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Cisco Outs The 'Workerless' Office

Forget about the future of the paperless office; according to a new survey from Cisco, we need to focus more on the future of the 'workerless office'. The survey of 2,600 IT and non-IT staff in 13 countries, called The Cisco Connected World Report, found that 60 percent of workers believe it is not necessary to be the office to be productive. The same percentage of respondents also claimed they would choose jobs that were lower-paying but had leniency in accessing information outside of the office over higher salaried jobs that lacked flexibility.

Workers may want to be able to work more out of the office, but that's a problem for most organizations, says Cisco's Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director, borderless networks. The survey found that almost half of the 1,300 IT professionals said their organizations weren't prepared to offer the flexibility to work productively outside the office. "Employee behavior makes work flexibility more than a technology discussion." The good news is that 15 percent of IT respondents said there organizations were prepared, and another 30-40 percent were working on it.

Dave Evans, Cisco's first IT employee and currently futurist and chief technologist, Internet business solutions group, says employee mobility is a fact of life. "Simply put, this report serves as a call-to-action for IT organizations. 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." According to the study, almost half (45 percent) of employees who can access corporate networks, applications, and information outside of the office, said they were working between two to three extra hours a day. A quarter of them reported they were putting in four hours or more a day.

The study consisted of two surveys -- one centering on employees, the other on IT professionals. Each survey included 100 respondents from each of the 13 countries, including the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Russia, India, China, and Japan.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of employees expect IT to allow them to use any device -- personal or company-issued -- to access corporate networks, applications, and information anywhere at any time, and they expect the types of devices to continue diversifying. From an IT perspective, the key concerns for the workerless-office were security (57 percent), budget (34 percent), and staff expertise (17 percent). For employees, IT and corporate policies were considered the biggest obstacles.