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Never leaving the office may once have been the hallmark of dedication, but today’s workforce is getting smarter. Enterprises are embracing mobile technologies to support flexible workforces. The following article explores why this is good for the worker, good for the environment and good for the pocket.

Productive teams need instant access to information and seamless communication with colleagues and customers. Provide these elements effectively and the logistics of whether a worker is in the office, at home or on the move become academic.

Smart mobile technologies are creating a better quality of life for employees and strategic benefits for business. A recent report by Vodafone and the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)1 revealed enterprises could profit from an estimated five additional hours of employee time per week from simple measures such as enabling employees to commute outside of peak times.

The New Zealand Police force has already increased employee productivity by 30 minutes per shift, equivalent to 520,000 hours a year, simply by supplying staff with mobile and tablet devices. These provide access to information on suspects, vehicles and locations while out in the field2, freeing up the police force to spend more time supporting its community and less time on admin.

It pays to be smart

By reclaiming more than half a million hours of employee time the New Zealand Police expects to save well over £70 million in productivity. It isn’t just time businesses stand to gain. A 2013 YouGov poll estimates that businesses in the UK alone could save around £34 billion by freeing up desk space as a result of more flexible working practices3. According to the poll decision makers estimate an average of 46 desks could be freed up through more flexible working practices – and with the average UK desk costing £5,7464 that’s not small change.

When enterprises have the vision to see past the four walls of the office, flexible working practices such as shared workspaces, flexi-desks and agile employees can provide savings on property and fixed desk costs at the same time as actually improving collaboration and building a sense of community in the workplace. For many businesses, not all desks will be occupied at any one time, meaning automatically assigning a desk to each employee is not necessary. Hot-desking is a great alternative. This enables employees who are in the office to simply pick any free desk to work from and is also a great way of encouraging more dynamic and varied team collaboration.

Smart means sustainable

A survey of more than 17,000 senior business people in 80 countries, revealed that 60% saw flexible working as not only more cost-efficient but environmentally sustainable as well5. Simply reducing the office-based headcount will not only free up desk space, but buildings to maintain, office supplies to provide and commutes to be made to and from the office. All of which can help to reduce carbon emissions.

Vodafone itself achieved carbon reductions of 617 tonnes of CO2 over the last five years thanks to more flexible working practices, with an estimated 25% reduction in carbon emissions in the Netherlands thanks to reduced employee commuting6.

Profitability might still be the bottom line for business enterprise, but organisations that have already embraced enterprise mobility are quickly realising this need not be at the expense of the workforce or the environment.

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