Employers are demonstrating changing attitudes to mobile usage in the workplace and now believe the devices deliver better employee engagement, flexibility and increased productivity.
A survey of 1,000 office workers in the UK found that 40pc of people believe a mobile phone gives colleagues flexible working options and one-third believe it makes them more efficient.
Nearly a quarter – 24pc – feel having a mobile phone gives them a high level of responsibility, with this rising to 41pc of 16-24 year olds.
"The current recession, new technologies and the rise of Generation Y attitudes to communications are combining to create enormous change in the office,” explains Philip Grannum, director of Enterprise at Cable & Wireless Worldwide.
“We see many new ways of working emerging and have coined the phrase the ‘Inquisitive Organisation’ to embody the companies that will be successful in this era.
“By this, we mean businesses that can harness new communications technologies and map them onto the way people naturally work and in particular tap into the way that younger people are used to communicating.
Grannum continues: “Our survey finds that more widespread use of work mobile phones in particular will help drive this through. New technologies such as fixed mobile convergence (FMC), which directs mobile calls made in the office over the internet for free, are also going to facilitate this process.
“Not only can we be more productive and innovative, but we will be saving significant costs,” he noted.
The benefits of having a single device instead of juggling between a desk phone and a mobile were perceived as particularly strong.
Over three in five people (64pc) that would rather have a mobile device said they wanted one because it would be easier than managing multiple devices.
People across all age ranges said they would rather use a mobile than a landline because others could reach them wherever they were, with nearly three quarters of 16-24 year olds (78pc) and 55+ year olds (73pc agreeing).
The survey also exposes some of the pitfalls of mobile phone use in the modern office: participants reported a variety of incidents such as having a phone thrown at them by a colleague, or accidentally texting a personal message to their boss.
It also reveals attitudes towards being contacted out of hours or on holidays, which divide strongly along age and industry lines.
"The economic downturn is actually forcing through a lot of innovation in workplace communications technologies,” Grannum explains.
“Technological developments are constantly emerging to facilitate a more dynamic, flexible office culture, for example FMC enables companies to cut costs by dispensing with landlines and simultaneously allows them to increase workplace flexibility by offering affordable mobiles to all employees.
“What this survey shows, is a widespread awareness that as time get tougher, businesses need to equip themselves, and their workforce, with the capacity for real flexibility in the workplace,” Grannum adds.
By John Kennedy