In today’s US workforce, over 30%of employees no longer work in a traditional 9-to-5 office environment. A recent online study, entitled Mobile Worker Report, conducted by Mobilegear.com, a niche OP website targeting the mobile workforce found that today’s mobile worker represents a much larger and more diverse population than what the company’s President/CEO Douglas Nash calls ‘road warriors’. “Road warriors have been a part of today’s business workforce for a long time, dating back to travelling salesmen. They know how to work in multiple environments because it’s always been their job to figure it out,” he states.
These original road warriors were mainly men who worked in the sales departments of very large corporations. In this study, the majority of mobile workers were still men, but only 27% worked for large corporations and most – 52% – worked for themselves or small companies (fewer than 100 employees). Only 20% of them described themselves as being in ‘sales’ while 50% indicated that they were a business owner, consultant or ‘other’, indicating that mobile workers now come from a wide variety of companies and represent a diverse skill set.
Still strong office base
Historically, road warriors spent nearly 40 hours or more on the road and out of the mobile workers indicated they were on the road for that period of time. In fact, 57% spent between 10-40 hours out of a traditional office. In addition, when asked: “Why do youwork remotely”, only 28% indicated that their “job required it” and cited work/life/family balance and other obligations as the main reasons for working outside a traditional office. Lastly, mobile workers were found to be highly educated with 76% of them holding college and/or postgraduate degrees.
Nash summarises: “Today’s mobile workers aren’t on the road as much, but they are working in multiple locations – home office, cafés, co-working spaces, their cars… Therefore, they are seeking to find products and services that empower them to work anywhere more effectively. It’s a matter of lifestyle/workstyle choice rather than job description.” Historically, large companies that employed road warriors bought the required mobile office supplies for their staff, but only 16% of today’s mobile workers rely on an employer to select and purchase supplies on their behalf. Instead, 35% claim purchases on expenses, with 45% buying their own mobile office supplies. More than half – 52% – stated they spent over $50 a month on office supplies. “We know that in today’s mobile workforce, the person buying OP and tech accessories is no longer in ‘purchasing’ or ‘admin’. It is
a person, a business consumer,” Nash says. “This fundamentally changes the way we need to sell and market these products.” What may be surprising in today’s technology-driven business environment is that mobile workers still use more traditional office supplies on a daily basis than tech tools. Almost all mobile workers (96%) use writing instruments daily, compared to 68% using wireless mice/keyboards or 16% using a stylus for tablets/smartphones.
Because mobile workers are working and meeting in many different environments, device protection and power is essential. The survey found that 79% use protective cases and 76% use power adaptors on a daily basis. However, mobile workers, it seems, aren’t too concerned with the brand, style or design of traditional business supplies, with the exception of writing tools and bags – both often considered more personal purchases and status symbols. Only 15% of mobile workers favour a briefcase these days, with 48% preferring a messenger/tote bag, followed by a backpack (23%).
Conversely, brand and style is important for technology tools that are in daily use such as power adaptors, headphones, wireless mice and protective cases. “These tech accessories say a lot about who a person is, so brand and style matter,” indicates Nash. All in all, when compared to the historical road warriors, today’s mobile workers represent a very diverse group of people, motivated by both business and personal reasons to work in non-traditional environments. Both technology advancements and evolving corporate cultures are the momentum beneath this growing trend and dramatic change in today’s workforce.
Chicago-based entrepreneur Douglas Nash founded Mobilegear.com in April 2013. The website targets the mobile workforce with over 3,000 mobile-oriented products.