The mobile worker is not a new concept. Empowering workers to work from any location, at any time is something enterprises have been doing for a while. The rise of the millennial workforce is only driving this ever faster.
According to Vinay Awasthi, Vice President and General Manager Personal Systems Business for the Asia Pacific and Japan at HP, our workplace and workforce is everywhere and no longer confined to desks. But what is needed he said, is for technology to enable them to be productive no matter where they are.
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the HP Elite Dragonfly in Tokyo, Awasthi added that he rarely attends meetings where someone was not dialing in from another location and the use of technology-enabled collaboration and content sharing, and dialog.
Reaching that work-life balance
One thing that modern workplaces were meant to have solved was the quandary of work-life balance. “For my generation, we were used to ‘Be productive in the office and enjoy life after’, “Awasthi said,” Younger workers see themselves as having one life, and want to enjoy that life with their offices and the traditional nine to five no longer relevant.”
During a panel at the same event, Lisa Messenger, Founder of Collective Hub, said, “People say the future of work is 2029, but the future of work is now. We have the technology to enable us. My team is bigger than ever, and they are all across the world.”
Needing a mindset change
But this also requires management to rethink the measure of the productivity of an employee.
Awasthi said that we have to stop looking at time as the measure of work and productivity but output instead. He added that we also need to be conscious of the fact that people are collaborating all the time on multiple devices.
Messenger agreed saying that their productivity is through the roof, “It’s not about bums in the seat, but output and productivity.”
“I don’t mind if I see my team at the beach all day. I am looking at KPIs and my people can have freedom, mobility, and flexibility,” she added, “Let’s make it a borderless society. Productivity is through the roof – and people are happier. Let’s work on output as opposed to time in the office.”
Hiroshi Ono, Professor at Hitotsubashi University Business School, School of International Corporate Strategy, said that his team had been pushing for a work-life balance that was rarely seen in traditional companies in Japan.
He revealed that when he spoke to the human resource people at Unilever, he was told that rather than productivity the company aimed to boost happiness. “Happiness leads to motivation, and motivation leads to higher productivity,” he explained, “Productivity is just the consequence of happiness.”
But Messenger cautioned, “We often think I can work from anywhere. But the truth is you need more discipline, routine, rituals, and you need a sense of purpose.”
Ono agreed saying that while we need to look at environments where employees are in control of where and when they work, “Trust is also important. The biggest impediment is lack of trust,”
No one size fits all
Awasthi said that the modern workplace and workforce are diverse. With more workers using devices like laptops for work and communications, fewer workers are confined to desks.
He added that with a workplace and workforce operating from everywhere, technology needs to empower them, like providing them with longer battery life for example.
But he cautioned that one size doesn’t fit all. What was needed were devices that could cater to different needs and situations. “Power users and mobile workers need different tools and solutions,” Awasthi said, “But above all that, security is important and needs to be embedded into it.”