24-Hour Shift: Mobile Employees Work Around the Clock

Flexible schedules lead to longer work weeks, more control over work/life balance

By SHRM Online staff Aug 26, 2011

According to a new report, 38 percent of employees equipped with mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops work before their commute, 25 percent work during their commute, 37 percent work during lunch, 33 percent work after their commute home and 26 percent work after dinner—every day.

The Mobile Workforce Report by iPass Inc., a provider of corporate mobility services, drew from the experiences of more than 3,100 mobile employees at 1,100 enterprises worldwide, surveyed in the first half of July 2011. It revealed that 75 percent of mobile employees work more hours because of work shifting—flexible work schedules that enable employees to work wherever and whenever they want. In addition, more than half (55 percent) were working at least 10 or more additional hours each week as a result of their more flexible schedules, and 12 percent were working 20 or more additional hours.

Overwhelmingly, mobile workers reported that work shifting allows them to be more productive and efficient, with 79 percent reporting increased productivity and 78 percent reporting increased efficiency, according to the report.

Work/Life Balancing Act

Significantly—and somewhat surprisingly—64 percent of mobile workers reported improved work/life balance. More than half (51 percent) felt more relaxed because of flexible work.

“Even though mobile workers are putting in more hours, we are starting to see the pendulum swing back to the center on disconnecting, with 68 percent of mobile workers disengaging from technology occasionally to spend time with their families,” said Barbara Nelson, chief technology officer at iPass. “It appears that the mobile workforce is getting a better hold on their work/life balance.”

How strongly do mobile employees feel about work shifting? If they do not get enough flexibility at work, 33 percent said, they would seek employment elsewhere, 57 percent would be less satisfied with their job and 45 percent would feel less productive.

Redefining Vacation

When it comes to working while on vacation:

97 percent of mobile workers stay connected to technology during vacation (up from 93 percent in 2010). Nearly all (94 percent) did so at least partly for work.

On vacation, 69 percent checked into work at least daily, while 93 percent checked in at least weekly and 41 percent checked in multiple times per day.

52 percent connected during vacation to make sure they didn’t fall behind on work or weren’t overwhelmed on return to work or to ensure completion of a work project.

Additional Findings

Among other highlights, the survey uncovered that:

47 percent of mobile employees work from home daily, and 99 percent at least occasionally.

88 percent of mobile workers report working from the road—84 percent from a coffee shop, and 77 percent outside using a city-mesh Wi-Fi at least on an occasional basis.

40 percent would like a more flexible work environment, even with 95 percent of employees stating that their employers currently encourage or tolerate work shifting.

Related Articles:

Survey: Telecommuters Are Happier and Healthier, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, July 2011

Remote Talent Serves Up Big Opportunities, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, March 2011

Mobile Workforce Management, HR Magazine, March 2011

Quick Links:

SHRM Online Benefits Discipline

SHRM Online Workplace Flexibility Resource Page

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