The Work Foundation have just produced a fascinating report on mobile working. They have trawled through a wide range of existing literature and surveyed over 500 managers across the UK to build up a picture of the extent of mobile working today and the way it is headed over the next few years.

Their survey showed that mobile working was the norm by 2014 for over one third of the individual respondents and over one third of the organisations they worked in. Over half will have adopted this way of working by 2017 which is why they describe this as a ‘tipping point’ beyond which the phenomenon becomes unstoppable. They also predict that by 2020, 70% of both individuals and organisations will have adopted mobile working.

Over half of the managers surveyed said they get more done through mobile working. 49% said they felt trusted and 41% felt empowered. Interestingly, only 24% said they felt disconnected from their team. Three quarters of managers said implementing flexible working will be a challenge for their organisation, with 84% saying performance management changes will be needed and 82% citing the need for changes to employment terms and conditions.

The report lists improved productivity, employee well-being, talent acquisition & retention and reduced accommodation costs as clear reasons for businesses to embrace flexibility. However, survey respondents overwhelmingly identified the HR burden and manager challenges inherent in the transition.

Their advice in adopting a strategy for mobile working is that leadership is critical. Organisational culture is pivotal in addressing the barriers and trust is key to successful implementation. People policies need to change and careful planning is essential.

Whist none of these conclusions are a surprise, it’s good to see a well researched report reinforcing the message that mobile working is here to stay and that organisations need to wake up to the fact that flexible forms of working are rapidly becoming the norm.