According to a new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), the U.S. mobile worker population will grow at a steady rate over the next four years, increasing from 78.5 million in 2020 to 93.5 million mobile workers in 2024. By the end of the forecast period, IDC expects mobile workers will account for nearly 60% of the total U.S. workforce.
“COVID-19’s disruption of the U.S. labor force has had a dramatic impact on how large businesses operate and will continue to shape how and where people work in the months to come, the ability to quickly mobilize different segments of a company’s workforce with capable and secure mobile solutions has never been more important, and U.S. organizations are signaling that investment in mobile-based management and security solutions will take precedence in 2020 and beyond.
IDC defines mobile workers as workers who are enabled with mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) by their company to complete their assigned tasks and workflows. The mobile worker population is segmented into two core categories: information mobile workers and frontline mobile workers.
Information Mobile Worker: A knowledge or office worker who typically works from a single location, has dedicated computing resources, and tends to create, transform, and distribute data and/or content using productivity and enterprise applications. Examples include programmers, business analysts, marketing specialist, researchers, billing clerks, lawyers, accountants. This category of mobile worker includes those who may also be physically mobile during their workday, including mobile professionals, occasionally mobile workers, and mobile non-travelers.
Frontline Mobile Worker: A worker who performs client-facing or operational activities onsite or in the field that require distributed, mobile access to data, content, applications, and workflows. Examples include store associate, nurse, lab technician, construction worker, field service worker, and hospitality worker. The two primary types of mobile frontline workers are mobile field workers and mobile on-location workers.
Frontline workers currently make up the majority of workers in the United States, accounting for 57% of the total U.S. worker population. However, in 2020, only 49% of frontline workers are currently enabled with mobile devices, compared with 55% of information workers. And the number of frontline workers in the U.S. will see little growth over the next several years as the industries that rely most on these workers (accommodation and food service, government, retail, healthcare, and construction) recover from the impact of the pandemic.
Meanwhile the number of information workers is expected to see accelerated growth over the next 12-18 months, largely because this segment has been much less susceptible to the immediate effects of the pandemic. The number of information mobile workers will also grow due to an expansion in remote and work-from-home workers in the wake of COVID-19. IDC defines this sub-category as workers who are typically an information worker and works at a home office during normal business hours. The threshold for remote and work-from-home workers is three or more days per week, although some remote workers may spend no time in traditional offices (in effect, they are working from home full time).
The remote and work-from-home sub-category is crucial because working from home will be much more prevalent in the future. A recent IDC survey found that 87% of U.S. enterprises expect their employees to continue working from home three or more days per week once mandatory closures are lifted, and 90% of enterprises think it is likely more of their workers will work from home in the future.