Of all the developing business trends that have emerged over the past decade, few have as much potential as the growing popularity of mobile workers. What was once a rarity not too long ago is quickly becoming the standard.
Still, making the most of this growing opportunity requires understanding why it’s so promising and what common pitfalls must be avoided to take full advantage of it.
3 Reasons Mobile Work Affects Every Company
For companies that have been successful at adding mobile workers to their staff, the benefits are apparent. For those that haven’t taken the step yet, here are the three most common reasons given for leveraging a mobile workforce.
1. Mobile Workers Are Becoming the Majority
By 2020, the International Data Corporation believes the U.S. workforce will be made up of 72.3% mobile workers or roughly 105.4 million people.
Mobile working represents promising advantages for the companies that offer the opportunity, but that’s not the only reason this statistic matters. It’s also important because it shows that companies which don’t support a mobile workforce will soon find themselves in the minority, competing against those businesses that can utilize mobile technology and workers to meet their goals.
2. A Mobile Workforce Leads to New Opportunities
As Sprint pointed out in their article, “The benefits of a mobile workplace”:
“For business travellers or people who are mobile most or all of their workday, work takes place wherever they and their devices happen to be at that moment, from a hotel room in Barcelona to a coffee shop in Barstow.”
Thanks to mobile technology, employees can work from anywhere in the world. It means they can visit clients onsite to meet their needs without numerous conference calls or emails. It also means they can continue working even when they’re out-of-town at a conference or other business event, even though they may be far from the office.
3. Mobile Workers Are Better Workers
According to a report done by The Economist Intelligence Unit entitled, “Mobility, performance, and engagement,” companies which use mobile technology see better outcomes from their employees, too. Respondents who rated their companies’ use of mobile technology highly were also found to be “more productive, creative, satisfied, and loyal.”
Don’t Jump on the Bandwagon Just Yet
While the three benefits of a mobile workforce listed above are compelling, companies shouldn’t jump headlong into the trend without considering a few possible downsides.
There are two considerations every business owner must address before embracing flexible working, or mobile workers may become more of a drawback than an advantage.
1. Mobile Workers Can Represent Security Concerns
According to a survey done by Computer Weekly, “57% of organizations suspect that their mobile workers” have either been compromised or have caused a mobile security issue in the past year. That’s a massive number, though it’s far from an unavoidable problem.
Adding mobile workers to your teams will always represent a new opportunity for cybercriminals to strike, a dispersed workforce and more technology provides more vulnerabilities to exploit. Still, a recent SailPoint survey found that “44% of IT leaders report their organization has suffered a cyber-attack in the last 12 months”, so the problem probably has more to do with the security measures – or lack thereof – that companies are taking.
So, before companies start utilizing mobile workers, they should first assess their current digital security status. The advantages of using such workers will only exasperate preexisting problems.
2. Managing Mobile Workers Involves Utilizing the Right Technology
Managing a mobile workforce can be a real challenge if you don’t invest in the necessary technology to support your employees while they’re in the field.
This is why many companies rely on the cloud, file synchronization services, and messaging platforms like Slack to ensure entire teams can stay in contact and work together even when members aren’t under the same roof.
Some companies even develop their own mobile apps. These apps can address their business’ unique needs and support the requirements of a mobile workforce. It’s also a great way to deal with security concerns related to mobile workers.
With that said, many of these helpful platforms can turn into costly obstacles if you don’t invest in remote diagnostic software too. This will allow your IT team to diagnose, troubleshoot, and resolve any problems your mobile workers may have with those tools while they’re out in the field.
Making the Most of a Mobile Workforce
Over the coming years, more and more companies will rely on mobile workers because they merely represent too many benefits to ignore. However, the businesses that experience the best results will do so by taking a planned and strategic approach.
This means assessing their current network and creating best practices for hiring and onboarding such workers. Once these issues have been covered, mobile work may soon become their most significant advantage.
You can read more about the emerging business technology changing the way we work in our guide “Trends in Technology.” Download your FREE copy today!
Director of Marketing & Inbound Business Development