The work is considered to be mobile under following conditions:
• the use of mobile IT and telecommunication devices, which make it possible to access the business processes independently of location,
• the possibility of continuous data exchange with other employees and customers in any place,
• carrying out the work task at changing locations,
• the flexibility of time to carry out the work task.
Mobile work means working at a location other than the central office or home for at least 10 hours per week.
- Work for a “customer.” From craftsmanship and maintenance of the utility industry on the ground via outpatient medical services to police work in various locations, the importance of mobile technology is increasing. Communication with the operations center and the use of mobile communication devices, such as notebooks or tablet computers, control the deployment and provide up-to-date information for executing the work task. The necessary information is targeted via notebooks or tablet computers, compact and up-to-date with the employees. This information – such as customers, products, contract terms or trip plans – can be accessed, exchanged and updated. Orders can also be sent directly to the company database, saving time and effort, and processed there. Working hours can be recorded and information retrieved from the intranet via mobile devices.
- IT consulting. In the IT industry, tasks for customers as well as consulting and training services and projects are provided on a mobile basis. They require high adaptation services, which are not comparable with previous permanent work activities. Employees in the IT industry record the wishes of their customers and their requirements for networks and software directly from their clients. Here they create the specifications and specifications, present the individual works, check the processes and conduct dialogues with the users in order to achieve optimal configurations. With the sale of IT systems maintenance contracts are usually agreed, which also bring regular mobile work.
- Customer Service. When servicing and repairing complex equipment, service personnel can access product documentation and order needed parts. Wherever mobile devices are used, employees can be reached, monitored and scheduled for new orders at any time. The use of technical customer service is often controlled via call centers using mobile phones and laptops. The service technicians take their spare parts warehouse in the company car or store it at home. The reports are written on the road and transmitted as data or by e-mail. Often the function of the customer service technician also includes informing the customer about new products and services. Product training takes place as meetings in changing locations. A presence at the company headquarters is in fact only required in exceptional cases.
- Representation and sale. The presentation of many products for wholesaling and retailing is carried out at the point of sale. Be it the pharmaceutical or insurance industry, vacuum cleaners or industrial plants – the representatives are mobile and must attend to the presentation dates on time. They respond to different customers and are often valued and paid for sales success. Again, mobility is an additional requirement that involves organizational effort and energy.
- Mobile patient care. A growing number of people in need of nursing care can now live independently in their own living environment. The basis for this is the support provided by mobile outpatient care services. The information about the operational plan and the services to be provided as well as short-term changes are increasingly being received by employees via smartphones and mobile devices. These are also the documentation of achievements and the coordination with the colleagues. If the deployment scenarios are rigid and the deadlines unrealistic, even small disruptions can confuse the work processes and produce stress. In addition, if the technology allows direct control of the work results by the operations center, the performance pressure is multiplied.
- Teleworking at home. The increased use of mobile devices has given new impetus to the implementation of teleworking projects. Teleworking refers to a form of work that is provided in the “home office” or in variants of external offices. For telework only, the teleworker works in the home office. Communication with the employer takes place digitally or by exchange of documents. It is not necessary that mobile devices are available. A presence in the company is not required. The alternating telework takes place partly in the employees’ home and partly in the company. In contrast to exclusive telework, it also lends itself to more complex tasks, e.g. for programming and application development, for translation services or work in the fields of consulting, science and journalism.
Business presence must be organized in such a way as to be able to attend team meetings, perform work-related tasks, make arrangements, and use centralized resources. Domestic working time should, as far as possible, support the compatibility of work and life balance.
Telework continues to spread, especially alternating teleworking. However, it is not regulated by the company, but is usually practiced by direct agreement between employees and direct supervisors. Companies often use alternating teleworking to save office space by allowing two employees to share an office work space or a desk-sharing area “that can be used by all employees. How employees rate their work in the home office is shown in the figure below.
Comfort versus privacy
The outlined applications offered by mobile devices often come into the focus of interest groups on the topic of data protection, because in the background of these mobile applications (apps) data processing and storage processes are running, which are usually not transparent to the user. Many of these apps collect data via the camera, the microphone or the built-in sensors and forward them via an existing Internet connection to a server of the service provider, where complex software analyzes the data and sends, for example. Recognized words and sentences or analysis results of images back to the smartphone. Likewise, places and times of booking and data entry processes are logged. Based on such log data locations or working hours can be adjusted. Especially with centrally administered mobile devices, company agreements are indispensable, which define clear regulations for the protection of employees against performance and behavioral control.