Using mobile technology to enable workforce.
With this trend being driven by millennials, the expectation is that mobile workforces are only going to become even more of a standard feature in workplaces in the years ahead. Due to both the lifestyle (morale) and productivity benefits of mobility and flexibility, it is in the business leader’s best interest to enable a mobile workforce.
With mobile technology and the prevalence of WiFi enabling people to work from anywhere in a seamless and comprehensive manner, there are no longer any technical inhibitions that would prevent most workplaces in Australia from liberating their staff of their desks. However, achieving a mobile workforce requires a dedicated change management program within the organisation and there are two critical components that employers need to keep in mind in order to make sure the mobilisation strategy achieves its desired outcomes.
Here are some expert thoughts on this premise. IF you were to ask Australian business leaders what some of the key trends are in the modern workforce, one of the most frequent responses that you’ll get back is that local workers are more flexible and mobile than ever, and that businesses need to align their work practices to follow suit.
Most people today use their smartphone to complete tasks. From internet banking, email, making bookings or reservations, placing orders, completing to do lists, watching instructional videos or looking up information on Google. People are conditioned to complete tasks on the bus, at the café, while they’re having lunch or walking between meetings. We have become a mobile workforce.
Most businesses realise that there are substantial opportunities to improve productivity, efficiency and safety by enabling their staff and contractors to progress and complete activities on their mobile devices. Businesses can also see the potential to collaborate with their customers and suppliers in real time.
IDC, one of the world’s leading technology advisory firms, estimates that $901 billion was spent worldwide on mobile technologies in 2014. This is forecast to reach $1.2 trillion by 2019. Nearly every industry sector is enabling their mobile workforce this way.
It’s not just about completing tasks in the field, on the road or at a customer’s premises. Mobile workforce technology enables businesses to redefine the way they operate. Every step in the process can now be optimised because relevant data can be collected, analysed and used
to inform decision making. Mobile technology is driving workforce transformation in a very practical way, across businesses large and small.
Mobile workforce technology can be viewed from two main vantage points – the employee (or ‘user’), and the employer or company that implements the tools within their business practice.
The user ultimately expects usability, while the company is making mobile workforce technology a priority because it delivers numerous benefits. Functionality varies based on the application, with the best solutions enabling your staff and contractors to complete forms or checklists, access relevant data, take photos or readings, track progress and sign off work to confirm completion.
Integrated map views enable the worker to see the next job and location, and navigate to it with all the information they need at their fingertips.
Often, employees reach a client’s premises and need to contact someone back at the office to get instructions, documents, plans, access codes, or the phone number for the point of contact.
Workforce mobility applications should have real time chat and progress reporting to enable teams to complete work together and for office staff to easily collaborate and assist as required.
Given mobile coverage is not ubiquitous, tasks need to be available offline, with the application automatically syncing when the device is back in mobile coverage.
A web accessible dashboard for managers is useful for scheduling, work allocation, visualising job progress and collaborating with mobile users.
Typically, organisations fall into two categories, companies that complete work and companies that get work completed for them. There is a rapid uptake of mobile workforce technology by both types of company, as they look to improve efficiency, productivity, safety, cashflow,
real time awareness and/or customer service.
As we move towards a mobile workforce, management skills and business processes also need to adapt. The introduction of gamification is a great example of this, with game based scores, recommendations and rankings motivating employees to improve productivity, job performance and gain timely client sign off.
Like any major technology shift, early adopters can often secure market share and competitive advantage. With the widespread introduction of mobile workforce technology, it’s important for companies to prepare, in order to capitalise on this shift.
Joe Hoolahan, Co-founder & CEO, JESI
IDC expects that by 2020 almost three quarters of the world’s workforce will be mobile. That’s a staggering increase over the 37% it is today, and while the trend is staggering because mobility is of benefit to employer and employee alike, it will also prove to be significantly disruptive to the business if not handled well.
A lot is written about how businesses should manage a mobile workforce in order to ensure that productivity, efficiency and accountability are maintained or enhanced. Part of the conversation that needs to be had, but that is often lost among the other discussions, is that an employer’s responsibility to its employee’s health and safety doesn’t change, whether the employee is in the office or on the road.
This is significant. Employees working in remote areas are exposed to a different set of health and safety risks than those at a desk in their office. Employees that spend a lot of time travelling – especially internationally – do so with a heightened risks of terror attacks. Employees spending a lot of time on the road have a heightened risk of fatigue leading to a car accident.
It is important that employers develop a robust solution to monitor their employee’s health and well-being while at work, regardless of where they are, without compromising their privacy. To do that, the employer needs to understand what the movement of each employee is like, and then adopt policies that respond to any health and safety risks that might arise.
The adoption of GPS technology, as well as robust fatigue management programs and active check-in technology can all help the employer meet its obligations to the staff.
It is important to note that this is not just good practice, it’s often legislated. In January 2014 the Australian WHS Legislation for Managing Remote and Isolated Workers came into effect, and has required organisations to review and implement solutions to achieve compliance.
It’s easier to achieve compliance when an entire staff team is collected in the one place, but that’s not in fitting with the future of work. A mobile, nimble workforce is an inevitability that businesses need to recognise, or else run the risk of being outpaced by their competitors.
However, even putting aside the legal responsibility, simple best-practice will tell you that an employer should be looking out for their team members’ safety and well-being while on the job.