First trialed by 32,000 AT&T employees back in 1994, the mobile workplace has gone from an innovative 90s experiment to the standard operating model for today’s modern businesses.
Remote working is now a common occurrence globally, and this is only set to rise. With the development of business tech such as cloud-based software, BYOD policies and more sophisticated mobile devices, the mobile workforce is predicted to stand at 1.87 billion workers by 2020. In this era, it’s more important than ever before to ensure employees are able to work from any location, and organizations have put the tools and workflows are in place to allow that. When a mobile workforce is set up correctly, disruptions to the normal working procedure will cause little harm to daily workflows.
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What is a mobile workforce?
What do we mean by a mobile workforce? IBM defines it as:
“A mobile workforce is a group of employees that isn’t bound by a central physical location. Instead, the employees are connected by various types of technology: computers, smartphones and other mobile devices.”
Traditionally, the definition of a mobile workforce was synonymous with ‘work from home.’ However, with tech advances such as video conferencing and collaboration applications, the definition of remote working has expanded and increasingly includes employees that are out in the field – an estate agent signing off a mortgage, a lawyer briefing a client, or a sales rep closing a deal. All of these, together with those working from home, contribute to the mobile workforce.
Why is a mobile workforce helpful?
The agile nature of a modern workforce built on enterprise mobility comes with a long list of benefits. Living in an age of connectivity means customers expect businesses to respond to their queries faster than ever. Giving employees the tools to communicate with customers outside of standard office hours leads to greatly improved customer experiences.
Employees are free from commutes and able to fit work around their own habits and commitments. They are also happier (leading to less sick days and lower turnover) and more productive (a 2016 US study found 91% of remote workers felt they were more productive at home than in an office environment).
However, a mobile workforce can be challenging to set up if organizations are accustomed to having their entire workforce in one office location. Having the correct tools implemented already means that a move to more mobile work will be simple.
How can companies enable mobile workers to perform their jobs effectively from any location?
Although remote workers are not physically in contact, communication and collaboration are still an important part of almost every job. The mobile workforce may benefit from fewer distractions than in a noisy office. However, the flipside of this is that it can be isolating, with many remote workers reporting increased feelings of loneliness.
Organizations should make the most of the tools on offer to continue to include the mobile workforce in a team. Not only will this make collaboration easier, but it will increase the sense of communal purpose and aid the team spirit. Through using messaging services like Slack, all workers will be kept up to date with what is happening, regardless of location.
It’s also a good idea to hold meetings via Zoom, ensuring that the video functions are used and not just the voice calling services, as this will support better communication. Trello boards are also an effective tool for keeping track of ongoing projects as they provide an overview, which everyone can see – this is useful when you can’t just swing by a colleague’s desk to ask for a quick update on something.
Employees use a lot of different systems and devices in their everyday work, and a remote workforce can only be empowered if these can be accessed from any location.
For some companies, this means making sure that employees have access to portable company devices, such as laptops. If this isn’t a possibility, then it should be possible for employees to access all their necessary files and systems from their personal devices, in order not to hinder the workflow.
For this to happen, it’s vital that companies are using cloud-based software and storing necessary files in cloud-based solutions. Employees will be unable to access anything which is locked on an on-premise system or location
The rise of software as a service has helped cloud-based systems rise, and these are what must be relied on. For example, cloud-based DAM systems mean that individuals will be able to access all the digital assets that they need to create content. While cloud-based document creation systems like Office 365 and G Suite allow workers to create the documents they need, and cloud-based storage systems such as SharePoint result in easy collaboration on files.
Although company intranets can host all the above, these can be problematic with ensuring all users can access them remotely, particularly when the numbers are large. Users then need to save necessary files to their desktop, meaning they do not know if they are using the most up-to-date versions.
Cloud-based template management systems such as Templafy provide a tool that facilitates working from home tool by giving access to all of the documents, files and assets needed from any location. Not only that, but Templafy also offers productivity and compliance tools, aiding the working remotely process even further.
Security is more important than ever before in 2020, and this is something which must be at the top of a company’s priority when enabling a remote workforce.
With remote workers using their own devices and accessing varying WIFI sources, heightened security is vital for a mobile workforce – particularly as recent surveys have cited 38% of remote workers do not have the tech or knowledge to work securely.
Security plug-ins for online tools have advanced to support this. For example, Office 365 combines One Office 365 Enterprise Mobility and Azure Information Protection, one of Office’s new Artificial Intelligence features that uses behavior and pattern recognition to safeguard company data. If an employee is sending a document containing personal information or sensitive data as an attachment, Office alerts the user of potential risk and suggests a more secure way of getting the data to the recipient (such as by using SharePoint or OneDrive).
Many SaaS platforms are aware of the risks faced by remote workers and provide device managers with a level of security that businesses themselves cannot deliver. Templafy’s solution is hosted on Microsoft’s Azure, and is rigorously and routinely tested. Its cloud services are closely monitored, and it includes more than 20 cloud computing-related security compliance certificates (including ISO 27001 and 27801). Companies who invest in software with this level of security will know that their employees will be working safely, whatever the location.
An empowered mobile workforce can be your company’s greatest asset
When a mobile workforce is optimized, and all employees are able to perform to the best of their ability in any location and from any device, it will take a lot to phase your company.
Find out about how over 1.5 million employees use Templafy to optimize remote working and boost their productivity through easy and secure access to all compliant company assets. We’d love to show you how cloud-based template management benefits your mobile workforce – get in touch for a personalized free demo to find out more.