Remote working is changing how we are using our mobile devices 

Smart phone usage is up 45% since the start of the pandemic.
Image: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

Today, more people worldwide own a cell phone than a toothbrush. While personal phone usage has been on the incline for some time, the rise of remote work is seeing more people use their personal devices to handle their work tasks instead of traditional computers.

According to a 2021 report by Ericsson, implementation of remote working in South Africa has increased by 66%, while a GlobalWebIndex report³ highlights that since the advent of Covid-19, Smartphone use is about 45% above normal levels. Interestingly, one study⁴ in the US found that millennials are spending more time on their mobile devices per day (3.7 hours) than Gen Z’s (3 hours), which could be indicative of more young professionals using their mobile devices to complete work tasks while on-the-go.

There is a need for on-the-go connectivity that is becoming an entrenched part of our new ‘workplace’ normal. Taking zoom meetings on your phone (while in your car!), having instant access to your emails and google calendar, handling work tasks over WhatsApp; remote working is changing how we use our mobile devices and will continue to do so in 2022 and beyond.

Having recently studied our user data over this past year, we has found that the majority of our users are young urban professionals and university students. According to our data, users aged between 18 and 34 years old are renting out power banks to charge their phones out of home or office up to 30 times a month — an average of once a day.

What this tells us is that that people demand constant mobile connectivity now more than ever. With more companies opting for their employees to work remotely, there is no reason for workers to be tied to a desk if they can still be productive while ‘out-of-the-office’. If our data is anything to go by, the 18–34-year age group can’t go more than a few hours without needing to recharge a completely battery-dead phone.

The ‘always-on’ culture is particularly popular amongst professional ‘freelancers,’ and their mobile devices have become an indispensable tool for how they get their work done.

One Cape Town-based freelance writer and entertainment producer, Estelle Terblanche says “I rely on my mobile phone for most of my work tasks these days, especially when I’m running around doing various work errands. It’s super useful for when I don’t have my laptop with me but have a moment to sit down and answer emails or follow up on work requests.”

Students rely on smartphones to plug into lectures 

Students have also been exposed to their own form of remote working during the pandemic, as they have been expected to stay connected via virtual lectures. While this has been a manageable task for some, for others it’s been a little more challenging, especially for students who don’t have round-the-clock access to a computer.

“ I don’t always have access to a computer, so I need to use my mobile phone to plug into live lectures as well as get my assignments in on time. Finding free Wi-Fi zones and making sure I have enough phone power has been the only way I’ve been able to listen to a lot of my lectures,” says third-year Damelin student, Gugulethu Shumi.

Exciting times for mobile innovation 

The functionality of smartphones today, while impressive and always evolving, still has some way to go in terms of meeting user needs with battery power capability. We will continue to demand even more from our phones, and it’s going to be very exciting to watch not only how our phone habits grow and change, but how the mobile market adapts to changing user behaviour and accommodates with innovative solutions. It’s that thinking that gave birth to letting our consumers rent the power banks for 48 hours, a solution that is on the go and available where you are.

Digital savvy youth are the fastest-growing population in Sub-Saharan Africa, with reports showing that by 2025, the new normal in South Africa will see an increased dependency on online activities for daily tasks.

Kegan Peffer is CEO of Adoozy.

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