Mmmm, let me guess. A roadie for M-People, perhaps? A colleague of James Bond?

Mmmm, let me guess. A roadie for M-People, perhaps? A colleague of James Bond?

M-Workers are mobile workers, people who are not tied to their office desk, but who are free to work anywhere and everywhere.

What, no need to clock in and out? M-Workers use the technology available to them - mobile phones, laptops, blackberries - to allow them to work outside the normal surroundings of the office. They can do their work in coffee shops, in parks, in pubs and other public places. They're a fast-growing section of the global workforce - by 2011 it's estimated that one billion people worldwide will be classed as mobile workers, ie people who spend a large proportion of their working day outside the office.

You mean they can go an entire week without having to see the boss?


M-Workers are often their own bosses - largely working on a job-by-job contract basis. Companies prefer using M-Workers because they don't have to do all that silly salary and company car stuff - they just pay them to get the job done - wherever they are.

Still, it must be great not having to talk to your boring old workmates day in, day out?

Many M-Workers find it more stimulating to be working outside the office; they could be lazing by the pool sipping a pina colada or sitting in a French villa - anywhere they can get a signal. But they still have to interact with other workers, albeit in a different way. With the rise of virtual enterprise, business is increasingly being conducted on the internet, and it's not unusual to see people holding meetings in cyberspace.

Some even meet in such virtual worlds as Second Life (See An M-Worker may head a team scattered around the globe, and living in different time-zones, but technology will allow them to keep in touch no matter where they are.

So that fella sitting at the next table in Starbucks could actually be holding an AGM for a major corporation?

Starbucks is a popular spot for M-Workers - in fact, anywhere with coffee, comfortable seats and free wi-fi connection is an ideal spot for the new nomadic workforce. Hotel lobbies fit the bill also.

It's cheaper than renting an office - your only expense is that you may have to buy a coffee every hour, and maybe the odd muffin. But if you're fed up with endless lattes, you could go to One Alfred Place in London, a new premises tailored exclusively for M-Workers, complete with state-of-the-art gadgetry, secretaries, boardroom and even a power-napping area.

Sounds like heaven

To some pundits, it's the inevitable future. Over the next 10 years, say experts, work practices will change radically, and ordinary employment will become an archaic concept. Instead, commerce will be driven by M-Workers, who will run virtual companies, and conduct meetings via hologram. Employers will keep track of their workforce by putting microchips in their brains, and the most talented people will be multi-employed, working for several different bosses and commanding astronomical fees for their abilities.

Try at work

"I'm not sure, but think the CEO's hologram just pinched my bum."

Try at home

"Starbucks just called - they want to know where you want to put the filing cabinet."

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist