SMEs throughout the UK are increasingly likely to see their workforce as ‘mobile’ – but more mobility does not necessarily increase productivity.

According to a quarterly survey of owners and senior management, 42 per cent now class their workforce this way.

Ian McVicar, CEO of Close Brothers Technology Services who conducted the poll, said it’s becoming increasingly easy for workers to remain connected with the office as mobile technology develops.

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Although mobility brings a number of advantages, he added: “There isn’t necessarily the implied expectation that mobility is a tool to increase productivity.

“Being mobile is not the perk that perhaps it was in the past, meaning it doesn’t come with the implicit expectations that it used to.

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“It’s important to strike a note of caution because along with the upsides of mobility, there comes a number of crucial challenges, the most critical of which is security.

“UK firms do not see better online security as a priority - according to our research, 63% of companies have made the decision not to invest in better online security in the next 12 months.

“The truth is, businesses of all sizes should be aware of their responsibility when it comes to online security, but we’re finding that this message is perhaps not getting through as clearly as it could, with nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents saying that mobile security is not a concern for their business, with only 27 per cent of the opinion that it is.

“This is surprising considering the number of high-profile data breaches that have received extensive coverage in the mainstream media.”

According to the report, planned levels of investment in mobility during 2017 are low, with only 15 per cent of businesses intending to do so.

Sean Callanan, director of technology and services at Close Brothers, said: “Many businesses will already feel they’ve invested significantly in mobility, so these results should not come as a surprise.

 “What you are likely to see, though, is businesses dedicating more and more of their IT spend to keeping their workforce both mobile and safe.

“What we are starting to see is a move towards alternative ways of acquiring hardware, including a move away from mobile network operators for their hardware to other sources, including leasing.

“This gives them more flexibility to, for example, make changes without being tied into long-term contracts.

“We’re seeing this trend within our own business as well as with our customers.”

To help businesses better understand mobility, Close Brothers Technology Services has released a vendor spotlight – in association with IDC – 'Making sure that mobility works for your business'.