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Technologies to revolutionise our daily lives

Wireless technology means people can work almost anywhere Keystone

Mobile, internet and email – these forms of telecommunications are changing our lives at work and at play.

This content was published on November 26, 2003 - 11:25

New wireless solutions will in the future allow employers to benefit from a mobile workplace thanks to high-speed connections.

According to research carried out by information technology analysts, the Gartner Group, changes in working habits and new advances in telecommunications will push half of the workforce towards irregular working patterns by 2010.

Today more than 20 per cent of Swiss companies could envisage allowing their workers to access their emails when they are out of the office, according to a survey carried out by research firm IHA-GfK.

An estimated 13 per cent of the population, or a million people in Switzerland, use a laptop or a personal organiser, says Swisscom - the country’s largest telecommunications provider - and the number is rising.

Staying connected

In the future, the barriers between fixed and mobile networks and voice and data carriers will disappear.

“A single network that is more flexible, constantly accessible form any place and allows all combinations of voice and data to be transferred will replace the multiple networks which currently exist,” said Frank Dunn, CEO and president of Nortel, the Canadian telecoms company.

The remaining obstacles to physically linking employees to their company will give way to the concept of mobile working. The convergence of telecoms and information technology will allow people to do their work anywhere.

A walk through the first-class compartments on some Swiss trains gives an idea of what mobile working might look like. With a mobile phone clapped to one ear and crouched over a laptop, businessmen and women can use the journey to write emails, prepare their next presentation and fix appointments.

Tomorrow, thanks to wireless solutions, they will benefit from increased access to high-speed internet connections.

Time management

The new generation of mobile employees will have to learn to manage their time and environment differently because working hours on the go will not be shorter.

There will be no more “dead time”, which potentially gives workers breathing space while waiting for a plane or a train.

As compensation, the employee will not necessarily have to turn up at the office to complete his tasks. He or she will also have more freedom in deciding how to use his or her time.

But to convince the user, telecom companies will have to come up with practical services that are affordable and easy to use.

What remains to be seen is which groups of workers will actually benefit from mobile working.

The traditional businessman or woman who already exploits the full range of telecommunications available will probably want to benefit from any new technological advances. White-collar workers are likely to benefit too.

But it is clear that some manual workers will be excluded. If those who are frequently on the move, such as plumbers and delivery workers, could exploit a mobile link with their companies, then those working on the factory floor or on building sites would not have access to the same technology.

Such a situation could lead to a yawning divide in the workplace between those employees who are connected to the world of mobile multimedia services and those who are restricted to the basic provisions of a mobile phone.

swissinfo, Luigino Canal (translation: Faryal Mirza)

In brief

Advances in telecommunications will push half the workforce towards irregular working patterns, according to research by information technology analysts, the Gartner Group.

An estimated 13 per cent of the Swiss population use a lap top or personal organiser, and the number is growing.

The new generation of mobile employees will have to learn to manage their time differently, as what constitutes working times and places will be more flexible.

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