United Stationers: Technology-enabled Mobile Workers

Mobile workers as a percentage of the workforce is highest in smaller companies, where as many as 72% of workers do not work in traditional company offices. But, even in larger companies, as many as 15% of workers indicate that they sometimes work off-


Worker mobility contributes to the empowered user phenomenon that has manifested itself in office purchasing, as described in United’s recent Empowered User white paper. Empowered users purchase what they need, largely outside the company purchasing process. Where empowered users’ purchases are split between purchases for the department and for their own use, mobile worker purchases usually are specifically for their own use. 

At least 2/3 of the mobile worker’s purchasing is “buy what I need and get reimbursed”. The larger the company, the greater the likelihood that purchasing agents and their processes consider mobile and work-from-home purchasing outside the scope of company control. Less than half of purchasing managers appear to be influencing the mobile purchasing behavior of their company’s mobile workers in any way.  

Office and computer supplies are the categories most-often purchased by mobile workers, with 94% and 88% indicating that they regularly purchase these respective categories for their own use. Not surprisingly, mobile workers are purchasing less office furniture, breakroom and jan/san products, although when they do, they purchase at their own discretion and then get reimbursed. 

Technology is a significant enabler of the mobile worker, from increased access to purchasing sites, to the growing use and expanding application of mobile devices. 

Click the link below to download the full version of the ‘technology enabled mobile workers’ white paper.