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The mobile employee and workplace learning

The mobile employee is among us. Are you aware?

It happened smoothly, one day after another, one technological advancement after another. It crept like a bug in every office space and in every workplace setting. We can no longer consider him or her to belong to a science-fiction, tech-reliant future. The mobile employee is HERE, NOW!

And you are probably one of them.

Growing numbers of mobile devices

Everyone in the workplace was bitten by the mobile bug. From corporate CEOs, managers and fearless entrepreneurs, to busy-bee knowledge-based employees and agricultural or industrial workers, everyone seems to own one or more mobile devices — and use them while at work.

The numbers don't lie. Sales of smartphones and tablets have been on an ascendent track in the last decade, worldwide. Some countries in Africa and Asia skip the Western world's phase of desktop computers altogether and jump directly in the mobile pool.

People are getting used to accessing all the information they need in a matter of seconds. They check what's on in cinemas, do their shopping online, use banking services, date, and communicate with others — all by using their inter-connected mobile devices.

It's only natural that the modern employee wants to bring all the mobile power to work as well.

The mobile employee wants to BYOD at work

BYOD — Bring Your Own Device — at work is a movement that couldn't be possible without two things: mobile devices, and millennials.

The mobile devices part is quite straightforward. You can't really BYOD without a mobile phone or tablet, can you?

Millennials, on the other hand, deserve a little more attention. Mobile phones are, to some degree, a natural extension of young people's hands. They keep their phones within arm's reach at all times. They even develop new medical conditions — text neck, smartphone pinky, FOMO (fear of missing out) — because of their extensive use of mobile devices.

If you ask them:

Name three things that you'll take with you on a deserted island.

Their answer will probably be:

I only need one: my phone.

As the largest generation in the workplace, millennials bring their own mobile devices at work, along with all the needed online solutions and productivity apps. At the same time, they use their mobile devices in their personal lives, along with their work emails, presentations and reports. Personal life can't possibly end when someone goes to work, the same way as work doesn't necessarily end when someone leaves the workplace.

Mobile learning in the workplace

All the mobile worker needs is a mobile device and an internet connection. More and more employees state that they don't really need an office space in order to be productive. Work can happen while they commute, in a cafe, in an airport, or in any place connected to the almighty internet.

This increased mobility of employees makes the walls fall, not only in the workplace, but also in workplace learning.

Learning at work can happen at all times, thanks to mobile-friendly learning technology. Modern learning management systems come with all sorts of features and tools that support employees' learning process, no matter what device they are using. By accessing learning materials exactly when they need to, modern employees can tackle all their tasks and become better performers.

2 in 3 employees find accessing learning from a mobile device as essential or very important for successful training.
The Consumer Learner at Work Report, Towards Maturity

However, only 3 in 5 of L&D leaders say that staff can access learning at anytime.

This reality may have two sources: (1) Millennials may be many, but they don't have that much power to make things change faster, and (2) security of data is a serious concern for many employers. They don't own their employees' devices, so they can't control them; public internet connections in cafes and airports are not always safe for handling sensitive company data.

But let's not lose hope. Mobile devices are already part of our professional lives and they will continue to do so. Workplace learning certainly won't be accessed only through desktops as long as the modern employee will need to be on the go.

What do you think about the use of mobile devices at work? Are you guilty of this? Share your opinions in the comments section!

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