Mobile workers are taking their work to the beach, onto sailing dinghies and into tree houses as research confirms that nine out of 10 employees prefer to work outdoors.

Research by Microsoft Windows Mobile found that outdoor locations came a close second to working from home and that choice of working environment will become more important: half the respondents said they work longer hours now than five years ago while almost a third (27.8 percent) expected their hours to increase over the next five years.

A further 73 percent of people considered the ability to work flexibly a deciding factor when choosing a new job. And 52 percent of workers believe they would enjoy a less stressful working life as a benefit of working remotely.

Tom Stewart, consultant with ergonomic specialist, System Concepts, confirmed that employees are more productive and happier when they can choose their environment. "Giving people more choice is empowering, raises morale and improves the relationships between employees and their bosses - it's a win-win.”

System Concepts noticed a curious phenomenon when it compared the health of laptop and desktop workers. Although the desktop is ergonomically a sounder device, laptop workers had fewer complaints about their physical health. "This is because they use them to work more flexibly and they are not tied to their desk in the same way," Stewart said.

James McCarthy said 90 percent of the workforce at Microsoft was mobile-enabled and work flexible hours, too. The company is organised around outcomes, rather than “presenteeism”, he said.