Aruba Networks is calling for businesses to start looking for the signs of #GenMobile – a new type of mobile-driven employee that’s entering the workforce.
According to Aruba, employers need to be able to spot and manage #GenMobile effectively in order to enable a productive workforce, and imperatively a competitive position in an ever changing business environment.
The company’s #GenMobile study, which garnered the responses of 5,000 18-to-35-year-olds, found that fact that 65% of respondents now have three or more connected devices, showing a clear shift towards mobile computing.
Also, 57% preferred to connect via Wi-Fi compared with 3G/4G or wired networks. However, perhaps most interesting is the view of what respondents were willing to give up in place of mobility.
29% of the respondents would give up coffee before giving up their mobile devices. Finally, 53% said they would give up a higher paying salary in exchange for being able to work from home 2 – 3 days a week.
TechRadar Pro spoke to Chris Kozup, Director of Global marketing at Aruba Networks about his views on Aruba’s research into this new breed of employee.
TechRadar Pro: How do you feel the rise of #GenMobile will benefit both employers and employees?
Chris Kozup: The rise of #GenMobile brings with it a shift in how people work, live and interact with one another. This new mobile lifestyle makes it easier for people to balance their professional and personal lives. Having access to the resources and information we need whenever and wherever we are allows us greater flexibility.
This desire for individual flexibility can also be a benefit for the employer. Those employers who offer the conditions sought after by #GenMobile are more likely to attract and retain the best talent. Furthmore, happy employees will make for productive employees – a benefit employers are certain to appreciate.
TRP: What were the most interesting trends you saw emerge from this survey?
CK: There were a number of stand out findings in this study. Firstly, the fact that 65% of respondents now have 3 or more connected devices shows the clear shift towards mobile computing. Also, 57% preferred to connect via Wi-Fi compared with 3G/4G or wired networks.
However, perhaps most interesting is the view of what respondents were willing to give up in place of mobility. 29% of the respondents would give up coffee before giving up their mobile devices. Finally, 53% said they would give up a higher paying salary in exchange for being able to work from home 2 – 3 days a week.
TRP: BYOD has been a talking point for a while, are employers finally moving towards solving this to enable more flexibility for employees?
CK: The adoption of BYOD strategies still varies by region within Europe. Countries like Germany and France are on average slower to embrace the use of employee owned devices. In the UK, we have seen some very large institutions move to embrace BYOD as a trend.
Those industries leading the trend tend include financial Services, insurance and professional services. Of course education has been enabling BYOD for years.
Irrespective of the degree to which the organisation is supporting BYOD initiatives, IT must still use tools to gain visibility of which devices and applications are accessing the network. Once a complete view is attained, IT can establish and enforce policies for corporate and/or employee owned devices.
TRP: Our personal and working lives are becoming blurred due to the proliferation of connected devices. Do you think there is still a place for traditional offices and working hours?
CK: Yes. The concept of traditional offices and working hours will still exist. The move towards a more flexible work environment is driven by certain types of employees and is more prevalent in certain industry segments.
Knowledge workers and industries including financial and professional services are leading the way in this transition. Industries like healthcare and retail will still require more traditional work places, for obvious reasons.
TRP: How do you see technology enabling the future of the workplace; where do you see the trends of #GenMobile taking us?
CK: Aruba Networks envisions the workplace of the future being one in which employees have complete flexibility to access information and collaborate and where business processes become increasingly automated by technology.
The biggest trend highlighted by the #GenMobile research is that this new generation will place a higher value on flexibility in the workplace than ever before. Employers will need to shift their thinking on the concept of the workplace to not only meet the needs of existing #GenMobile employees, but also to be sure they can attract and retain new talent.
TRP: Are there any regional differences to be considered here?
CK: While there are some regional variances in the findings, the overall conclusions that #GenMobile has emerged as a new generation of employees remains consistent. However, some European regional highlights include:
• Germany looks to be leading the way in mobile working models. Already 14% of respondents here indicate that they spend more than 8 hours per day (56 hours per week) on their mobile devices.
• The Spanish are the most entertainment gadget-friendly; with 68% having bought a connected TV, speakers or games console in the past twelve months.
• The UK continues to be a nation obsessed with mobile shopping – 56% of respondents here are already avid users.
• The French are the least trusting of mobile banking – 51% do not use it – but 76% of respondents in Sweden do make use of this service.
What can businesses do now to accommodate #GenMobile workers without harming their own productivity?
Employees increasingly expect connected mobile devices to infiltrate their working lives. Most of them prefer Wi-Fi over any other form of connectivity. Employers need to set aside ample budget for making their workplace fully connected for employees – with the security and connections available to facilitate this shift.
Additionally, flexible and remote working is a top priority for #GenMobile. With the traditional ‘productive’ working hours slipping away, many people would preference working remotely over a higher salary. Employers need to put measures in place to cater to this growing need to work outside traditional office hours, or risk frustrating #GenMobile.
Finally, by taking into consideration #GenMobile’s demands and priorities, companies will be able
to position themselves competitively and consequently, attract and retain #GenMobile talent. Their ability to provide flexibility and mobility will become differentiating factors in the market.
TRP: How prepared would you say UK businesses and infrastructure are for this new generation of worker?
GM: Compared to a number of European countries, the UK is relatively ahead of the game in terms of catering for #GenMobile. We have seen a large majority of educational institutions deploy Wi-Fi pervasively and embrace mobile computing and applications in a big way.
This is obviously building the appetite for mobility in the workplace as graduates transition into the workforce. However, the penetration of Wi-Fi within the typical UK company has increased consistently over the past 5 years with Wi-Fi becoming the network of choice for 63% of UK employees (compared with 57% globally).
To remain at the head of the curve, UK businesses must take further steps to understand how to attract and retain #GenMobile employees. Although efforts cannot stop there. It’s critical that employers not only understand how their technology strategies can improve talent retention, but also how their technology strategies can transform their business processes.
TRP: Are you yourself #GenMobile?
GM: Absolutely. #GenMobiles are characterised as keeping flexible work hours, owning 3 or more mobile devices and as having a strong preference for Wi-Fi as their primary network connection.
My work day is consistently blurred with my personal life as I am often working later in the evening or from locations other than my office. As a true #GenMobile, I value the ability to access both business and personal content on all of my devices.
This flexibility defines how I choose to live – with neither location nor time restricting my productivity.