The concept of a mobile workforce is not new in today’s hyperconnected world1
as most organizations have adopted some form of BYOD (bring your own device) policy in 2014. According to Gartner, there has been a two to three times increase in the size of the mobile workforce2
. As a result, the importance of mobility can no longer be ignored, regardless of the organization’s size or industry. TechCrunch
reported that the majority of employees that have the ability to work anywhere at any time take advantage to the tune of 30 extra hours a month3
. Thus, forward-thinking organizations that take the time to overcome their mobile-specific challenges can observe a profound impact on their employees’ productivity and embrace the benefits of the mobile revolution. Here are a few key points that can guide you through the process of becoming a truly mobile organization.
1. Mobile Workforce as an Approach to Cost Reduction
By having a strategic mobility plan, you can reduce your organizations dependency on physical office space by enabling staff to effectively work from anywhere. Once your employees have the right tools to collaborate productively regardless of physical location, a schedule can be put in place to coordinate their time in the office. This schedule should allow employees to spend a few days a week in the office while working remotely on the other days. By controlling the time employees are in the office, you can allow every seat to be home to more than one person, resulting in major cost savings without adversely impacting their productivity.
2. Some Effective Tools to Promote and Support a Mobile Workforce
In this mobile era, there has been an influx of mobile-ready solutions built to meet the growing demand for workforce mobility. From virtual private networks (
VPNs) to cloud storage to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) soft phones, there are a plenty of options. A right combination of these mobile technologies can play a significant role in enhancing your workforce’s ability to communicate and collaborate with each other and users from outside your organization anytime, anywhere. Let’s take a closer look at these tools.
a. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
VPNs allow remote users to securely connect to your organization’s internal network to use resources in the same manner they do in the office. VPNs play a pivotal role in enhancing staff’s mobility, schedule flexibility, and productivity; thus selecting the one that works for your organization is important. There are many VPN solutions serving the needs of organizations of different sizes and requirements. Dell SonicWall
, and Barracuda
are among the most utilized ones; however, each provider offers slightly different features. So be sure to carefully consider security, scalability, maintenance, and usability, all of which can affect the success of your mobile initiative.
b. Cloud-Based Storage and Sharing
Having access to files from any device, anywhere, is another must-have in your quest for mobility. Cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox
, Microsoft SkyDrive
, and Google Drive
(to name a few) allow users to store, share, and collaborate on documents in the cloud. Here are some examples of the questions you should consider when determining which solution will fit your organization’s requirements:
- Is the timeline for implementation, integration, and training aligned with my organization’s strategic timeline?
- To what extent does it provide security and whether you can customize the settings?
- Is multi-platform support available (to make sure your selected solution will work on Suzie’s Android, Josh’s iPhone, and your MacBook)?
c. VoIP and Soft Phone Communications
- How well does it integrate with the existing apps or programs that are critical to your business
Two communication and collaboration tools that are being effectively used by many organizations are Microsoft Lync
® and software-based VoIP phones (commonly referred to as soft phones). Microsoft Lync® is a user-friendly, well-integrated tool for internal communications via instant messages, voice calls, file sharing, and video conferences between two colleagues or an entire team. Due to its integration with Microsoft Outlook, it provides a consistent, familiar interface of the Microsoft-based environment, which helps users feel more comfortable using it.
For external communication, a softphone allows employees to make and receive phone calls from their laptop (or tablet) with the same phone number they use at their office desk, creating a level of transparency between your organization and clients.
3. The Emergence of Tablets as an Integrated Organizational Device
Every mobile workforce needs a device that strikes the balance between performance and mobility. Laptops have been the answer for many years but as users demand more functionality as well as portability, tablets such as Microsoft Surface Pro 2, Samsung Galaxy Note, and iPad have emerged as the clear leaders in the marketplace. Choosing a device platform that meets the mobile needs of its end users without sacrificing performance is vital to becoming a truly mobile organization. Most major hardware vendors offer tablets with all the processing power you have grown to expect in a laptop while fitting into a more compact form. What sets these tablets apart from others is the fact that they run a full version of Windows 8.1; thus, there is no difference between the software you install on your desktops and those you install on the tablet. This helps avoid costly custom application development or drastic workflow changes
The only way to become a truly mobile organization is to focus on a strategic goal and plan/implement processes that promote a high adoption rate among employees. Clearly communicating any procedural changes and having a support system in place are pivotal to ensuring your mobile workforce is able to use the tools you’ve set in place.
The term “hyperconnected world” is coined by social scientists Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman. It is also discussed in-depth on the World Economic Forum’s website
2“Gartner: Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014.” Forbes
. October 2013.
3“80% of Americans work an extra 30 hours a month on their own time.” TechCrunch
. July 2012.”