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Remote, Mobile Workforces Are Here to Stay, Report Suggests

image credit: Credit: Bludsick via Wikimedia Commons

According to a new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), The U.S. mobile worker population is forecast to grow over the next four years from 78.5 million mobile workers in 2020 to 93.5 million in 2024. By the end of the forecast period, mobile workers are forecast to account for nearly 60% of the total U.S. workforce.

The move has implications for IT spending, business processes and the ability to maintain efficiencies outside the office.

In its forecast, International Data Corp. said it expects the number of mobile workers to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4% over five years, outpacing the overall U.S. workforce growth. Businesses are expected to spend around one third of their IT budgets on mobile hardware, software and services.

U.S. organizations are signaling that investment in mobile-based management and security will become even more important through the forecast period.

For example, extended reality (XR) tools are receiving increased attention and investment. The umbrella term includes technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality. Worldwide spending on virtual reality tools is expected to rise from $4.5 billion in 2019 to $7.1 billion this year, driven in part by the need to support a more remote workforce due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

IDC said it defines mobile workers as workers who are enabled with mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets) by their company to complete their assigned tasks and workflows. It splits the mobile worker population into two core categories: information mobile workers and frontline mobile workers, which are most common in the utility sector.

These workers perform client-facing or operational activities onsite or in the field that require distributed, mobile access to data, content, applications, and workflows. Frontline workers currently make up the majority of U.S. workers, accounting for just under 60% of the total U.S. worker population.

IDC said that less than half of these workers are currently enabled with mobile devices. By comparison, around 55% of information workers are mobile device-enabled. These workers include programmers and business analysts.

Although the number of frontline workers in the U.S. is expected to post little growth over the next several years, the number of information workers is expected to jump, largely due to remote and work-from-home policies in the wake of Covid-19.

IDC said that nearly 9 out of every 10 U.S. companies expect their employees to continue working from home three or more days per week once mandatory closures are lifted.

"To meet the needs of more mobile, remote, and work-from-home workers, U.S. enterprises have indicated that mobile security and mobile management solutions will be top spending priorities going forward to keep both information and frontline workers productive and secure in decentralized working environments," the research firm said.


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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 21, 2020

IDC said that nearly 9 out of every 10 U.S. companies expect their employees to continue working from home three or more days per week once mandatory closures are lifted.

I think our grandkids will look at TV shows and movies where people's lives revolved around communing to an office and spending 8-10 hours everyday there as one of the more bizarre things about our world that we always considered normal. This is going to be a positive change!

Alan King's picture
Alan King on Sep 21, 2020

Excellent read, thanks for sharing David and I agree. We're certainly starting to see the seeds of change being sown with regard to reprioritising of budgets toward more mobile enabled workforces longer term here in Australia.

DW Keefer's picture

Thank DW for the Post!

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