The Hierarchy of Mobile Workers' Needs

By Sam Morris, Director of Product Marketing, Attachmate — August 03, 2014

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is considered an established framework outlining the way we think, interact and survive. It's structured as a pyramid, with our most fundamental human needs at the bottom (Physiological: food, water, shelter, warmth).

According to Maslow, once those needs have been met we seek to fulfill the next layer of the pyramid (Safety: Security, stability, freedom from fear). Once the needs at the second level have been met we can advance to the third (belonging), and so on (self-esteem and self-actualization).

A witty social media user recently added a new layer to the bottom of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, right below the basic needs for survival such as food and water – Wi-Fi.

While Wi-Fi isn't actually more vital than physiological needs like food, water and sleep, it has become an essential part of everyday life in our technology-driven world.

Wi-Fi allows us to browse our favorite websites, check our email, and be productive both in the office and offsite. People access Wi-Fi on their tablets and mobile devices so they can get work done on the go, but this is only the first step on the path to achieving full mobile productivity.

Mobile Worker Needs
A parallel can be drawn between Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and the mobile worker's hierarchy of productivity needs. As in Maslow's hierarchy, there are layers of needs that must be met before mobile workers can reach true mobile productivity.

The fundamental layer of the mobile worker's pyramid is voice and data (and Wi-Fi) so they can reach out and be reachable on the go. Once this basic need is met, workers are able to seek their next need: accessing their email and calendar. Third on the mobile productivity hierarchy list is the ability to browse the web.

From there we enter the top half of the pyramid, the last mile to full mobile productivity.

Top Layer
The fourth layer of the pyramid is meeting workers' file sync-and-share needs so they can update documents and stay in the loop on projects from wherever they are. Next is the ability to print. This may seem like a strange requirement for mobile workers, but according to many sources it is the most commonly requested PC-like feature for mobile users.

At the top of the pyramid is secure access to enterprise applications. Once this level has been reached many workers will be able to achieve full mobile productivity on their tablet or mobile device.

So how can IT departments meet employees' mobile needs?

The most important thing for IT to keep in mind is that they need to provide the right mobile productivity apps and tools. End users have plenty of options and if IT doesn't provide the right tools, workers will resort to less-secure options outside the enterprise to meet their needs.

In order to prevent workers from putting your company at risk as they climb their way to the top of the pyramid, IT needs to provide a solution that has everything that popular consumer options, such as Dropbox and Box, offer. This includes the ability to access files from any location on any device, seamless integration between desktops and other devices, the ability to sync files of any type or size, and easy file or folder sharing capabilities.

Here's the tricky part: In addition to providing the right user capabilities, IT needs to maintain their existing security and management capabilities. Providing a seamless file-sync-and-share solution is only half the battle. The solution must include control and management of sensitive files, and it must ensure that network-based files stay on files servers and don’t get copied to the cloud.

Luckily, there are solutions out there that can help workers achieve full mobile productivity while keeping the enterprise secure. The key is taking it one level at a time until you reach the top of the pyramid.   

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