Mobility got Captain Cook, where will it take you?

closeThis article could be out of date, as it was published 9 months 26 days ago.

Mobility’s played a pretty prominent part in getting us to where we are as a civilisation.

If those hardy adventurers of the Age of Exploration had stayed at home, or even prior to their voyages, if stone age troglodytes didn’t venture far from their caves, it’s unlikely anything much would have developed.

The concept of mobility isn’t new, but today it is greatly aided and abetted by a raft of technological enablers that makes sitting at an office desk a rather quaint context for getting a bit of work done.

Mobility today means having access to all the services you need regardless of where you are and what device you choose to use.

Whether your laptop, smartphone or tablet (or even the family TV), when something needs doing, it’s at your fingertips.

It’s a powerful force which can fundamentally change the way in which we work. No longer is it necessary to be in the office at 8am sharp; no longer do we all need to get out and on the Auckland Harbour Bridge in the hours immediately preceding the traditional start of the workday. And no longer is our work strictly confined to that stuffy desk.

But what is a mobile worker? And how many of us are there? The morning traffic seems to confirm that too many of us are still making the daily grind – but that is because some jobs just can’t go mobile.

However, for those of us who work with information, work is increasingly something we do, not a place to which we go.

For anyone who falls into this category, it is theoretically possible to do your work from anywhere. As long as there is a connection, your device should allow you to connect with people, communicate and collaborate with them, access business information systems and do what needs to be done.

That’s a particularly comforting thing for all of us on the wrong end of the tyranny of distance. It means Kiwi number 8 wire can be exported across the world without having to join the exodus to cross the Tasman or further.

The advantages for mobile workers are legion. Interleaving work with play can mean more leisure time. You could play a more direct role in your family.

You could even be more productive, incentivised to get things done faster – which segues into advantages for companies. Happier, more productive workers who don’t have to be provisioned with office space and all the resources that go with that.

Sounds ideal, but there are of course constraints. People still like seeing people. Even though unified communications and other systems make it easy to connect, there still isn’t anything quite like a head popping round the door.

It is harder to build teams if people don’t get to hang out ‘round the water cooler. Not everyone is cut out for the responsibility that comes with the freedom of being cut loose from the desk.

However, the mobility that is enabled by technology today does give us more flexibility in how workforces can be equipped and managed. And flexibility is gold.

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