The traditional boundaries that existed between life and work have been redrawn forever, primarily due to the ‘consumerisation of IT’ trend, but also the flexibility this has afforded business and employees alike. Emails no longer pile up, IM’s are answered in seconds and applications are being optimised for mobile users on the go, writes Pieter Engelbrecht, business unit manager at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.
What’s less established is the extent of mobility’s benefits on businesses of today. At Aruba we’re often asked questions seeking to quantify these improvements: How much more productive is my workforce? What’s the impact of mobility on hiring and retention? Are mobility benefits distributed equally across workers of all ages?
This is why we recently conducted a global workforce mobility study with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). It provided actionable insights into the benefits of investing in mobile-optimisation technologies that improve employee engagement and drive business outcomes.

GenMobile is an ageless demographic
First, the study debunked the common misconception that Millennials benefit the most by being mobility-enabled. It’s simply not true.
Instead, the research shows workers across the age spectrum – from 18 to 65 – have exceptionally similar perspectives around the importance of mobility and mobile-optimised workplaces.
Among the findings: 100% of employees own a smartphone, use an employer-issued smartphone or both.
In other words, all employees are now GenMobile, which is an ageless demographic best described by an affinity for mobile devices rather than birth year.
For decision-makers considering which technologies impact their business, the implications of this GenMobile finding can’t be overstated. Every employee is mobility-enabled, and whether or not a business take advantage of this has a direct impact on business performance.
Clearly, these findings indicate that optimizing workplace mobility is now a strategic imperative for corporate success.

Mobile-optimised goes beyond WiFi
Next, it’s critical to understand that optimising workplace mobility goes beyond providing a high-performance Wi-Fi. It’s about taking the tools that empower the creative and collaborative spirit found everywhere on university campuses, which is a fundamental requirement for any enterprise to be innovative, and making them widely available at your organisation.
For example, our study showed leading-edge mobilisers are twice as good at delivering work flexibility and collaboration tools, such as Skype for Business, which allow for seamlessly turning a hallway conversation into a productive group activity.
They are also three times better at supporting anywhere, anytime workspace designs, like hot desking. Such workspaces provide employees with options to interact with whoever is appropriate on a given day or for a given project.
Mobile-optimised companies demonstrate other competitive advantages, some of which include:
* 1,5-times better at work/life balance.
* 2,5-times better at fostering innovation and creativity.
* More than twice as good at getting the most from their employees.

Recovering 320 hours, per person, annually
So what does the survey say about the productivity gains companies can expect from a robust mobile environment? Quite a lot.
At mobility-optimised companies, projects that typically take an individual eight hours to complete are done in about seven. That’s a net gain of approximately an hour per person, or 16%, regardless of organisation size, type or region.
To put this in perspective, 16% of productivity regained per eight-hour workday adds up to about 320 hours per year, taking standard holidays into consideration. That’s like realising over eight extra weeks of output, per employee.
At scale, this benefit is tremendous. For a global organisation with 10 000 employees, that’s 3,2-million hours of productivity recovered annually, or 80 000 weeks.

Effects on attracting and retaining top talent
Beyond productivity, when we speak to employers we commonly hear about the importance of attracting and retaining the right talent to drive innovation. In primary markets, competition is particularly fierce. Some businesses tell us they chronically struggle to compete for the best employees.
Insights from our study show why. Overall, companies at the mobility forefront are three times better at attracting workers. They also enjoy higher retention rates, reporting 21% greater employee loyalty.
From an employee perspective, a quarter of all workers (25%) say robust mobility is the primary factor for accepting a job. Regionally, the impact can be even higher. For instance, over a third of employees say mobility is their top decision-making factor in in Germany (36%) and Japan (38%).
This means engaging the best talent requires optimising mobility. Equally, limiting mobility means constraining – or even alienating – existing workers.

The bottom line
Despite the emphasis on creating “mobile-first” workplaces, our research suggests only about 11 percent of all companies are mobile-optimised. In contrast 50% of organisations were judged to be behind the curve in mobility.
For mobility leaders, this means ongoing investments are needed to stay ahead of the pack. Adopting new innovations and maximising existing systems are equally important.
All other companies stand to gain considerable advantage by changing approach. With careful and strategic mobility-enhancing investments, there lies great opportunities to improve market position relative to competitors.