This article is updated on May 09, 2022 – As the world has seen numerous changes rugged devices remains to be the top choice for businesses that plans to achieve digital transformation.

Using mobile devices in the workplace is as popular as ever. In 2019, the demand for Devices Right for Your Workforce continued to increase from previous years, with over 250 million phones shipped worldwide – and this is only expected to grow, with over 270 million predicted to be shipped in 2020. (IDC, March 2019).

For most businesses, using familiar consumer devices is seemingly convenient and easy at first glance, both for you and your workforce. It is popular and what a lot of businesses do. However, when devices are used in an environment in which they were not purpose-built, you begin to experience issues.

Whatever the working environment, consumer devices are prone to accidents such as knocks and drops and are exposed to unusual conditions – in some instances extreme weather temperatures and risk of ingression.

Because consumer devices are not made for work purposes, they fail.

The detriments of which include huge unnecessary costs, downtime, and disgruntled employees.

So are consumer devices fit for use at work?

Not built for the working environment

Sure, employees like consumer devices, they like the way they look, the way they feel and they are familiar with how they function. 

But it is vital to consider that consumer devices were not designed for the workplace. They were designed to sit in your back pocket, your bag or your bedside – the most adventurous it gets for your consumer device is perhaps seeing down the side of the sofa on occasion.

Their main function is convenience. Of course, as a user, you want a device that is light, slim, attractive, can take beautiful photos and videos, can connect and share with others with a click of a button, can complete payment transactions, download hundreds of GB’s of media and applications, read your fingerprint, retina and have a good battery life. All of this in the palm of your hand. 

When such a device is built, based on convenience and special features, there is no wonder they cannot withstand rigorous work settings. They were not designed to be roughed up, dropped, run over or knocked. Whilst some consumer devices have some resistance against water, they cannot sustain this for long periods of time, survive against sand, dust or dirt ingression or continue working in freezing or extremely hot temperatures.

To summarise: Consumer devices are built to look nice and do cool things, they are not built to survive the conditions of the workplace.

The danger of the Repair and Replace Cycle

Because consumer devices are not fit to withstand work environments, IT teams often find themselves sending their devices off to be repaired or they simply replace them. Why? Because it is seemingly cheap to do so. But when this is done time after time… 

…huge costs can be accumulated, and unnecessarily might we add.

This is what we have named the Repair and Replace Cycle. The reason we have named it is because it is so common. 

In fact, some IT teams bulk buy their consumer devices in order to quickly replace those that have been so easily broken. This disposable mobility method is not sustainable and could be costing your company a lot in the long run.

Interestingly enough, businesses do recognise the dangers of the Repair and Replace Cycle, yet don’t seem to have the tools to overcome it.

We conducted research in 2019 that reinforces this idea. The statement with which the greatest proportion of respondents (62 percent) agreed or strongly agreed was, “The short life cycle of consumer devices makes them more expensive in the long run.” It’s a sentiment reinforced by the fact that 60 percent have experienced consumer mobile device reliability/durability issues to the extent that it is a cost and productivity problem for their organisation. (Accordingly to study “The business-rugged sweet spot: Choosing fit-for-purpose, robust mobile devices and service models by Conker and Computing).

To summarise: When the fragile consumer devices used by businesses break, they are continuously sent for repair or replaced entirely, until the device breaks again. And the cycle goes full circle. The Repair and Replace Cycle is non-sustainable and involves unnecessarily high costs to the company.

The knock-on effect: costs, downtime and morale

The knock-on effect of deploying ineffective consumer devices into your workplace does not just involve high costs. 

Yes, by falling victim to the Repair and Replace Cycle your budget will suffer, but the ripple effect runs further than your P&L.

Where the real damage is done is to your end-users, your mobile workforce. Getting halfway through a job, getting excited to complete it even, to find that the consumer device you have been given has failed again, is pretty disheartening.

So not only does deploying such devices to your teams create lag, and therefore downtime, but also staff morale. 

Your overall productivity will be affected, along with the quality of work. After all, the age-old saying does have merit: Happy workers are productive workers. In fact, happy workers are 13% more productive according to a study by Oxford University.

To summarise: By equipping mobile workforces with consumer devices (those that are ill-fitted for the workplace), businesses accumulate not only high costs that are unnecessary but employees are affected. The downtime created by unreliable devices that fail impacts productivity and staff morale.

Are consumer devices right for your workforce?

If you have a team of mobile employees, those who rely on mobile devices to get their jobs done, perhaps to work remotely, on the go, or even outdoors. Then the answer is no.

Consumer devices’ main function is convenience, they were designed to satisfy our personal needs and to look good. 

Rugged tablets and devices, on the other hand, are designed to withstand tough conditions and focus on productivity.

More than just a durable case, tough tablets, and other touch devices are built inherently to last. This means built-in shock absorbers to withstand drops, special seals, and gaskets that can prevent damage from water, pressure, dust, sand, and any other materials. Rugged devices are built with care and often have moving parts removed to ensure longevity.

Businesses that already equip their teams with rugged technology and tough tablets reap a multitude of benefits, including:

  • Uptime: Fewer breakages mean your teams can be more productive.
  • Improved staff morale: More reliable devices ensure your teams can fulfill their jobs. 
  • Cost Efficiency: Breaking the Repair and Replace Cycle eliminates accumulated costs over time.

Why not try our Total Cost of Ownership Calculator? Compare your consumer devices with rugged devices and see where savings could be made.


Unlike rugged devices, consumer devices are not built for the workplace, which is why businesses find they fail so frequently.

Rugged devices on the other hand are purpose-built to withstand testing environments, making them more suitable for the workplace.

Businesses from a multitude of industries rely on rugged devices every day to continue working under wet, cold, hot, dusty, dirty, or accident-prone conditions. If you’d like to find out more about rugged mobile device selection and reducing costs for your company, get in touch today and we will go through our range of rugged devices with you and which would be suitable for your industry and workforce. 

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About Conker

Founded in 2008, Conker is a British producer of business-rugged tablets, touch screens, and mobile devices, providing durable and reliable systems for successful digital transformation.

The firm’s consultative approach delivers fit-for-purpose solutions that improve productivity and streamline business processes, supported by its easy-to-work-with UK-based service team. Customers include Eastern Forklift Trucks Limited and the food waste company, Winnow Solutions. Conker has a partnership with Fusion UEM by VXL and intends to expand its technology partnerships.

Led by founder and CEO, James Summers, Conker’s collaborative approach now empowers mobile workers to measurably improve productivity and make their lives easier by automating the mundane and streamlining business processes.

The business has received recognition within The Financial Times’ FT 1000: Europe’s Fastest-Growing Companies (2018) and Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 (2017). The company legally trades as Tablet Technologies Ltd. For more information visit: