Are mobile workers the happiest workforce?

Study produced by IronmongeryDirect, the UK's largest online and mail order supplier of ironmongery products.


Technology is impacting the construction industry like never before. By utilising tablets, laptops, mobiles and apps it is now even easier for tradespeople to become mobile workers. But does this make their job easier and more enjoyable?

As tradespeople are predominately a mobile workforce, we decided to conduct research to find out how happy they are as mobile workers and the reasons why they enjoy mobile working. Also, we wanted to discover how technology is impacting on their work, and whether it is driving productivity.

We surveyed 500 mobile working trade professionals from a range of trades and also 500 non-mobile workers from other industries across the UK to draw comparisons.

Results of survey

Does mobile working positively affect the workforce?

Tradespeople stated that flexible working (61%) and increased productivity (28%) were the biggest benefits of mobile working. In fact, a massive 98% of tradespeople said they were happy with the amount of flexibility their job provides. Other benefits of mobile working included improved operational profit (15%), reduced business costs (11%), increased accuracy of work (9%) and attracting top talent (5%).

When asked what they enjoy most about mobile working the majority (62%) said they liked having flexibility over the hours they work. 42% also took satisfaction in the fact they are trusted to do their job independently. Some tradespeople also prefer mobile working over being confined to an office as 23% said it helps them to work better as there are fewer distractions than in an office environment and a fifth said it ensures they don't get caught up in office politics. In fact, 16% said mobile working helps them to work with their team more easily.

Almost four fifths of trade professionals (79%) believe that mobile working adds to productivity and improves their job performance.

How much does technology impact mobile workers?

In a world that is becoming increasingly digitalised, businesses are now seeing the benefits and starting to not only use technology as a way to improve communication and internal processes, but also as a driving force for how they grow.

When tradespeople were asked about which types of mobile technology their business has already adopted to be more productive, email (71%) and smart phones (69%) came out as the most commonly used. 34% used laptops and 33% used tablets as an aid to working but as little as 17% used mobile forms as opposed to paper ones. Only 10% used file-sharing tools and 7% used video calls.

In comparison, non-mobile workers relied most on mobile phones (57%) and laptops (46%) to improve productivity at work.

Interestingly though, when tradespeople were asked what types of mobile technology they would like to adopt, they stated tablets (26%) and mobile forms to replace paper ones (25%) as two of the top desired. Video calls were the least desired form of mobile tech (5%).

Non-mobile workers were on a similar wavelength with 48% wanting their company to invest in tablets to improve productivity and 51% saying they wanted to adopt the cloud.

A staggering 85% of mobile workers said that technology has improved their working life, in comparison to 67% of non-mobile workers. 64% of tradespeople consider themselves more tech-savvy than non-mobile workers, whereas only 35% of non-mobile workers think they're more technologically advanced.

Are mobile workers the happiest workforce?

We wanted to find out how happy both mobile workers and non-mobile workers are in their jobs.

91% of mobile working tradespeople said they are happy in their jobs, with 50% of these claiming they were very happy. However, only 62% of non-mobile workers said they were happy in their jobs, with just 24% claiming they were very happy.

In addition, 90% of tradespeople said they were happier as a mobile worker than a non-mobile worker, while only 55% of non-mobile workers said they were happier than being mobile.

Summary and Conclusion

As we continue in the midst of the digital revolution, mobile technology, such as tablets and smartphones, continue to evolve and impact on how businesses are run. As a result, an increasing number of companies are continually discovering the benefits of going mobile and employees are becoming increasingly tech savvy when doing so too.

The construction sector is seemingly ahead of the curve compared to other industries when it comes to being mobile. Perhaps this is because it is the nature of the job, whereas the non-mobile working sector tends to be much more office-based. However, the construction sector is also becoming much more digitally engaged and tradespeople are utilising technology to effectively communicate and collaborate with employees and clients, as well as advance their own productivity and job performance.

Mobile working also seems to have a positive effect on an employee's happiness as they appreciate the independence, flexibility and benefits it brings. It's great to see that so many tradespeople are happy in their jobs, an impressive 29% more content than the average non-mobile worker.

Although implementing mobile working and new technology into a business does not come without its challenges, what this research shows is that the rewards can be well worth it. Not only can it help to improve productivity and drive efficiencies, it also has a positive impact on an employee's happiness. For those that have not yet made the leap, it is well worth investigating mobile working and the types of technology most applicable to the business to see if it can help to drive efficiency and boost the company's bottom line.

"As we spend so much of our life working, it's encouraging to see that so many tradespeople enjoy their job. It seems that mobile working plays a major part of their happiness because it offers numerous benefits, particularly around productivity and flexibility."

Wayne Lysaght-Mason Managing Director at IronmongeryDirect