4G and the business traveller: Out of Office is out of date

by William Buller, Mobility Consultant at Telefónica UK

Some years ago, I was flying around the globe on business trips. At the time, I would set my Out of Office message to say ‘I am away from my desk and will be un-contactable.’ Everyone did the same and it was very common to be told that senior executives were away and would deal with things when they returned.

But today, things have changed. Although I welcome the chance to switch my smartphone off when I go on holiday, when I’m away on business I have to be able to respond wherever and whenever. It’s also no longer good enough to just take calls and exchange texts, I get asked to review documents, join online meetings and update systems. This may sound like a hassle, but I like solving  problems quickly so they aren’t waiting for me when I  return to the office, or in the evening.

Like many mobile workers, I am equipped with devices that let me to do all these things and more. I am so used to seeing people sitting in coffee shops and hotel lobbies using free wifi to catch up on work, it seems as if they are the only ones there. Does anyone just go in for coffee anymore?

Outside of the coffee shop wifi, is where 4G comes in. I have held Lync meetings from my (parked) car, in an airport terminal and walking from one office to another. I have downloaded reports at customer sites and during meetings without having to connect to corporate wifi networks.

Being connected is like having my office with me at all times. 4G allows me to spend my time where it is most needed; with customers, partners and colleagues regardless of where they are based. And in my job I speak to many customers who work, or want to, in the same way. Executives can manage meetings, social workers can review records, surveyors can approve building designs, estate agents can create floorplans and train engineers can fill in incident reports all on the go.

Recently, I was onsite with an O2 Business customer to help repair some equipment. Not only was the request received using 4G, but the asset register was also updated and the case was closed, enabling the call centre to report back that the service level agreement was successfully met. The engineer also booked parking and submitted expenses using apps on a smartphone – quick, accurate and paperless.

For the business traveller, 4G is the key to mobile connectivity. By the end of 2017, O2’s 4G network will provide indoor coverage for at least 98% of the UK population[1] and Out of Office will become an outdated term.

Download our YouGov research to see how 4G is saving UK organisations 9.4 million working hours.

[1] http://media.ofcom.org.uk/news/2013/winners-of-the-4g-mobile-auction/