Whether you work in healthcare, social services, community outreach and support, property management, construction or in many other fields, your workplace may not stay in one place. Your job requirements might call for you to leave the comfort of your own home or office, and even with the advances in technology, old fashioned travel and physical presence can’t be entirely replaced. In fact, technology is making mobile workforce management a lot easier.
Smartphones with the computing power to send a spaceship to the moon, a 5G network coming our way, a rise in popularity of the delivery economy, a preference or need to receive critical services from the comfort of home, a younger workforce who values flexibility in their jobs – all of these things encourage the growth of the mobile workforce. Along with this growth, the demand to address the challenges associated with mobile workforce management is also increasing.
So, what challenges are you contending with among your mobile workers, and more importantly, how do you solve them?
1. Scalability of Processes
Most business models are designed around the assumption that everybody will be together in the same office. Finding a model that prospers with the realities of a mobile workforce is more difficult. Even when distributed around a service area, teams need to be cohesive, following the same mission and pursuing the same goals. For that to work, your organization needs to build processes around clear, concise and open communication.
Even without seeing coworkers’ faces every day, employees need to feel unified by the company culture. This will help current employees feel a sense of commitment to their employers and new employees joining the team not to feel so isolated as they acclimate. In order to scale your business structure and processes up, clarity and cohesion are your best friends. Everything needs to be in writing somewhere, and all employees from entry-level to upper management need to know this information, or at least know how to access it when they have questions. You’ll never achieve scalability with a mobile workforce built on informal policies and procedures.
2. Employee Satisfaction and Happiness
Job satisfaction and happiness is a top priority for companies who want to attract and retain good workers. New data shows that 20% of mobile workers say loneliness is a top challenge for them, and another 20% say that they face difficulties with communication or collaboration. But, how do you successfully engage and motivate your employees without regular face-to-face interactions and a shared office culture?
First, it’s the responsibility of managers within any organization, but especially one with mobile employees, to remember and acknowledge the contributions employees make everyday in their jobs. Creating an atmosphere with praise is publicly given and received will make employees feel as though they are part of the “club”.
And remember: mobile working and flexible schedules are great benefits for employees today. With the proper handling, your employees will be very grateful and satisfied with their jobs, which only means good things for your business objectives.
3. Security and Privacy Concerns
When employees are working outside of a controlled office environment, questions of privacy and security inevitably rear their heads. Mobile work is great for its flexibility, but this also means employees are known to use their personal devices to conduct tasks. What happens when work is performed on personal devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops? How can your company be affected?
For those who make home visits as part of their jobs, using personal devices could be a potential security flaw. For instance, for many nurses, therapists, caregivers and others providing home care, protected health information (PHI) such as patient names, addresses and contact information, is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If the security of an employee’s personal phone, tablet or laptop isn’t compliant with HIPAA regulations, your organization could actually face hefty fines. Generally, though, privacy and security of yours and your clients’ information should be a concern regardless of government regulation.
To address your security weaknesses, you need to prioritize the importance of asset management among your employees. They need to keep track of all devices – both company-owned and personal devices – while working. In fact, this should be formal company policy. Security for any device used to complete work duties, even if you’re just using your phone’s GPS to get you to a client’s home, should be regularly updated. Depending on your industry, it may also be wise to work with your IT and legal experts to create best practice security procedures.
Privacy is a big deal to every person who has data electronically stored somewhere – which is essentially everyone – and with employees working in fluid environments, extra steps should be taken to ensure security needs are met.
4. Employee Productivity
A constant worry for employers with a mobile workforce is their employees’ productivity. It’s tough to tell who the hard workers are and who’s shirking responsibility when they aren’t under close supervision. The key to tackling this issue is to create transparency on both your end and theirs.
You, as the employer, need to set clear standards for productivity, so your employees understand how their performance will be assessed. On their end, you also need to create some method or process that allows workers to report their progress on tasks. Information across the organization should be easily accessible so as not to impede activity, as well.
5. Workforce Management Tools
A mobile workforce relies heavily on using the right tools that can spur communication without causing undue friction on processes. Work management efforts become much more meaningful when you’re managing employees that aren’t actually with you, and both employees onsite and out in the field needs to feel connected to each other and the company.
It’s important that you implement a method for real-time, synchronous communication. Email doesn’t cut it. Whenever it’s necessary, you should also have a video conferencing option on standby, as well. To ensure that information is easily shareable and accessible, a cloud-based storage service will also be required. If you take the time to enable a robust communication structure, your mobile workforce will be stronger for it.
Strengthen Your Mobile Workforce With CompanyMileage
There are new tools popping up everyday designed to make the lives of mobile employees easier and more productive. One area that has been neglected is the mileage expense reimbursement process, though.
Currently, many companies still do things the old fashioned way: manually recording odometer readings, filling out paper expense reports and submitting them to their supervisors for approval before they’re sent to accounting. This process takes up time and ultimately costs companies more money as each human touchpoint presents an opportunity for mistakes and errors.
SureMileage, the mileage reimbursement software brought to you by CompanyMileage, automates and streamlines the process. Rather than verifying the miles driven, SureMileage calculates the expenses to be reimbursed by determining the most direct route between point A and point B. This essentially eliminates instances of mileage padding or estimating.
Expense reports can be created and sent directly from the app in a few minutes. A flexible approval structure fits your needs and keeps the process rolling forward, and since we integrate with major accounting and payroll systems, there’s no breakdown in the workflow.
Not only does SureMileage address inflated employee estimates, but it’s an effective tool for supervisors to monitor employee schedules and time management. And, we make security a top priority with data encryption, facilities security and privacy policies.
Managing a mobile workforce requires a keen eye for detail and tools that facilitate active engagement. Learn how CompanyMileage meets your needs by requesting a demo today.