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.
What is a mobile workforce?
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 the mobile 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 mobile workforce devices so that employees can stay well-connected and carry out business operations smoothly.
What is mobile workforce management?
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.
The need for a mobile workforce
Mobile workforce ensures your employees stay as productive outside the office as they would if they are in it. By optimizing mobile workforce management strategies, companies can save time and better control administrative tasks like record-keeping, reporting, compliance procedure drafting, schedule administrating, etc.
Mobile 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.
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.
2. Assess your company’s IT environment
While trying to implement a mobile workforce, several questions may pop in your mind concerning your existing operations, such as follows:
Can your IT infrastructure support a mobile workforce?
Can existing technologies be used for it?
Do you need to integrate new technology?
Will there be any changes in current procedures and policies?
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.
3. Enhance the security of networks, systems and devices
When companies allow staff to work remotely, 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.
4. Inculcate effective communication
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.
5. Embracing BYOD
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.
6. Using the cloud
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.
Benefits of a mobile workforce important for your company
1. Improved collaboration and management
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.
2. Beneficial for field employees
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.
3. Operational cost-efficiency
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.
4. Business continuity
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.
Future trends in mobile workforces
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:
Companies can look forward to adopting new software tools so that they can better manage large-scale transitions of employees looking to work from home or remote locations.
Organizations can also implement contract terms via subscription services that can help minimize the impact of cash flow on businesses.
Modern mobile workforce management will essentially involve taking steps to increase employee engagement so that field staff can connect with the office workforce in real-time for communications support and access to data.
The future of mobile workforce management involves embracing VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality). Companies offering the flexibility of remote work culture can reap benefits by integrating AR and VR tools with their mobile workforce management solutions.
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