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Rapid developments in business communications and changing workforce expectations may render the conventional office-based business model obsolete – and it could happen sooner than you think.

Here are four key imperatives driving the mobile working movement.

1. Your employees are already doing it.

Research suggests that smartphone sales could double to nearly one billion by 2015. In tandem, super-fast mobile broadband is on its way. Today, there are 40 Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks in 24 countries. In the next three years, that’s expected to leap to more than 200 networks covering 70 countries.

The ubiquity of smart devices coupled with high-speed broadband means employees will be able to access their desktop via any device, anywhere, at any time. Employees are already tapping into this fast-changing technology. Businesses that choose to ignore this fact do so at their own risk.

2. Mobile workers are happier, more productive workers.

Mobile flexible working improves employee satisfaction – for one Vodafone client, introducing a workplace BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy saw staff satisfaction jump nearly 30 per cent.

Mobile working also boosts productivity, allowing staff to focus on the work itself, rather than where they’re doing it. One leading international telecoms business, for example, reported a 20 per cent increase in output from its remote workers.

3. New technology is making mobile working easier and faster.

The cloud market is booming, with year-on-year growth exceeding 25 per cent. By 2015, it’s expected that the cloud – put simply, web-based computing – will be dominant in the shift to mobile working. More than three-quarters of Vodafone Global Enterprise customers are already moving in this direction.

Cloud services offer everything from collaboration and productivity tools to customer relationship management, data storage and security applications. The cloud is also transforming communications – Vodafone customers are already benefiting from its managed services outsourcing offer.

The attractions are clear: cloud services are globally accessible, scalable and secure. Disaster recovery is also a driver – typically four times faster with cloud-based services.

Cloud computing improves cash flow too, offering pay-per-use transparency and per-seat user charging, with none of the traditional deployment and maintenance costs.

4. Mobile costs won’t cost as much in future.

Developments over the next three years – including the shift to harmonised European roaming rates, backed by Vodafone – are likely to transform the billing landscape.

First, payment models are set to change. Billing is likely to shift to metered data usage, with packages fine-tuned to the needs of individual users.

Next, enhanced visibility tools – such as Vodafone Telecoms Management – will help eliminate bill shock with end-users taking greater responsibility for staying within billing limits.

Through it all, the impetus for mobility will continue to be driven by consumerisation: the grassroots adoption of new technology. That is something businesses can not ignore.

With the right partner providing support and helping to create a more unified and collaborative communications environment, businesses prepared to listen to and learn from their employees will have a lot to gain.