Why your workforce needs to be mobilised today

Laptop man by Ed Yourdon

Laptop man by Ed Yourdon

I came up onto the District line platform at South Kensington station this morning just as a train pulled in. Normally, I would find my door (the one that opens straight onto the exit at Victoria) and jump in, but this time, whilst minding the gap, I brushed past a man trying to work on his laptop.

Seriously. A man trying to work on his laptop. Whilst stood up. On a busy rush-hour train in central London.

I was astonished at a few things:

  1. the man’s ability to hold a 15″ old-school laptop on a moving train
  2. his lack of forethought in trying to edit a private word document on a very public train
  3. his inability to use something more appropriate

It’s this last thing that really gets to me. At my work, I’m trying to bring my clients to the modern world by freeing their data and mobilising their workforce. This man exemplifies why I’m trying to do these things. It’s simply not feasible to work on the move without a device built for mobility, and no, not even a Macbook Air would have been suitable for this kind of use. A 7 to 10 inch device would have worked, something that isn’t going to endanger the passengers stood next to you if the train brakes suddenly, something that won’t run out of battery before you get into the office. Yet, conversely, something that you can access everything you need at work from your device.

As the PunchCut blog said, “Mobile is not a device, it’s a lifestyle“. Bosses: embrace this. Let your employees use their own phones and tablets to access data. If you don’t let them, they will find a way around it because the busy people of this world simply can’t work the old way any more: there’s just too much to do.

This is the year that businesses should be unleashing their employees. Give them the freedom to work the way they want to (like working from home and flexi time have done) and they will pay dividends, simply by being happier. A happy employee is a productive employee, and when you let that happy employee out of the office, they will tell their friends and be happier still.

So don’t let your employees be the ones stood on the tube holding a laptop, be the ones leaning by the doors, smiling at their iPad.

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Steve Workman

Steve Workman is the UI Tech Lead for yell.com at hibu. He is also an organiser for London Web Standards is an occasional public speaker, talking about web performance and web standards

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