IT analyst Gartner, predicted at the end of last year that: "The notion of the office as a fixed location [will] give way to a situation where 'office' is just the act of paying attention to work through always-on access." But it seems that it might have been jumping the gun as a more recent study reveals that most companies don't trust their staff to work on the move.
The research, carried out by business and IT consultant LogicaCMG, found that 45 percent of the respondents to its survey of HR managers across Europe were concerned about employees' self discipline while out of the office. This fear stemmed from the fact that just under half (46 percent) had no way of monitoring mobile workers.
Of those companies that do allow mobile working, most rely on old-fashioned monitoring methods like logging calls and internet use or requiring a written report. The study revealed that while firms trained staff how to use the technology that enables them to work on the move, only 20 percent of training covered effective communication techniques and 16 percent taught staff time management.
But by neglecting to support mobile working, firms are missing out on maximising their staff resources says Paul Barker from LogicaCMG. "There is an irrational suspicion that if employees are out of the office they're dodging work. However, people do need to travel and the irony is that by depriving [them] of the tools they need to work on the move employers are failing to get the best out of their executives," he explains.
Barker believes companies have to shift themselves into the 21st Century, exploiting the use of PDAs, smartphones and always-on network connectivity to make Gartner's prediction come true, or else risk missing out on the chance to "improve business process efficiency, reduce … costs and increase revenues".