IT analyst, IDC has predicted that by 2015 a staggering 1.3 billion people will be remote workers – 37.2 per cent of the global workforce. The Office for National Statistics recently reported the return of cottage industries as almost three million Brits now work from home. Mobile working is on the rise.
The advent of personal computers, smartphones and tablets means people can conduct business from almost anywhere there’s a decent wi-fi connection. This greater flexibility means business people can catch up on work while travelling between appointments, reduce their commutes and fit work around commitments such as childcare.
But this increased connectivity means there’s a danger that we never switch off – something that may be putting us at risk.
This week, charity Brake called for a ban on the use of hands-free phones in cars. Brake points out that research suggests that 98% of motorists were unable to divide there time without it affecting their driving ability. Of course many will argue that conducting a business call while driving is no different to speaking with another passenger. Yet, the person at the other end of the call won’t stop speaking as you navigate a difficult junction or check for a cyclist in your wing mirror.
Stress is another danger zone. Our research shows that as many as one in five workers from across industries are taking time off due to stress. One of the pressure points could be our inability to switch off. With emails on our phones, the temptation to always be on-hand, no matter what time of the day, can be too hard for some to resist. Flexible working means the absence of a 9-5 day can result in longer hours worked that encroach into the personal sphere.
These examples are extreme. Remote, mobile and flexible working have improved our ability to adapt and do business with many more people than was previously possible – and it’s a trend that’s not going away. However, it’s important that any remote worker sets some ground rules. Perhaps a conference call on the school run isn’t the best idea, and dinner would be better served without a side of email trails. We all recognise the benefits of remote working, but we must not lose sight of the importance of downtime, and concentrating on what’s happening in the physical world, not just the virtual one.
Posted by the Secret Businessman