Working patterns have significantly transformed over the last 20 years. How businesses function today is completely different from what anyone would have expected. This change has occurred due to the wide usage of mobile devices including smartphones, laptops and tablets. Consequently, mobile workforce is now standard practice for companies, as employees continue to believe that mobile technology has helped them increase productivity. In fact, a study by Economist Intelligence Unit states that 18% of employees believe mobile technology has improved their creativity.
Companies looking to improve employee productivity have started using mobility to strategize and implement mobile technologies for their employees’ day-to-day tasks.
Let’s understand some basic terms clearly.
A mobile workforce comprises employees who work outside of a physical workplace. These employees are not limited to the staff that works from home. Front line workers such as insurance salespersons, retail employees, and gig workers also fall under this workforce category.
Apart from work from home employees, a mobile workforce is commonly found in the construction, manufacturing, retail, and healthcare industries. Here, employees work out on the field instead of an office desk.
A mobile workforce is not bound by a physical location but is rather connected with different mobile technology. Therefore, in a modern office, apart from managing workplace devices, it is also important to manage workforce devices so that employees can stay well-connected and carry out business operations smoothly.
As the name suggests, Mobile Workforce Management involves handling field-based employees (typically in charge of delivering, repairing, or maintaining a service) working outside the office premises. Underpinned by technology, this approach helps companies build a better, safer and effective working day for field teams that are always on the go.
Mobile workforce ensures your employees stay as productive outside the office as they would if they are in it. By optimizing workforce management strategies, companies can save time and better control administrative tasks like record-keeping, reporting, compliance procedure drafting, schedule administrating, etc.
Workforce management makes employees more productive outside the office as it helps employees easily access software, applications and data like they would within the office premises.
Read more: Are You Executing a Successful ‘Mobile Workforce’? Things We Must Know
Here are six ways to enable a mobile workforce:
A report by Upwork predicted that in the coming 10 years, nearly 38% of full-time employees will work remotely. Despite the numbers, nearly 57% of organizations haven’t set a remote working policy yet.
A remote working policy helps in understanding the vision, goals and objectives set by the business. Make sure your remote policy offers clarification on all roles and responsibilities with clear guidelines, entailing every minute process and procedure.
Your remote work policy needs to also include all security, confidentiality and privacy guidelines that explain ways in which a remote employee can access relevant business data by securely connecting to the network.
While trying to implement a mobile workforce, several questions may pop in your mind concerning your existing operations, such as follows:
Security is the topmost issue, therefore it is important to evaluate your current security procedures before changing the network or infrastructure. You can also conduct a site audit to identify risks and vulnerabilities in your systems and networks.
When companies allow staff to work remotely through remote working tools, security continues to remain the biggest challenge to tackle. A mobile workforce can increase the risks related to data breaches and cyberattacks. You can improve mobile and network security by deploying secure access to the organization’s network, by ensuring remote workers use a VPN (a virtual private network) to access business data. IT admins can also encourage remote workers to use secure cloud platforms for managing and storing data to reduce vulnerability points.
Effective collaboration and teamwork are two crucial elements that can translate into a productive and smooth mobile workforce. By using collaborative tools, remote workers can feel like they’re part of the team and working in unison to fulfill company objectives. Several collaboration tools enable real-time coordination and communication among team members, surpassing geographies. Certain cloud-based project management platforms also allow remote members to organize and manage tasks and track progress.
Embracing a bring your own device culture will allow employees to use their own device to access work-related data. Although BYOD setup keeps business costs down, it comes with a set of challenges. The practice of including a variety of different mobile devices into the network is undoubtedly a primary challenge. But the major challenge with both BYOD and remote workforce is complying with data regulations and security. Company data leaves the office premises with field and work from home employees every day. So when a device is lost outside the office, so is the data inside it. To embrace BYOD, businesses should be able to manage a range of devices and their corresponding operating systems. These challenges can be solved by deploying an MDM solution or cloud-based computing. Mobile device management makes helps IT admins manage personal devices and also allows them separate personal and business data.
With cloud computing, your mobile workforce can access business documents and applications from anywhere. A central cloud-based repository also allows businesses to securely publish apps, software and content to remote mobile users anywhere.
Team communication apps based over the cloud enable better collaboration among remote employees without any geographical barriers. Besides, a mobile device management system can also help IT admins manage applications, device configurations and policies, software updates, etc from office premises.
Employees stationed on the client-side know how important mobile devices and technologies are to access and share information in real-time. With such easy access, field staff can make quick decisions and efficiently resolve customer issues. Say for instance your sales reps take a lot of business lunches, an expense reimbursement software can help them file expense reports with a click, instead of piling up and losing receipts by the end of the month.
When employees work on mobile platforms or on-field, organizations can reduce infrastructure management and operational expenses. With a mobile workforce, companies can easily slash real estate overheads to a great extent. Many reports suggest that by switching to a more mobile workforce. In fact, Sun Microsystems saved $68 million a year in real estate costs.
The mobile workforce ensures business continuity at all costs. In case of downtimes, such as a natural disaster or a pandemic, mobile-based employees can continue working, following a business continuity model.
Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, organizations have been quick in taking steps to ensure their business continues to flourish. Companies have started adopting operational practices that can allow all the more employees to work outside of office premises.
Future mobile workforce trends will include the following: