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Mobile and portable devices are redefining the way we live and work. This post discusses four ways in which this is happening.

One of the words from our general lexicon that is being redefined for the tech and business spaces is “mobility’, thanks to the explosion of mobile/cellular phones and tablet computers in today’s market. Traditionally, “mobility” speaks to the ability for a person or thing to move or be freely moved. However increasingly, the term is also being used to represent the use of mobile and portable tools and equipment that allow persons to conduct business away from the main workplace.

Having said this, and without many of us recognising it, mobile/cellular phones and tablets are also becoming increasingly integral to our personal lives – how we engage with family and friends; how we manage our associated responsibilities, etc. This post highlights a few of many ways in which those devices have been having an impact on both our personal and professional lives.

1.  Expectation of continuous connectivity

Across the Caribbean, but also worldwide, there is an expectation that eventually, wireless networks, such as those for mobile/cellular and wireless broadband communications, will fully cover the entire geographical area of countries. In most countries, where there has been a focus on wireless networks and services, telcos have focussed, in the first instance, on realising 100% population coverage – that all population centres have service. As a result, there is a growing expectation among many of us of having continuous connectivity regardless of our  location. This situation, when coupled with the mobility afforded by smartphones, tablets and even laptops, is encouraging  a greater emphasis on being constantly connected so that we can use those devices as and when we  wish.

2.  Continuous communications

As equipment we typically carry on our person, mobile and portable devices allow us to remain continually connected. Consequently, we are increasingly accessible and available not only to our family and friends, but also to our employers and clients.

Admittedly, many of us have welcomed this new paradigm, but it is leading to an expectation that we must be available at all times, which is blurring the delineations between our personal and professional time (or lives). Furthermore, although organisations might welcome this development as fostering business responsiveness, it may also be leading increasing number of persons to burnout earlier in their careers, since the work-life balance appears to be eroding.

3.  Out of office productivity

One of the distinct benefits of mobile and portable devices is that they allow us to attend to office matters while you are away from your desk.  We can stay connected with our offices, and use tools and resources, such as cloud applications and services, which operate independent of geographic location and have been optimised for mobility. As a result, productivity can increase, even if we are at home, at a meeting or travelling for work.

Similarly, upon your return to office, the typical challenge of catching up with matters raised during your absence may be less daunting and less time consuming, since it may be possible to address most of those activities without having to be physically present in the office.

4.  A luxury but increasingly essential device

http://www.flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/Finally, in recent years, the cost of PCs and laptops have been steadily decreasing. However the current prices of smartphones and tablets are more expensive than those more established pieces of equipment.  For example, the most recently launched Apple iPad, which is the most popular tablet computer on the market, retails for approximately USD 600.00, not including sales tax, and all the add-ons essential with such a purchase. Similarly, an international or unsubsidised version of the Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone has a starting price of USD 899.00. On the other hand, a decent laptop can be purchased for under USD 500.

Although smartphones and tablet computers are highly sought commodities in the consumer/retail market, they are also becoming increasingly integral to the workplace. Frequently, persons in supervisory and management positions are expected to use such devices, with the ultimate goal of ensuring connectivity and productivity outside of their primary  workplace.

While some organisations are prepared to offer smartphones and tablets as perks of certain positions, many cannot afford to do so.  many businesses are piggybacking their needs on their employees’ personal devices. Although on the face of it, this option offers a real alternative to organisations, there are a number of issues that both employer and employee ought to consider to ensure that the most mutually beneficial arrangements are made.

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