Bluetooth headset manufacturer Plantronics is working with a UK-based iPhone app developer to offer crowd-sourced reviews of suitable hotspots where conditions most lend themselves to productive mobile working. WorkSnug offers reviews of internet cafes and other commercial premises where teleworkers can station themselves to work in comfort and, hopefully, peace.

Launched in London in November 2009, WorkSnug initially seeded reviews of venues, but has since built up a catalogue of user-generated reviews of mobile working locations. In April 2010 it expanded its presence to 24 cities across the globe and has since gone on to offer reviews of hotspots in 29 countries. 

As well as offering written reviews, the free WorkSnug app contains photos of a location. Reviewers can capture panoramas on their iPhone or BlackBerry smartphone. The app can record the ambient noise via a decibel meter and automatically log the time of day and the date of the reading. In time, a more complete picture of distracting noise levels, footfall or relative calm can be built up.

Plantronics is a funding partner for the app, but also has its own play within it. A web-based element to WorkSnug allows a user to enter a venue’s details and receive an estimate of how well that ‘jitter’ levels there will cope with successful delivery of a VoIP call - something Plantronics' business is partially built around.

The gauge takes around a minute to deliver its verdict. A green light indicates a strong connection with little bandwidth jitter – a more important determinant in how easily a SIPS-based call can be conducted, according to WorkSnug founder Richard Leyland. A green light will usually also indicate a connection is likely to be suitable for video calling and for Skype HD calls. Information about connection suitability can be saved against existing WorkSnug reviews, with a Skype-accessible logo indicating a venue’s suitability.

Stuart Bradshaw, Plantronics’ head of consumer marketing for EMEA, told PC Advisor that mobile working at least one day a week is now a reality for 70 percent of British workers and that background noise is cited as the biggest barrier for mobile workers’ productivity.

Yesterday at Mobile World Congress, Skype and WorkSnug announced a partnership whereby the app becomes the location partner for the world’s best-known web-calling service. In addition, Skype announced that credits on a user’s call account will now be able to be used to pay for web access via in-app billing. This means users will be able to make micropayments for web access simply by clicking through a couple of agreement messages.