their loyalty.
• To help foster better collaboration, 42% of companies are now using digital collaboration tools that work on mobile – a figure that rises to 56% in the UK. Mobile messaging apps, such as Whatsapp, are also used for work by 31% of organisations, peaking at 66% in Singapore.
“The opportunity and the challenge here is to marry employee demands for remote working with team collaboration,” Kozup said. “The rise in mobile collaboration tools presents new ways for businesses to keep teams together and working effectively, even if they are physically apart. What’s clear is that companies who are able to do this are in a better place to attract, and retain, the best employees.”
Access to mobile information
• Some 42% of employees say that the ability to access information quickly and easily has the greatest impact on their productivity levels.
• Currently 54% of companies are now providing access to the company network from any mobile device in order to support working anywhere in the office or remotely.
• For 32% of employees, being able to work anywhere within the office has the biggest contributing factor to their creativity, meaning a company can potentially gain more creative output just by offering some choice. A further 29% declare that workplace flexibility makes the biggest difference to their loyalty.
• To foster this freedom, the report finds that 46% of companies are now offering a hot-desking environment with mobile connectivity at any location, showcasing that more collaborative work environments are on the rise. The UK offers the highest level of hot-desking (54%) followed by Australia and Germany (both 53%).
"Work has to happen on people's own terms," said Holger Reisinger, senior vice president, and head of the New Ways of Working Initiative at audio technology company Jabra. "We need to offer as diverse a choice as possible. You want it to be personal; to be more productive. The more you try to control that, the more you risk people being turned off work."
Mobile is not just for millennials
Within the EIU study, a respondent’s age was not found to be a factor of how mobile technology impacts their performance and engagement. In fact, it dispels the popular notion that mobile working is the domain of the younger generation, making it even more critical for organizations to place mobile technology as a top priority.
The distinctions were made between respondents who consider themselves early adopters of technology – who Aruba defines as #GenMobile – and those who consider themselves as laggards.
Early adopters are significantly more likely to report that mobile technology makes them more productive (72% of this group agree with this statement, compared to 50% of laggards), more satisfied (59% versus 48%), more creative (52% versus 40%), and more loyal to their employer (44% versus 31%).
However, #GenMobile is also more demanding. Four out of ten say they would never work for a company that did not allow them to use their own mobile devices for work, compared to 22% of all employees.
Kozup commented: “This reaffirms that #GenMobile employees are an ageless demographic who are better described by their reliance and affinity to mobile devices, rather than the year they were born.
“Not only are early adopters more valuable employees, the views they hold today may well become the majority view in future as mobile technology becomes more widespread. CIOs would therefore be well advised to take note of and address their concerns.”
Pete Swabey, senior editor at Economist Intelligent Unit concluded: “This report proves that CIOs have the opportunity to use their mobile technology strategies to influence the employee experience – and therefore the productivity, creativity, loyalty, and satisfaction of their workers.
“This is a departure from the usual target outcomes of efficiency and cost optimisation, and allows IT to make a more meaningful contribution, both to the strategic ambitions of the organization and to the lives of its workers”.
To guide CIOs on how to think about mobile-first working in ways that can positively impact revenue, Aruba has developed a CIO blueprint for creating profitable mobile environments. To find out more go to: http://www.arubanetworks.com/GenMobile2016/