Conceptual background

This project focused on the new ways of combining work and life with the help of new intelligent transport system services and new concepts for supporting sustainable commuting. Globalisation, technology development and environmental issues have increased the use of new types of work arrangements, such as dispersed and flexible mobile work, increasing also the number of locations from which knowledge-intensive work can be performed (Andriessen & Vartiainen, 2006; Eurofound 2015). A significant portion of work takes place in mobile settings; i.e., it is often not restricted to any one location (Vartiainen et al., 2007). This means that local infrastructures and services need to be considered from the viewpoint of dispersed and flexible mobile work (Huning et al., 2012). Also, the mobility of workers brings along the increase in CO2 emissions, if low emission transport services are not available.

The mobility of the workforce is continually increasing. Eurofound study (2012) showed that a quarter of the European workers are e-nomads – people who do not work all the time at their employers’ or their own business premises and habitually use computers, the internet or email for professional purposes. The incidence of e-nomads varies considerably among countries, ranging from just above 5% in Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey to more than 40% in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, and 45% in Finland. Similarly, Eurofound and the International Labour Office (2017) in their study on telework/ICT-mobile work (T/ICTM)[1] report that the incidence of T/ICTM varies substantially, from 2% to 40% of employees, depending on the country, occupation, industry and the frequency with which employees engage in this type of work. Across the EU28, an average of about 17% of employees are engaged in T/ICTM. In most countries, larger proportions of workers carry out T/ICTM occasionally rather than on a regular basis. T/ICTM is more common among professionals and managers but is also significant among clerical support and sales workers. In relation to gender, in general, men are more likely to perform T/ICTM than women. However, women carry out more regular home-based telework than men. This suggests that country-specific gender roles and models of work and family life play a role in shaping T/ICTM.

The trends in mobility have several consequences. Studies have found that prolonged commuting times decrease the productivity of work (e.g., Ommeren & Gutierrez Puigarnau, 2011). The duration of commute is influenced by a large number of factors, such as the income of the residents of the central city (Shen, 2000) and the quality and the cost of living. However, the journey to work plays only a limited role in residential location choices (Giuliano & Small, 1993). In addition to commuting, the nature of work may require extensive travelling. One study (Koroma et al., 2014) shows that the change of physical locations results in continuous searching for a place to work and remaining socially as an outsider in all work communities including the main office. Limited connections in the locations used for work seem to be the main challenges of increased mobility despite the recent developments in communication technology.

The quality of travel time, especially in commuting, is also changing and might do more so in the near future. Telecommunications technologies and services provide options to work on the go, which leads to different perception and acceptance of commuting times. This increases the demand for equipment and also the importance of qualitative aspects of transport services. In return, a greater supply of supporting (and entertaining) equipment during travel will have an impact on behaviour.

This project explored this increased mobility and its relationship with sustainable and intelligent transport system services. Due to the above-described trends, the value and the use of travel time will change, which in turn will affect mobility, travel, and working behaviour. These trends need to be taken into account when designing new solutions and services for mobile workers.

There is an increasing number of operators and companies offering Mobility as a Service (MaaS). Although these companies with networked business models have already established themselves, the appropriateness and applicability of these new services and business models in enhancing mobile work still need to be evaluated. Thus in addition to helping design new solutions, the objective of this project was to identify the needs of mobile workers, how they are changing due to above-mentioned trends, and envision evaluation methods for matching the changing needs of mobile workers with the value propositions of different mobility concepts.

Next: Current and future needs of mobile workers

[1] T/ICTM is defined as the use of ICT – such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers – for the purposes of work outside the employer’s premises.


Andriessen, J. H. & Vartiainen, M. (eds.) (2006). Mobile virtual work. A new paradigm? Berlin: Springer.

Eurofound (2012). Fifth European Working Conditions Survey, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

Eurofound (2015). New forms of employment, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

Eurofound and the International Labour Office (2017). Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, and the International Labour Office, Geneva.

Giuliano, G. & Small, K. A. (1993). Is the journey to work explained by urban structure? Urban Studies, 30(9), 1485-1500.

Huning, S., Bens, O., & Hüttl, R. F. (2012). Demographic change beyond the urban-rural divide: Reframing spatial differentiation in the context of migration flows and social networks. DIE ERDE–Journal of the Geographical Society of Berlin, 143(1-2), 153-172.

IDC (2011). Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2011-2015 Forecast. International Data Corporation.

Koroma, J., Hyrkkänen, U. & Vartiainen, M. (2014). Looking for people, places and connections: Hindrances when working in multiple locations – a review. New Technology, Work and Employment, 29(2), 139-159.

Ommeren, J.N. van & Gutierrez Puigarnau, E. (2011). Are workers with a long commute less productive? An empirical analysis of absenteeism. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 41(1), 1-8.

Shen, Q. (2000). Spatial and social dimensions of commuting. Journal of the American Planning Association, 66(1), 68-82.

Vartiainen, M., Hakonen, M., Koivisto, S., Mannonen, P., Nieminen, M.P., Ruohomäki, V. & Vartola, A. (2007). Distributed and mobile work – Places, people and technology. Tampere: Otatieto.

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