Modern Life

Equipping the “untethered” employee

As more and more workers go mobile, new technology is powering them anywhere, anytime and looks great on the go.

By Garage Staff — September 18, 2019

Three years ago, Sabrina Deja left her job as a microbiologist in a lab in Indiana for a position at a Maryland-based biotech company — no relocation required. As a field applications specialist, Deja travels three to six days almost every week, working from wherever she is. When she’s not traveling, she works comfortably from home. 

“I look forward to working from home or taking off on that next flight,” she says. “I don’t have to worry about being tired, because I can start my day a little bit later if I need to.” 

Deja is part of a growing trend toward a more flexible, mobile workstyle that’s spreading beyond freelancers and business travelers. Lighter, more versatile devices and advances in connectivity and security mean more employees across industries are breaking free from their desks, leading the way toward a more mobile future for everyone. Deloitte analysts estimate that within the next decade, the majority of employees will be untethered from their office desks, working from anywhere at any time. 

“Remote work is definitely more than a trend,” says Alexandra Levit, a workplace consultant and author of Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future. “It’s now a way of life.”

Courtesy of HP

Mobile workers need their tech to work double duty — powerful and secure enough to meet company requirements, with a sleek, standout style.

A mobile revolution

A study this year by Upwork predicts that 73% of companies will have remote workers by 2028. As younger generations begin to take on more managerial positions, they’re bringing an openness to remote working policies with them, building more remote teams, and encouraging more autonomy among their employees. In the Upwork study, 69% of younger-generation managers said they allow team members to work remotely, compared with 58% of managers in the Boomer generation. As Generation Z enters the workforce, they’re seeing remote work as the norm, with flexibility and work-life harmony enabled by technology.

Fitting into that way of life means equipping employees with the devices they need to work productively and securely on the go. To stay competitive, employers are not only allowing employees to untether from their desks and the physical office, they’re helping to make it possible — offering remote access to internal systems, establishing partnerships with co-working spaces like WeWork, and providing technology designed for mobile work.

“Organizations will only become more receptive to different workforce structures and individual managers will customize arrangements specific to single employees,” says Levit. “Any company that insists on a traditional 9-to-5 schedule is going to be left behind in terms of its ability to recruit and retain top talent.”

Eleni Cotsis, talent acquisition manager at ALICE, a hospitality tech firm, says that hiring an international team across multiple locations has been one of the biggest drivers behind the company’s success. 

“We’re able to be more competitive as an employer and are able to find the best talent because [the job] doesn’t need to be physically in New York,” Costis says. “It also helps us serve our customers better. We have engineers in 14 different time zones working literally around the clock making our product stronger.”

“Remote work is definitely more than a trend. It’s now a way of life.”

—Alexandra Levit, workplace consultant and author

What a worker needs today

So what does the modern mobile employee need? A laptop, a smartphone, a speedy internet connection, cloud-based collaboration, security — and technology that fits their personal style, whether they’re working in a hotel lobby on an international trip or their neighborhood coffee shop.

The mobile workstyle means communicating via video calls, collaborating using apps such as Slack and Zoom, and coordinating with far-flung team members through project management platforms like Basecamp. But for this arrangement to work, remote employees need a reliable, secure connection to the internet at all times — something you can’t always find at a coffee shop.

To address this challenge, many professionals connect their laptop to the internet by making their smartphone a mobile hotspot — a method that rapidly drains the phone battery and often requires carrying around an extra cable. 

HP’s newest premium convertible laptop for business, the HP Elite Dragonfly offers an easier way, allowing mobile workers to connect directly, reliably, and securely with embedded 4G LTE connectivity — no need for an extra device. HP Noise Cancellation and a quieter keyboard help mobile employees hear more clearly in noisy public places and be less disruptive during video conferencing e calls (no more loud keyboard clicks).

Courtesy of HP

At under 2.2 pounds, the HP Elite Dragonfly is the world's lightest compact business convertible, with the ability to transform instantly from PC to tablet for mobile work or presentations.

Professional design, personal style

Employees who work away from the office are often working in public or in front of clients, and they want their technology to fit their personal aesthetic. They may want to use their own personal devices for work or request more consumer-style devices from their IT departments. 

“The problem with the personal consumer devices many employees want to use is that they don’t have the enterprise-level security employers require,” says Caleb Fleming, premium new product introduction lead at HP.

Fleming says the shift to a mobile workstyle informed the HP Elite Dragonfly’s design inside and out. “It’s light and sleek, and also durable and secure,” he says. “Essentially, it’s a device that meets corporate standards but doesn’t look like a corporate device.”

Starting at under 2.2 pounds, the HP Elite Dragonfly lightens the load for employees working on the move. Its up to 24.5 hours of battery life gives them the reliability they need as they move from location to location, and its 1,000 nit screen makes it possible to work in extremely bright light. The HP Elite Dragonfly’s clean, modern design is available in a unique, iridescent blue that stands out in any sales meeting or trendy co-working space, and also hits a sustainability milestone as the world's first notebook containing ocean bound plastic, which is what the speaker is made from.

Staying secure away from the office

While employees are looking for power and style — their employers and IT departments need to know mobile professionals are working securely, without exposing their companies to potential data breaches. More than half of company IT leaders suspect their mobile workers have been hacked or caused a mobile security issue, and 94% believe employees using personal devices for work have increased mobile security risks, according to a 2018 report from the mobile technology firm iPass.

Working over a public connection at an airport, hotel, or café means being exposed to unsecure connections, posing a real risk to an employee's device and the sensitive data stored within, while working in such open areas or on a plane or train means screens are vulnerable to prying eyes.

To discourage others from snooping, the HP Elite Dragonfly features HP Sure View Gen3, an integrated privacy feature that obscures the screen for anyone viewing from an angle. The built-in HP Privacy Camera allows users to physically cover their webcam to protect their privacy.

Secure printing is another challenge for mobile professionals who can’t always count on a printer being nearby, and printing documents in public spaces can create confidentiality risks. With HP Roam for Business, mobile workers can send documents safely to print at their office headquarters or any HP Roam-enabled printer over a secure server. The cloud-based service allows mobile employees to submit print jobs from any computer or their mobile device, and then use their mobile device to authenticate and release the print job once the employee is physically present at the printer to receive it.

Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

With HP Roam for Business, employees can use their smartphones to print from wherever they are.

A more mobile, more productive future 

Both employers and employees have a lot to gain from the shift to more mobility and flexibility. On the practical side, employers actually save money when their physical office space needs to hold fewer people. Levit adds that employers also tend to get more value from employees who no longer spend time commuting and have the freedom to work when they’re most productive.

Employees who consider their employers to be pioneers in providing mobile technology scored themselves 16% higher for productivity, 23% higher for satisfaction, and 21% higher for loyalty than employees without good mobile technology support, according to a study from the Economist Intelligence Unit and Aruba, a Hewlett-Packard Enterprise company. And, as more employers and employees realize the benefits of mobile work, technological advances will continue to improve their experience.

“I can start as early or work as late as I want or need to, as long as I work my 40 hours,” Deja says. “I don’t dread Mondays or even the work week because of the flexibility with my schedule. I literally wouldn’t trade this job for anything.”