Is it cool to have a physical office space anymore? For years, businesses have been expressing their desire to move away from what is one of their biggest expenses. We can see this in how quickly the mobile workforce has grown in the last five years. The International Data Corporation (IDC) reported 96.2 million mobile workers in 2015, a number that they expect to reach 105.4 million in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has only intensified this shift away from commercial workspaces.
The pandemic drove many businesses to embrace a work-from-home model very quickly, and for the most part, it’s been a pretty positive experience. According to Gartner, nearly 75% of CFOs plan to shift at least 5% of previously on-site employees to permanently remote positions post-COVID. While this isn’t necessarily great news for commercial real estate investors, it can do wonders for your finances and productivity. You just have to make sure you prepare your mobile workforce properly.
Even before the current crisis, changing technologies and new ways of working were disrupting jobs and the skills employees need to do them. Mobile workers need to have greater fluency with digital technologies such as cloud storage, project management software and employee tracking apps. As we all evaluate different ways to manage business away from a physical location, helping your workers embrace these technologies is imperative.
Preparing for a Mobile Working Model
The first step in preparing for a mobile working model is preparing your employees themselves. You need to make sure they have the right skills and training to work independently and productively.
Moving to a mobile work model may seem intimidating, but you’ll find your employees are more adaptable that you may believe. After all, the concept isn’t entirely new. Sales representatives, service technicians, in-home caregivers and many other occupations already function quite well with a mobile workforce. If you’re feeling uncertain about this transition, the best thing you can do is get started now. Even if the initial strategy you create for this move turns out to be a failure, you and your employees will still learn a lot throughout the process and can iterate together. The most important thing is that your critical employees develop the self-confidence and resilience needed to approach challenges head-on and learn from them.
Creating a Digital Ecosystem
A certain amount of technical awareness is key to a successful mobile working ecosystem. When employees are no longer contained under one roof, the need for tools such as a document management system that allows everyone to share and store important information in one place and advanced analytics which help you optimize processes is much greater. You should take steps to first identify the kinds of technologies your business needs, figure out how to best implement them with your employees and ensure everyone has been properly trained on their use.
With everyone spread out, you no longer have the benefit of conversations in the break room or one-on-one mentorship. The importance of instilling these social and professional ties within your company does not diminish, though. In fact, with distance dividing your workforce, it’s even more necessary to ensure that all employees build and maintain these interpersonal relationships. These relationships are the product of better communication and collaboration; things such as company group chats, regular team and individual check-ins and setting up clearly defined lines of communication in the event that something goes wrong can go a long way to keeping cohesion intact as you move to a mobile workforce
Making Autonomous Employees
Remote employees are separated from the oversight of their supervisors and managers, which means that for them to remain productive – and for you to remain confident in their work – you shouldn’t simply toss them into this working model. You need to create a formal strategy for teaching better time management, project management and problem solving techniques. This can be something as simple as implementing end-of-day reports, having managers and employees set weekly, monthly and quarterly goals or harnessing employee tracking apps to monitor their tasks, timekeeping and travel.
Reinvent Your Business
There’s no way around it, losing a physical office space means losing a central location, a place you use to meet with clients, hold meetings, share presentations, store important materials and so much more. In a post-COVID world, you’ll need to innovate. Maybe that means instead of people meeting you where you are, you meet them where they are, in their homes or at a local coffee shop. When that’s not possible, a phone call or video conference can be a suitable substitute, too.
You can also take a closer look at the way you deliver services. You should invest in the right technology now, such as a telecommunications infrastructure or other applications that will allow them to work from anywhere.
For mobile employees, there are many different employee tracking apps you can implement to help track time, scheduling, projects, payroll and location. One area often neglected with a mobile workforce, though, is your employee mileage. When your employees are on the move more for their jobs, you may find yourself blindsided by the sudden need to track their mileage in order to properly reimburse them. For many, this means keeping a handwritten mileage log of odometer readings for trips made throughout the workday. It won’t take you long to realize what an inaccurate, inconvenient and unscalable process this is.
SureMileage, by CompanyMileage, streamlines this often tedious process for employees, managers and accounting administrators. Rather than verifying mileage after the fact, our system calculates the mileage from the best route between the starting and ending points of each trip. At the end of the day, employees simply submit their trips, and our system automatically moves them through your approval workflow. SureMileage is not only faster and more reliable than other methods, but you can also gain insights into your employees’ activities and time management.
Preparing your company for a mobile working model may at first seem like an incredibly difficult task, but once you put a strategy in place for moving forward, research technologies and implement the right employee tracking apps, you will be pleasantly surprised with how receptive employees are to this “new normal”. To start planning for this future, you can request a demo with CompanyMileage today.