Work: cry freedom

May 12 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Work is increasingly viewed as something that you do rather than a place that you go to as technology makes traditional office hours irrelevant.

A study of more than 600 executives in Europe and the Middle East carried out for Intel found that the three-quarters believe the nine-to-five-routine is no longer relevant and that they are as productive working outside the office as they are in it.

Almost seven out of ten said that they were more or as productive working outside the office as in it, while almost three-quarters claimed to be as comfortable working remotely as at the office.

Six out of ten executives say that they already work as part of a ‘virtual team’, while more than a third say their main contacts at work are with other remote colleagues.

And with over three quarters of respondents already travelling regularly on business, the recent accession of the new EU member states was cited as a key driver of mobile working, prompted by the need to secure new opportunities created by enlargement.

The reasons for the changing nature of work is the relationship between mobile technology and a more blurred working day.

The Intel survey found that the average working day is getting longer and less office-bound. Executives said they spent up to a third of each day out of the office and expect this time to increase in future.

This flexibility has been made possible thanks to the widespread adoption of mobile technology. More than eight out of ten respondents said they now use a laptop, with all bar a tiny minority saying that they will be getting a laptop during the next year.

Executives are also happier to be mobile because of the emergence of ‘wireless hotspots’ that mean they can still be online. More than a quarter of those surveyed currently exploit this technology and almost half anticipate using hotspots in the next two years.

According to Intel’s Mike Bonello, one of the major new challenges posed by increasing mobility is how best to manage an increasingly fragmented workforce that is no longer tied to a single office location.

Andrew Palmer of the Economist Intelligence Unit, which carried out the survey, added: "The findings reflect a trend to more autonomous working dictated by the increasing need to work across time zones and geographies. In the coming years, we are likely to see even more changes to working habits as companies move towards a more decentralised and flexible work force."