Increased productivity in government sounds like a contradiction in terms. But one article says that mobile devices may be fundamental to Federal efforts to increase productivity.
The Wired Workplace blog, which covers issues facing Federal IT workers, included a post on the topic. Brittany Ballenstedt wrote:
[A] study found that 49 percent of IT professionals doubt that federal agencies can be productive without PC alternatives such as laptops, smartphones and tablets. Fifty-one percent of IT professionals said not having these mobile devices could impair the government’s ability to attract and retain top talent.
With government mandates like the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act and Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel’s new federal mobility strategy, agencies are using more mobile devices. To meet the increasing demand for mobility, the federal workforce will need approximately 533,000 tablets and 355,000 smartphones in the next two years.
Whether you work in government or the private sector, we are all addicted to our mobile devices and email management. It’s really no surprise that many experts believe that these gizmos increase productivity, because they let us do work when we aren’t at our desk.
However, the article also highlighted some concerns and opportunities:
Still, federal IT professionals said moving to mobile is not without challenges. Security risks (78 percent), IT staffing (43 percent), the diversity of devices and platforms (39 percent) and budget constraints (38 percent) were cited as the biggest challenges for federal mobile use.
The federal government can embrace other tools and technologies to help overcome these challenges, however, IT professionals noted. Identity management and access control were considered the most important tools to implement, followed by messaging and collaboration, mobile applications and desktop from the cloud.
Here at AccelaWork, we have a bigger question about “going mobile.” Are these wireless devices just another way to try to pressure employees into working long hours? After all: you can’t increase worker productivity by expecting people to never take breaks. If someone feels like they’re always on the clock, then there may be a good chance that they never actually have productive hours of hard work.
The real advantage of portable electronics may be that we are not tied to the office to work. In fact: research shows telecommuting increases employee productivity because it helps people avoid interruptions and demonstrates who is truly effective at their jobs. In previous decades, workers had to be in the office to have access to any semblance of usable technology. Now that the computers from the 80s fit in our pockets, that’s no longer necessary.
As with anything technology related, there are strong points to be made in both the pro and con columns. And it’s never going to be an answer that falls fully onto one side. Finding the right balance of technology, a mobile workforce, and a proper amount of working hours is necessary. But striking the exact balance is what can be a major difficulty, especially for organizations as large as the United States government. Throw in all the input from the various shareholders and the inevitable public outcry if anything goes remotely wrong, and someone is going to have a major task on their hands. Fortunately, your organization probably isn’t the size of an entire country.
We’ll see what happens with regard to government productivity. But we’re hopeful that the trend toward mobile workers is one toward autonomy, independence, and efficiency.
Struggling with finding the right balance of working while mobile and still taking breaks? You’re not the only one! This is a common problem among today’s workforce and we’d be happy to help. Contact the business improvement consultants at AccelaWork for more information today.