How To Support Your Mobile Workforce
Business today runs much differently than it did 60, 30, 6 years ago. It’s not that the core goals have changed, but moreso the sociology of the workplace technology. In the 1950’s, high-tech businesses were using typewriters and desk phones. It was only in the mid-1980’s that desktop computer started making their way into the workplace with mobile phones to quickly follow. The mid-1990’s was a womb of technology as the early 2000’s birthed the advent of the smart phone by combining pocket PDAs with the current mobile phones. It wasn’t until 2007 when Apple introduced the first iPhone, a mere 6 years ago.
Today, employees have their desktop computers, laptops, desk phones, smart phones, and tablets to work with. While the desk computers and phones can’t be taken on the go, many workers today keep their laptops, smartphones, and tablets with them for anytime, anywhere productivity. No matter the time of day, being able to set up shop in a home office, coffee shop, airport terminal, or hotel room affords workers the ability to become more productive and efficient. While some people might have deadlines, others may want to get ahead to manage their stress or simply keep up on the latest industry news.
The question arises, “How do I support my mobile workforce?” First, we must think about the fact that not everyone wants to work on the go yet. Some employees may find this idea stressful, preferring to take the time to unplug and re-energize. If that is their style, it is something to be mindful of. It’s important to not force your employees into using something that will actually create more stress. Gradually introducing the mobile workforce methodology can increase understanding and adaptation. Some workers, on the other hand, prefer to use their travel days as mobile work days. While flying across the country may once have been an arduous unplugged endeavor, these workers can now participate in a mobile work day, which can actually reduce their downtime and, ultimately, their stress upon returning to the office.
Forrester reports that anytime, anywhere workers grew to 29% in 2012 from 15% in 2011. Nearly one third of the workforce today works from multiple locations while using numerous devices and various apps. Considering these trends, it’s important not only to equip your workforce with the option of a mobile workplace. Finding ways to introduce, educate, and fully understand how the right technology in the right areas can produce a wealth of benefits including an increase in overall productivity and efficiency while reducing employee stress levels.
Now, some people may suggest that having a mobile workplace will assist in employee burnout. We’ve all been there; feeling suffocated by technology and connectedness to the rest of the world. We sit at our desks and yearn for a cabin in the woods or a secluded beach to simply enjoy the quietness of life. This is why it’s important to have your employees make time for themselves. Whether it’s turning off the devices after 8pm or only responding to non-urgent emails at set times during the day, encouraging employees to disconnect completely from their work thought-processes will give them the time to recharge and refresh.
In addition to education and patience, performing research and discovering what technologies may exist to improve your business processes can be a proactive approach to mobile workforce adaptation. For small and medium businesses, it can be tough to immediately incorporate the latest trends in technology. This is why it’s crucial to keep an eye on current technology trends so that as soon as business consumer confidence has risen, you will already understand how this technology can advance your business. With bugs worked out and larger-level corporations having paved the way with early adoption practices, SMBs can determine ways in which the adaption process can be eased into their own unique organizations.
Finally, talking to your employees about their thoughts and feelings on workplace mobility can be crucial to launching your business into a new age. While some may be willing to take the mobile workplace leap, others may already be researching applications to increase their collaborative efforts. Keeping an open forum for discussion will allow workers to voice their opinions, advice, frustrations, and support. This can become a vital roundtable to find new devices, technologies, applications, and ultimately, heightened success.