People that may otherwise have problems participating in the workforce are turning to mobile technology to overcome barriers, new research shows.
The research - Mobile nation: Driving workforce participation and productivity - was commissioned by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) and conducted by Deloitte Access Economics.
It used a survey of 800 mobile users to try to measure how the technology enabled users to participate in the labour force.
Those users came from demographics including “part-time workers, carers, individuals with a disability, parents of young children, young people, individuals living in rural or remote areas, and those who are considering retirement.”
These demographics were seen by the study’s authors as being open to technologies that helped them participate more in the workforce.
“Mobile enables people to work remotely, or meet their personal commitments while at work,” the study said.
“It can also reduce the costs and frictions associated with finding a new job”.
The study in particular sought to quantify just how many extra hours may be worked by users “because of the ability mobile [technology provides to work remotely and/or meet personal commitments while at work.”
One of the obvious benefits of mobile technology is it breaks down location and geographic barriers to workforce participation.
“Advancements in mobile technology have now made it possible for employees to stay connected to the office via their mobile devices,” the study said.
“This has contributed to teleworking arrangements, where an employee can perform the duties and responsibilities of their job from an approved remote worksite (such as their home), to become more available for Australians.”
The study found that “nearly 15 percent” of respondents would work fewer hours if they were not able to work remotely.
It also noted that mobile technology could help people participate in the workforce by helping to manage day-to-day responsibilities.
“Many individuals have personal commitments outside work such as home duties, parenting and caring responsibilities that can influence their decision to participate in the workforce,” the study said.
“Previously, personal commitments could not realistically be completed without presence both at work or another location such as home; or completing them would incur significant travel time costs, which could reduce the ability for individuals to engage in more hours in the workforce.”
“Mobile allows employees to make more productive use of time, work more efficiently with productivity-enhancing tools such as mobile apps, and also allows more people to work, facilitates working more paid hours, and allows people to stay engaged and connected, thereby improving participation in the workforce,” Deloitte Access Economics partner Ric Simes said.
“Reducing barriers to employment can open up a new set of opportunities for people in these groups, and the flexibility offered by mobile is a real enabler here.”