What Is a Mobile Workforce?
For many companies, going mobile is quickly becoming the norm, not the exception. From laptops and internet-enabled devices like smartphones and tablets to cloud solutions and mobile apps, working outside the office has never been easier or more productive. As technology becomes increasingly portable, easier to use, and more affordable, more employees are choosing to complete tasks on the road or from home, instead of being stuck in a cubicle during regular business hours.
A mobile workforce is traditionally defined as a group of employees who work remotely from anywhere and are connected by mobile devices and technology instead of being tied to a single physical location where everyone goes to work. People who work from home may be the most common examples, but as mobile devices and digital office automation tools continue to evolve, anyone who performs work in the field that previously would have needed to be done at an office is also considered a mobile worker. If the benefits of working whenever and wherever appeals to you, you're not alone. It's estimated that the global mobile workforce will reach nearly two billion workers by the year 2022.
Why Is a Mobile Workforce Important?
Embracing tools that let your employees work from various locations allows for flexibility that leads to better customer service and business growth. For example, salespeople who previously brought clients back to the office to complete paperwork can now finalize the transaction from wherever it's convenient, including the client's own home. Health care workers can diagnose patients with smartphone video conferencing and immediately send data to hospitals or primary physicians. There are numerous other benefits of a mobile workforce, which include:
- Enhanced customer service with quicker responses through mobile devices accessed from anywhere
- Ability to provide 24/7 customer service by establishing a continuous workflow with employees scattered across time zones
- Easier collaboration no matter where team members live through virtual private networks that let you work without borders
- Less short staffing by letting employees work from home when they can't make it to the office due to weather, minor illnesses, family difficulties, or other issues
- Decreased costs for office space by employing mobile employees who don't require actual office space to work
- Reduced travel expenses by utilizing video chats for meetings instead of having everyone meet in a central location
- Increased number of productive hours by cutting out your employees' commute times
- More energy savings due to less commuting by remote workers which lowers pollution from automobiles or public transportation
- Higher employee retention because remote workers experience less stress which often also translates to higher productivity and increased company loyalty
- Increased employee motivation and validation resulting from showing trust in their skills and work ethic by letting them work remotely on a flexible schedule
- Expanded talent pool because you have access to a workforce that doesn't need to live near your home office, including skilled workers who have a difficult time making it into an office like stay-at-home parents, disabled persons, or anyone who lives outside a reasonable commute time
- Ensured business continuity following a disaster that would normally cause you to experience downtime for office-based employees because mobile employees can continue working
Embracing a virtual environment lets your company be more competitive and grow faster than ever. Whether you have employees that work remotely part-time or full-time, using a mobile workforce helps your business keep its overall expenses down while increasing employee satisfaction. In an ever-increasing digital world, you can't afford not to consider a mobile workforce if you want to stay competitive and ensure your company's success.
Best Practices for Mobile Workforce Management
Not all mobile workforce management systems are created equally. The best systems are user-friendly and offer the flexibility and scalability you need to easily adapt to the nature of your operation and your mobile workforce. Managing your mobile workforce should include solutions that ensure proper management and security of your employees' mobile devices while also providing full accessibility and overall employee satisfaction, such as:
- Ensuring security while providing the access across mobile devices and platforms that employees need to ensure productivity while data remains safe
- Employing data encryption with multifactor authentication to protect data on mobile devices in case these devices are lost or stolen
- Creating a list of accepted and supported devices and technology, so employees understand their options for logging on from a mobile device
- Setting boundaries that govern the use of public networks that could put company and customer data on mobile devices at risk
- Employing mobile print services that are compatible with consumer products to allow employees to use their own devices to print from anywhere without sacrificing the security of encrypted data from phone to printer
- Allowing flexible work schedules so employees can work at varying times of the day or on weekends and still enjoy personal pursuits
- Encouraging true time off, so they don't get burned out from always being connected to their job
Work doesn't have to happen at an office inside a cubicle. It can happen anywhere. Many workers find they get more accomplished when they work outside the office and forego the routine 9-to-5 schedule. With the right solutions that let employees remotely access the same data that would be available at company headquarters, you create a mobile workforce that can be more productive outside the office than they were in it.