Mobile and The Convergence of Personal and Work Life

While breaking bread with a Box employee, Chris, last night, I had a revelation. Historically I’ve really only consider three types of workers that need a complete set of business tools on their mobile device.

  • Road Warriors: These people are never at their desk. Even if they don’t travel, they are always running between meetings at various locations.
  • Silicon Valley: Mobile is cool, we are cool, we have to use mobile. Doesn’t everyone use it?
  • Mobile Cult: They don’t live or work in Silicon Valley but they want to be that cool. Not only do they like to use their mobile device while at their desk, they carry it everywhere to show people. Have you seen their cool light saber app?

The point being that for the everyday worker, mobile computing was for our personal lives. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, books, games, and anything else to keep us entertained. Mobile work consisted mostly of emails and taking pictures of whiteboards.

The thing is, a funny thing has happened during the mobile revolution, our personal and work lives started to blur together into a single existence.

The Light Bulb

imageSo Chris told me the story of when he finally understood the mobile worker story. He was stuck in traffic on the DC beltway when he got a phone call. Someone was emailing a document that needed to be filled-in, signed, and faxed(!?!) by 4pm. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem except that he was “parked” on the highway.

Chris pulled over, retrieved the form and uploaded it into Box. He then used apps that are integrated with Box through the OneCloud platform to fill out the form and sign it. He then faxed it from his device.

The whole process took him ~10 minutes. Plenty of time to rejoin traffic.

All well and good, Chris is a “road warrior”, always running from meeting to meeting. Then it hit me, we all are.

Real Work Hours

I think I was open to the idea because this week I’ve been dealing with house issues and have had to completely shake-up my work hours. This shake-up wasn’t a problem because I was able to be responsive to people during the day and could get chunks of work done at night.

imageThen I realized, it could have been anyone stuck in that traffic.

  • An office manager heading home early to coach soccer practice.
  • A financial analyst who heading to a dentist appointment.
  • A vice president returning from a lunch with an old colleague across town.
  • A project manager chaperoning their kids school field trip and wishing for Tylenol.

These people don’t fit any of the three stereotypes above but they could easily have been in that situation.

All knowledge workers and information professionals are blurring the traditional lines between work and home. A strict 9 to 5 scheduled shifted to core hours from 10 to 4 and is slowly transitioning into just getting things done.  In exchange for the daytime flexibility to deal with things outside of work, people need the tools to respond to work items when they aren’t at their computer.

THAT is the story of mobile computing. THAT is why it matters.

Mobile Matters but Isn’t Everything

I still posit that people still need their computers for significant content creation. I still haven’t seen anyone that could type as well on a mobile device as I do on a computer. Even at this year’s AIIM conference, Ray Wang was typing on his laptop to tweet before and after he talked about the power of mobile.

With flexible work hours comes the need for flexible work tools. That is mobile’s future and that is the future of work.

(written on a laptop)

5 thoughts on “Mobile and The Convergence of Personal and Work Life

  1. Martin Estrada says:

    This hits the nail on the head. Knowledge workers are paid to think. They should be able to take some kind of action any time they have a thought. (A bit extreme, yes, but so are our lives these days.)


  2. I agree. Mobility matters. Everything from the harried parent running kids from place to place to the busy office worker needing to retrieve, review, sign and re-send documents. Which oftentimes might be the same person these days. The ability to get things done any place, any time and on any device is here. Ironically, this is not new. This is what Bill Gates said about 15 years ago.

    One example of the pending paperless office. A friend bought a house recently … they never touched a piece of paper. 100% of the transaction was online and used a digital signature tool (DocuSign) for everything.

    Also, i completely agree with you about using a computer to create content. I wrote a blog a few weeks ago that my iPad was not going to replace my laptop any time soon. Not because I don’t like my iPad. I love it. But because the ability to create content is just not there for the iPad … yet! At least not for the way i want to work … it’s not there yet. For others it’s seems to be just fine. To which I say … great, good for you. here’s the link if you want to take a look and add you two cents link:


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