It’s time to get your employees mobile. Equip them with smartphones, tablets and laptops. Arrange flexible working, encourage working from home – maybe even make it essential. If the thought of this alarms you, then you’re not alone. The concept of home working and flexible hours sends many employers into a silent panic:
- ‘How will my staff access vital information?’
- ‘What if I need them in the office’
- ‘Will my employees be playing video games all day from home?’
Valid concerns, but not valid reasons to dismiss mobile working. We are in the age of the Internet, cloud computing, video conferencing and of the smartphone. These valuable tools can be used to ensure that not only are your staff informed and connected whilst working remotely, but can also make them more productive too.
Of course, just because you can go mobile, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. So, why should you go mobile?
Your Customers Will Expect It
From social media to mobile shopping, your customers are online. Not only are they online, but they are online 24/7. And they expect you to be too. To truly embrace social media, digital customer service and even to make sure that you are the first to respond to trends, you need your staff to be online outside the traditional 9-5, Monday-Friday routine.
We are in the midst of a smartphone revolution, 62% of British adults own a smartphone and 30% own a tablet. They are browsing the internet, doing their shopping online and messaging customer service teams on their way to work at 8am on a Monday morning, whilst sitting watching television at 9pm on a Thursday evening, and really want to speak to someone when their computer breaks at 6.30pm on a Sunday evening.
If your teams aren’t online at these times, to field queries, respond to twitter complaints and even to jump on trending topics, then you’re missing opportunities. Every. Singe. Day. Have you seen how many people tweet about the Great British Bake-Off? No? Check out #GBBO when it is next on. A great opportunity to join the conversation and increase your reach
Your customers now expect to be able to contact you (and get a response) at any time of day, and the best way to negotiate this expectation is to get your employees mobile & working at staggered times throughout the day. You may be thinking that this is impractical; that you can’t keep the office open all day AND night. That you can’t let your employees walk home alone at 1am when their shift finishes.
And you’d probably be right. So set them up to work from home, with cloud systems in place for them to access the information they need day and night. Give them core hours to work so that you know you can get hold of them when needs be, schedule monthly meetings in person (or even Video Conferencing) so that objectives are still clear and needs are still met.
As long as you put the systems, tools and procedures in place then you will be able to make the most of your workforce in the digital era.
A Mobile Workforce Is The Future
Imagine for a moment that you embrace a fully mobile workplace. You turn the lights out and shut the doors for the last time to the office that you have been paying an increasing amount to rent and a scary amount to heat and light.
You send your work force, with their new laptops, smartphones and maybe even tablets, off in their own directions and instead of wishing them a good evening and saying that you’ll see them in the morning, you say ‘good night, speak to you tomorrow’.
In just doing that, you could save money on rent and electricity. Now think about the further implications of an office-less, mobile workforce… Instead of meetings you’ll have video conferencing, so no more time wasted going to and from meetings, or expense claims for travel and lunch, and topping it off, you’ll be helping the environment too!
A Mobile Workforce Is Important
It’s a nice idea to lose the office space & save money on the associated overheads, but it’s simply not practical for all businesses.That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be thinking about going mobile. Equipping your employees with mobile devices and installing cloud-based solutions allows them to have instant access to information wherever they are; no more lost hours on a train commute to meet clients and ad-hoc working from home days are seamless.
If you have a field-based sales team, they can be working at different times of day, be ultra-responsive to customer needs and, by being connected, make sure they never miss a thing. In short your workforce becomes a better prepared, more productive and more effective.
And if you’re worried about the financial impact providing your workforce with smartphones, tablets and laptops, then it’s time for you to consider BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). A huge percentage of your workforce already has the required equipment, so why not let them use it? It will be essential for you to have a solid BYOD policy in place to ensure the integrity of your systems and to protect against misuse, but once this is in place, you’re good to go.
Thinking mobile for businesses is more than just flashy devices and appearing ‘cutting edge’ to your clients. It is about customer service, productivity and smart working. It’s about a bigger digital picture and making the most of the tools available to you, today. Don’t come into the digital era kicking and screaming, embrace it!