Crossing the Digital Divide – The Future of Work

— Submitted by Laurie Riedman, Xerox public relations consultant

It’s no surprise to any of us that the world is going mobile.   According to an IDC study by the close of 2011 75% of the U.S. and 80 % of Japan’s workforce will be mobile workers who use the latest technology to essentially work effectively from almost anywhere.   What technology will help them be more efficient and productive?  Xerox wanted to know.

future of work mobile worker

This led to a study of “The Future of Work” where Xerox ethnographers like Jennifer Watts-Perotti (pictured above with one of the participants) and Mary Ann Sprague studied a group of non-traditional, virtual workers observing how they used technology, collaborated with co-workers and integrated work and personal life. (Full disclosure — as an independent consultant for Xerox who works from a home office — I was actually one of the participants.  Yes, it was interesting to be ‘studied’ for a good part of a day – but that’s fodder for another post)

You can check out The Future of Work study finding – but contrary to what you might believe – mobile workers do use paper more than you might think – often because it helps them make up for the technology gaps that exist.    Study participants were observed still using lots of paper (notes, printing documents to read and edit)  and often were  frustrated by lacking the technology to help them easily merge their paper and digital worlds.

I, as well as many study participants, shared frustration around how impossible it is to easily access the same material from my many mobile devices including my laptop and Smartphone.  What’s with that? You’d think it should be easier!

Xerox will continue to study mobile workers to shape future offerings.     Are you a mobile worker?  What would help you be more productive?  Drop us a comment and we’ll pass it along to our ethnographers.  Who knows, you may spur a new future Xerox product or service!

You can listen to ethnographer Mary Ann Sprague  talk about the study.

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  1. R Foltman March 3, 2010 - Reply

    Not only is there a change in paradigms from paper to electronic but the paper still is a fast means of sharing info quickly with people as well as a way to multitask with “virtual” paper screens when you don’t have multiple large screens to use and share…

  2. Laurie Riedman March 4, 2010 - Reply

    Great point! I’m not one of those folks that have multiple screens on my desk either — but as for paper — well that’s another story. (My husband says I use the “absent minded professor” way of filing — i.e. I have tons of piles of documents on my desk — and on the floor sometimes…. )

    I am — like many of us I suspect — a major multitasker. What I need is technology that would make it easier to navigate between my “digital and paper worlds”. Knowing the smart scientists and researchers that are working on this problem at Xerox — I’m sure they’ll come up with the tools we need to cross that digital divide. Thanks for the comment!

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