The Cisco study was carried out by occupational psychology specialists at Pearn Kandola, and claims to reveal the dominant personality characteristics of effective mobile workers and the cultural influences on mobile working.
"As the mobile working phenomenon continues to grow, organisations must ensure that they have suitable leadership in place to manage teams of mobile workers," said Stuart Duff, author of the report.
"Managers must not fall into the trap of treating mobile workers in the same way as office-based employees.
"Organisations must also ensure that the right tools and resources are made available to mobile workers, giving them the same connectivity as office-based workers."
The study identified the best mobile workers as self-motivated, resilient, extrovert and independent, which it breaks down into the following personality profiles:
- Stimulation Seeker: extroverted, motivated by contact with people
- Tough Survivors: emotionally stable, low levels of neuroticism, resilient under pressure
- Curious Explorers: creative, open to new ideas, enjoys variety of experience
- Independent Decision Makers: maintains independent mindset, appreciates being trusted to work without supervision
- Disciplined Achievers: conscientious and self-motivated
Managers of these teams face a tough balance because too little interaction can leave workers feeling abandoned or isolated, but too much can make them feel distrusted and micromanaged.
Employers are also encouraged to bear this mind when recruiting for roles that will entail mobile working.
A successful manager needs to trust their mobile teams, enable them to manage their own workload and emphasise deliverables rather than activities.
Managers must also play their part in establishing a mobile work ethic within their organisation, and recognise the importance of regular communication with mobile workers.
"This study highlights the need for businesses to address a number of issues in order to make their mobile workforce as productive as possible," said Clive Sawkins, director of unified communications at Cisco.
"Making sure that mobile workers are suitably equipped with appropriate communications technology is important.
"Organisations must also focus on developing skilled managers, selecting the right candidates and providing the right resources and support to create a successful mobile workforce."
There is also a significant geographical and cultural element to mobile working, with varying social and professional expectations and the vast differences in technological infrastructure available in different regions.
The report concludes that, as mobile working continues to grow, all businesses, and large international companies in particular, must adapt and offer a range of options to workers based on a wide variety of factors, rather than a blanket approach that may suit only a small percentage.
- Cisco Report: Understanding and Managing the Mobile Workforce (PDF)