Survey shows mobility is mainstream at work

Most workers would take lower pay to telecommute, use own gear on the job

Two-thirds of workers said they would take a 10% lower salary at their next job in return for being able to telecommute and use their personal wireless gear to do their jobs.

That finding is based on an online survey of 1,303 users from 13 countries, including 100 people in the U.S. The survey, conducted by InsightExpress, was commissioned by Cisco Systems, one of the largest vendors of wireless network products. In addition to the 1,303 users who responded, the survey also queried 1,309 IT decision-makers.

All respondents were 22 years or older.

Spain topped the list for having the most respondents (78%) who said they would take less money in exchange for more workplace technology flexibility.

However, U.S. residents who answered the "salary vs. mobility" question were more evenly split. While 52% would take the lower pay for more tech flexibility, 48% said salary was more important than workplace technology.

The survey also found that 60% of workers believe it is unnecessary to be in the office to be productive. That sentiment was much more prevalent in China, India and Brazil -- countries where workers tend to be younger -- than in the U.S. and Japan.

The survey also found that 66% of workers expect IT shops to allow them to use any mobile device -- whether personal or company-issued -- to access corporate networks, applications and information from any place at any time.

In general, the study confirmed impressions held by many wireless vendors and users, said Chris Kozup, director of mobility marketing at Cisco. "Work is no longer a place," he said, indicating that workers place value on the ability to answer e-mails or look at spreadsheets from home or while riding in a car, waiting for a plane or attending a conference.

Kozup said the findings would be valuable for enterprises that must adapt, especially, to young workers who enter new jobs and expect to have wireless network support (both Wi-Fi and cellular) for a range of devices.

"The U.S. is relatively behind other countries on our perceptions of the separation between work and play," he said. "Brazil and China draw less of a line.... The emerging market countries perceive wireless as more critical. The developed cultures are often the laggards in the value of wireless."

Kozup said one of the biggest surprises was the high number of people who said they would take a salary cut to gain access to more mobile and wireless technology in the workplace.

The actual question that was asked in the survey only generally raised telecommuting and access to personal devices at work as the technology alternatives to better pay. Here's the exact wording of the question:

  • Suppose you got two job offers: One for 10% more pay, but no option to telecommute or use personal devices at work (e.g. iPhones, iPads, etc.). The other offer, while lower, offers great flexibility both in where you live and work as well as the devices you can bring into the office. Which offer would you be likely to accept?

    A. I'd go with the better pay -- at the end of the day money is what matters most.

    B. Flexibility is more important to me -- I would sacrifice the extra cash for the opportunity to work wherever I am most productive and happiest.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at  @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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