4.7 million employees now work from home at least half the time. In fact, since 2005, working from home has grown by 173% since 2005, 11% faster than the rest of the workforce and nearly 47x faster than the self-employed population, says a frequently updated trend report from Global Workplace Analytics. With such large growth, the numbers clearly speak to mutual benefits for both workers and employers. But what are some of those benefits? And, can you just send your employees away from the office—armed with smartphones and laptops—and say, “Go forth, mobile workforce! I’m sure you’ll be fine!” No, before employees and organizations can benefit from flexible working, certain tools need to be put in place to implement a mobile workplace strategy.
Enabling the Mobile Workforce
There’s a difference between being mobile and having enhanced mobility, and that has everything to do with productivity. In order for remote workers to be productive, they need to be equipped with the best tools to do their jobs.
Just like you can’t send employees out with mobile devices and hope for the best, you can’t give workers antiquated technology or subpar device management and expect them to be able to do their best work.
With this in mind, there are a few things that should be included in every remote-worker’s toolbox.
Ensure the individual devices the worker is using are equipped with identity management using multi-factor authentication, and make sure that if they’re gaining remote access to the main office’s workspace that they’re using a secure mobility client. Making sure that there are extra security measures in place will keep the devices the employee is using secure, no matter what he or she is using them for.
If employees are checking in to a central workplace, they may need to access their desk computer while they’re on the go. Some applications can be made available through desktop virtualization or other digital workplace strategy. Other or additional systems can be made available to staff through a VPN—existing applications can be accessed through a web interface or through a virtual desktop container. Employees can have access to work files through cloud storage or digital asset managers.
Whether remote employees are working 100 percent off site or they’re going into a central office a few times a week, they’re going to need mobile technology. Collaboration tools can put them in contact, with clear and consistent connectivity, with their bosses, employees, colleagues, and customers from anywhere, at any time.
Benefits of a Mobile Workplace
Providing employees with the technology tools and a they need to produce quality work when they’re away from a central office is key to reaping the mutual benefits of your mobile workplace strategy. Once they’re equipped, saving time and money, increased productivity and more, are just some of the tick marks in the pro column.
1. Less Overhead
Fewer chairs, fewer desks, overall using less real estate and facilities=cost savings. That’s pretty much a no brainer. But not only that, if employees use their own personal devices (mobile phones and laptops), there’s less cost associated there as well.
2) Better recruiting
Offering a work-at-home option will increase employees’ interest in your company. In fact, several employees value control over their schedules more than salary, stating they would take a pay cut for greater flexibility. Including the perks of schedule flexibility can be a recruitment tool.
- Zero or decreased commute
- Increase in work/life balance
- Need to take fewer sick days
- Most of the benefits listed have skewed toward the employee, but marketing scheduling flexibility as a benefit can help diversify the talent pool of the company itself. If hiring managers and human resource recruiters can expand the search for qualified applicants—no longer confined to look solely in the city where their offices exist.
3) Flexible locations
When workers have the technology they need to work from wherever, whenever, they feel empowered to seek out where they can do their best work. Sometimes that’s a traditional home office, but sometimes that’s a co-working space where they can meet up with other mobile workers, either full-time or a few days a week. Workers are able to travel while maintaining communication with work, answering e-mail, making calls, and retrieving files from hotel rooms and coffee shops from all over the world.
4) Expanded productivity
Having the comfort of one’s surroundings can give them the space to complete work the requires concentration. Sometimes, in a loud office, it’s difficult to find the focus and quiet necessary to complete tasks.
A mobile workplace also increases business continuity productivity. There’s no down time due to weather disasters or downed physical servers or other equipment. Employees don’t have to rush to get back to the office to answer calls or e-mail either—helping achieve better customer service goals.
5) Enhanced tech literacy
When mobile employees are given the technological support they need, they are more apt to learn how to use that technology. Studies show that when mobile workers are faced with a problem to solve, they are more apt to turn to technology to solve it than traditional workers.
Having technologically literate employees with the ability to problem-solve, who are engaging with customers and coworkers in real time from all over the world is keeping people moving, keeping organizations fresh and curious, and employing a more diverse group of workers.
Whether you're just getting started working remotely, or you're a seasoned veteran, it's always a good idea to stay on top of the latest technology available to build out a mobile workplace strategy. Make sure you're not missing or misplacing calls, dealing with disparate systems, or confusing bills across your mobile teams. Talk to someone at SumnerOne today about how you can engage your employees in new, easier-to-use technology opportunities.