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06 Jun 2022 | 09:00

Could rugged mobile devices make your workforce more productive?

There are millions of mobile workers in the UK, and their effectiveness underpins the success of many enterprises, not to mention the nation’s economy. However, as research from Deloitte shows, the UK’s mobile workforce often suffers from a lack of dedicated mobile workforce technology, and UK businesses are paying the price.

In this post we’ll explore the advantages of using a rugged device for mobile workers, such as a rugged tablet or mobile computer, and how this provides tangible gains for staff and organisations alike.

The demands placed upon mobile devices used for work and those used for domestic/consumer purposes are very different, but that doesn’t stop many businesses from purchasing standard-issue mobile devices for their workforce.  Often, this is for understandable reasons  – notably, the apparent cost –  but the numbers involved can be deceptive. 

Our recent whitepaper with Panasonic, Time to Do More: How rugged mobile computing can free the workforce (which you can download here) reveals that several of the features that can be found in rugged mobile devices make them superior to consumer models for work use. What’s more, these features can save time and money, potentially more than offsetting the cost differential. 


It’s important to remember that a rugged tablet, notebook, or smartphone is not just rugged in terms of resisting damage inflicted by dropping or knocking.

In many cases, the word ‘rugged’ denotes a commitment to work-focused functionality that is intentionally designed into all aspects of the product. For example:


Every device failure and need for repair costs money; not only in terms of maintenance costs but also lost productivity, loss of customer goodwill due to rescheduled appointments, and employee dissatisfaction. In practice, a standard mobile device is not only vulnerable to damage through its design, but the risk of harm increases with each year of use. These risks and losses are greatly reduced with rugged mobile devices. 

Extended battery life

Some rugged mobile devices come with an extended-life battery and this offers many productivity gains. With standard devices, limited battery life can delay or limit workflows and interrupt work in progress. In some cases it may lead to data loss. Even when batteries are easy to charge or change, this takes time. With a rugged tablet or other ruggedised mobile device that has an extended-life battery, this problem is greatly diminished.


Standard devices are not specialist, and because they are designed to be covetable consumer goods are likely to prioritise the latest capabilities over practical considerations. For example, consumer technology is increasingly embracing USB-C and adding USB-C ports in place of older versions. But where does that leave a mobile workforce that must deal with legacy applications and devices, and therefore needs those other ports? Yes, adaptors are available but they are yet another thing to carry and time-consuming to use. In contrast, rugged devices are work-focused and therefore many will retain legacy functionalities for much longer than non-specialist devices.

Work-focused capability

Because it’s designed with the mobile workforce in mind, rugged mobile workforce technology tends to include inbuilt and integrated apps that boost productivity and make work easier. Integrated barcode scanners that can cope with poor lighting, and thermal cameras are just a couple of the productivity-boosting apps that make a rugged mobile device into a multi-purpose workhorse for busy staff.

Ability to cope with tough conditions

Members of mobile workforces are generally not in offices and many of them work in very inhospitable places indeed. That’s why good quality rugged devices are designed to cope with extreme temperatures and temperature shock, humidity, vibration and altitude. Many also have screens that are designed to be read in bright sunlight. Together, these attributes can save hours of otherwise ‘dead’ time (consider, for example, the length of time involved in tweaking the settings in an average notebook computer, to make the screen visible in direct light; if, indeed, that can be achieved at all). They can also save on extended downtime, because many consumer items simply won’t function, or will function only very slowly, in extreme conditions.

Self-monitoring analytics

When a rugged device for mobile workers can self-monitor, this allows the user and their organisation to get an even better return on their investment in mobile. These devices provide analytics for the use, health, connectivity and performance of that device, allowing the user to plan downtime and optimise work schedules around maintenance, business and performance demands. 


Of course, anyone considering an investment in mobile devices for a mobile workforce would also do well to discuss warranties and repair policies, since these will also affect the return on investment.

To summarise, any investment in rugged mobile devices is also an investment in mobile workforce technology, because ruggedised devices are entirely focused on workplace productivity and use a range of specialist technologies to achieve that. From this perspective, the (sometimes higher) cost of ruggedised, rather than standard, mobile devices should be viewed in light of the downstream benefits and savings, which may exceed the initial price difference over time.

If this topic interests you, please download our whitepaper, or get in touch to discuss your particular needs. 

Download eBrochure