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The Office: Who Needs It

Sixty percent of employees in study say they don't need to go into an office to be productive; IT execs worry about security of mobile workers
Most workers across the globe no longer believe they need to be in the office to be productive, according to a study published today.

According to a survey by Cisco Systems, the same percentage of workers would choose jobs that were lower-paying but had leniency in accessing information outside of the office over higher salaried jobs that lacked such flexibility.

The study, which involved surveys of 2,600 workers and IT professionals in 13 countries, said that half of the respondents (45 percent) admitted working between two to three extra hours a day, and a quarter were putting in four hours or more. "The extra hours do not translate to always-on, on-demand employees," Cisco said. "They simply want the flexibility to manage their work-life balance throughout their waking hours."

While employees strongly indicated that flexibility and mobility are key elements of job satisfaction, the IT professionals surveyed said they are not certain they are ready to grant workers such broad access. Almost half of the IT respondents (45 percent) said they are not prepared, policy- and technology-wise, to support a more mobile workforce. Security was the top concern.

While the IT respondents felt security (57 percent), budget (34 percent), and staff expertise (17 percent) were the biggest barriers to enabling a more distributed workforce, employees often felt IT and corporate policies were the obstacles.

According to the survey, concerns about mobile device security are well-founded. About one in five (19 percent) employees globally said they have noticed strangers looking at their computer screens in public, while an additional 19 percent admitted they never think to check their surroundings.

Nearly one in five (17 percent) employees admitted leaving devices unattended in public. Almost three of every five employees globally (58 percent) admitted they have allowed nonemployees to use their corporate devices unsupervised.

One of four IT respondents (26 percent) said one-fourth of the devices issued to employees in the past 12 months had already been lost or stolen.

"Simply put, this report serves as a call-to-action for IT organizations," said Dave Evans, futurist and chief technologist for Cisco's Internet Business Solutions Group. "Work is not a place anymore. It's a lifestyle, and the IT profession's role is only going to get more strategic as it tries to help businesses stay agile and increase productivity."

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