It could be argued that one of the most significant evolutions of the modern workplace in the last year has been our need for mobility. There’s no doubt technology is responsible for allowing the shift towards a mobile workplace.
But, what exactly does a modern mobile workforce set-up entail?
At minimum, a modern workplace should have:
- Online Central Management of Core Data (policies, procedures, documents, inventory, etc) that is accessible to all relevant staff.
- Cross Device Compatibility (from Mac/PC to tablet to phone)
- Built-in Security Protection (full-time monitoring of activity)
These days high performing employees not only appreciate flexible working conditions, they expect and demand them. And, with the access and mobility that technology now provides, there’s no reason why you can’t offer more flexible working conditions that allow employees to work remotely or connect when outside the office.
In fact, modern tools that employees have come to rely on, such as smart devices, Outlook, Word, Excel, and Teams can be accessed throughout the day from any location, enabling work flow, communication, collaboration and sharing between individuals and teams around the world.
Nevertheless, when the topic comes up among employers, there are many common misconceptions that prevent business owners from adopting mobile work styles and putting the right infrastructure in place to support it.
The reality is, change is typically marked with some resistance. Here are the common concerns business owners have around embracing a mobile workforce…and why they are wrong!
“Staff will slack off”
There’s a fear that giving employees more freedom, like working from home, will result in them sleeping in or getting distracted watching sitcom reruns. The truth is, mobility actually promotes productively and makes staff more effective at their jobs, whilst increasing job satisfaction and happiness.
In fact, research has uncovered that 77% of staff reported being more productive working off site, and 23% are willing to work longer hours if given the opportunity to work off site. What’s more, almost a third of staff assert that they “accomplish more in less time”.
With the right IT set up, individuals can view and update their work, from documents to software in real-time no matter where they are. Because all activity is tracked, organisations have visibility over employee work habits.
For field employees, having access to real-time data enables quicker decision-making, saving time and money. And, of course, for employees who travel often or attend a lot of meetings, work mobility allows them to handles some tasks whilst commuting or in between meetings. In fact, if you really want to blow your mind about where meaningful work really gets done, check out this TED Talk on “why work doesn’t happen at work“.
By all accounts, productivity and efficiency actually improve in a business when it enables mobility or remote work.
“What about security?”
It’s a legitimate concern that stops a lot of companies from taking that next IT step. But, with the highly sophisticated security features and systems available today and the right employee training, these concerns can be put at ease. Today’s commercial systems are highly secure, with strong encryption protecting the data flowing between employees’ mobile devices and company servers.
Today there are many effective solutions to protect a business against cyber threats and data leakage. For instance, a Virtual Data Room can be used for sharing highly sensitive information and documents. If company devices are lost or stolen, cloud-based security features allow data to be wiped remotely. Software and tools like Office 365 Mobile Device Management have built-in data protection.
With the right IT measures and staff training, businesses can protect against potential security breaches.
“But, it’s expensive”
Another common objection from employers is the cost of setting up a mobile workplace. However, the short-term investment will invariably set a business up for numerous future cost savings and modern workplace operations. When a business’s IT allows staff to work from anywhere, they can expect these wins:
- Lower overheads and operating costs: When staff work from home, a business requires less office space and physical infrastructure.
- Increased efficiency & profits: Better management of company data and documents results in greater team efficiency, as well as increased profitability per individual remote worker (estimated to bring in an additional $5,114 per year per worker).
- Access to a global talent pool: When a business opens itself up to remote workers, they can tap into a global workforce and make long-distance collaboration possible. Lowered recruiting costs are often a result.
It seems employers derive as much benefit from going mobile as employees do.
The truth is, the trend towards mobility isn’t going anywhere (67% of CIO’s and IT professionals believe mobility will impact business as much as—or more than—the Internet did in the 1990s). Business owners can choose to embrace it now and be on the front foot or lag behind.