What German companies need to do to make the mobile workplace a reality

According to the 2017/2018 D21 digital index survey, mobile working has been slow to take hold in German companies. The reasons for this are more to do with the infrastructure of the companies than with any skepticism on the part of the employees. So, how can this be improved? Oliver Schorer (CIO) shows five areas that German companies need to consider.

Businesses must allow employees to participate in the digital revolution.

The digitalization of trade and industry and people’s digital expertise are evolving in parallel universes. On the one hand, businesses are implementing comprehensive digital strategies with regard to their products and processes. On the other, the findings of the current D21 digital index survey demonstrate once again that employees are more likely to acquire digital skills outside of work. It is up to companies to bring these two divergent paths together. One way of achieving this is to give employees access to infrastructure and devices such as smartphones and tablets – for both work and personal use.


Companies need to rethink usage concepts for the mobile workplace.

The idea of combining user’s work-related and personal digital activities is not new, of course, but existing usage concepts have failed so far. ‘Bring Your Own Device’ does not work, either in terms of cost or of content. However, COPE – corporate owned, personally enabled – promises to be more successful. It gives the company greater control, especially in terms of data security and data protection, and allows employees to use their preferred device. The prerequisite is comprehensive centralized management of the company’s entire device inventory.  


Employees must have a say when it comes to the mobile workplace.

If users love iPhones, but only receive Android devices from their employer (or vice versa), then they are unlikely to use those devices creatively and to their fullest capabilities. A key factor in employees’ willingness to adapt to the growing use of digital technology is that they have a say in shaping the mobile workplace. Self-service concepts for selecting mobile devices and services offer a practical solution.  


Mobile workplaces must become a standard option for employees.

According to the 2017/2018 digital index survey, German employees are no longer reluctant to work remotely, but in most companies they are either unable to, or are subject to severe restrictions. Only 16 percent of employees are currently able to work remotely (30 percent for office workers). In 74 percent of companies surveyed, remote working is possible in principle, but it is not put into practice. This demonstrates that a change of strategy and culture is necessary – the mobile workplace must become the norm, not the exception. And this is only possible with the support of senior management.  


The mobile workplace must be financially sustainable.

The mobile workplace is neither an end in itself, nor does it take care of itself. Far from it – costs can easily escalate, particularly in an international environment where the infrastructure and the end-to-end management of functionality, security, and efficiency present real challenges. The question of ‘make or buy’ must be answered right at the start. Companies that lack the internal resources to strategically manage the mobile workplace will often benefit from using an external provider.


CHG-MERIDIAN is a partner of the 2017/2018 D21 Digital Index. The study can be downloaded from the website of the D21 initiative (



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