Mobile technology becoming commonplace has had a significant impact on the way we work. Thanks to portable mobile devices, employees who need to work outside the office don´t need to carry around papers or stop at the office to record the results of their day´s work.
So, what is a mobile workforce? Employees who don´t work physically in the office. These aren´t just people who work from home, but also deskless workers such as retail employees, salespeople, field service technicians who provide the company´s services on-site, etc. Its aim is to make employees who work outside of the office as efficient as those who work in the office.
Mobile work is more common in industries such as manufacturing, construction, retail, or healthcare, where workers are often out in the field. As you might have already guessed, mobile workforce is defined by mobile technology that allows these workers to do their jobs. Thanks to that, they can be as efficient as in the office when working in the field.
What are the benefits of a mobile workforce?
Millennials, who are used to using mobile devices daily and having internet connection all the time, are starting to make up most of the workforce. They expect to be able to work from anywhere, and employers must take this into account.
Another thing that took mobile work even further was the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced companies to switch to working from home or a hybrid work model.
Thanks to that, many companies saw the benefits of having a mobile workforce, such as:
- Less employee stress
When employees don´t have to spend extra time and money commuting or running from one conference room to another for various meetings, it can translate into higher productivity and employees with better work-life balance.
- Enhanced customer experience
When your employees have access to the best tools, they are more efficient, have less downtime and delays, and can communicate with the customers in real-time. Thanks to that, they are able to provide better service and overall customer experience for your clients.
Thanks to your workers being mobile, you’ll need less physical space. This means lower real estate costs. Instead, you will be able to invest the money into your business and better devices for your mobile workforce.
Thanks to features such as video calls, customer portals, or digital reports, employees spend less time traveling and are productive instead. They don´t need to go back to the office to fill in reports or travel to the customer´s location to resolve minor issues – they can do all of this on their mobile devices.
- Insights from mobile devices
Employees using mobile devices will give you access to important analytical data, such as their location and time stamps. That can help you better understand what works for them, what they spend the most time on, and much more.
Don’t forget about the challenges
As you already saw, a mobile workforce can have many benefits. However, not all the changes it brings are positive. There are several things your employees will have to get used to and challenges you will need to face if you want your mobile workforce to be productive and efficient.
- Managing a blended workforce
When some employees work from the office and others from home or in the field, it can be challenging to manage them. Luckily, various mobile apps can help you track your inventory and employee progress, automate their workflow, schedule orders, track location, communicate in real-time or remotely collaborate.
- More tracking
As employees do not physically work in your offices, you won’t be able to ensure their safety. To ensure they are protected against safety hazards, you will need to monitor them more closely.
The same goes for assets and materials – when employees work in the field and carry around assets instead of them being kept in a central warehouse, you need to keep track of your inventory.
- Staying on top of new technologies
Technology is evolving very quickly and in today’s competitive environment. New programming languages, technologies, and devices are being released every day. It is essential to keep up with trends and innovate so you won’t lose your competitive advantage.
- Keeping devices up to date
When your team primarily works on their mobile devices, you need to ensure their devices are always up to date and able to handle the new technology. As various jobs and positions call for multiple devices, you will also need to support a great range of them – from smartwatches through tablets to ultrabooks.
- Buying new apps
Along with the devices, your software must also stay up to date. Developing in-house apps is always more expensive and time-consuming than buying a third-party app. But even when you find a good app that suits your use case, don´t forget that you will need to maintain it and keep it up to date.
- Eliminating security threats
As your mobile workers spend less time in the office, you might face security threats that wouldn’t occur in the office. Third-party apps on personal phones and other devices with company data, as well as the use of public Wi-Fi networks, increase the risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches. Educate your employees to prevent this.
What can we expect in the coming years?
New technologies such as VR and AR, NFC, 5G, or remote collaboration tools are making mobile work easier and more efficient. Mobile workforce is here to stay, and its demands are creating pressure for companies to react quickly and deliver the best service possible within moments. Thanks to all these technologies, they can! These are some of the top trends that will shape mobile workforce management in the coming years.
Mobile first approach
Did you know that 50 % of employees globally work outside of their main office headquarters at least 2,5 days a week? In the not-so-distant past, employees who didn´t work in the office didn’t have much contact with their bosses and coworkers throughout the day. They would leave in the morning, go about their day according to their schedule, and return at the end of the workday to fill out reports or resolve issues that arose during the day.
Nowadays, thanks to mobile technologies, workers can collaborate with their colleagues in real-time, have access to information about customers and other data on the go, fill out, sign, and print reports, calculate their routes based on live traffic info, update schedules and so on. All you have to do is choose the right mobile workforce management solution.
Thanks to mobile employees using their devices, you can access valuable insights. Collecting and analyzing employee and customer behavior data can help you make decisions. Your company can identify challenges and leverage the newly gained insights to make changes that will help you become more efficient and maybe even cut costs. Good workforce management solutions that collect and analyze data are the key to informed decision-making, which is truly priceless.
Candidates are increasingly demanding flexible working conditions. According to a global survey, 80 % of candidates would turn down a job offer that didn´t include flexible working conditions if they were to choose from two offers. By embracing this, companies can gain access to a broader talent pool and improve employee satisfaction and loyalty.