In a tough economy where companies are reducing their workforce, businesses need to adopt remote working to help retain the rest of their skilled employees, IDC has said.

Lars Vestergaard, research director at the analyst house, said that employers need to “think properly” about retaining workers, within the context of a growing demand to work from home or work more flexibly.

Businesses needed to develop mobile working “as a part of their unified communications strategy, he said, speaking yesterday at the IDC Unified Communications and Collaboration Conference in London.

Younger staff are particularly demanding when it comes to mobile working, he warned. “Consumerisation is here, it’s pushing the change, so get used to it,” he said. “People are getting more and more power.”

Employers were still highly fearful of flexible working, he said. “Bosses want to know: How do I know my mobile workers are actually working? What’s in it for me as a manager to have the boundaries disappear? Will ideas suffer?”

The answer is in meeting the issue head-on, and setting the right policies with the right technology, he said. “You need the right structure and to understand the demands, then you’ll get the benefits.”

A real discussion was needed between the chief executive, chief information officer and chief financial officer, he said.

The UK is ahead in mobile working, with 32 percent of firms allowing it to some degree, compared to 15 per cent in Europe, IDC figures showed. But 28 per cent of British businesses still see mobility as “not important” or “not very important”.

IDC identified that after 2011, the Google Android system will have matured and be one of the main players in the market. Until then, it singled out BT and Vodafone as also offering a strong strategy from a supplier perspective.