Five Tips for Managing a Mobile Workforce

Five Tips for Managing a Mobile Workforce

The globalization of business, companies, and industries, combined with ever-advancing mobile technologies, provides an array of options for today’s corporate managers. Remote salespeople and employees can stay in touch through SMS, emails, texts, conference calls, video platforms, and online meetings. Websites provide a platform for updated product or service information, webinars offer opportunities for remote trainings and introductions, and Content Management Systems and new tools enable creative teams to collaborate on a variety of projects from remote or home offices.

The opportunities of working with a mobile workforce are many, but managing teams from a distance can be challenging. Managers supervise employees whom they can’t meet with face to face and whose schedules and daily workflow they don’t control.

Meanwhile, employees are demanding increased flexibility and an acceptable balance between work and personal lives.[1] A survey conducted by FlexJobs in 2014 found that job seekers are looking for flexible work options due to concerns about work-life balance (74%), family reasons (52%), health and exercise (52%), time savings and reduced commute stress (47%), cost savings (43%) and other reasons, such as the job market in their local area (22%) and the need to take care of a family member (21%).[2]

The following tips can help maximize efficiency and productivity when managing a mobile workforce:

Stay Up-to-Date on Mobile Technology: Managers should stay up-to-date on the latest applications that enable audio, video, and online conferencing; fast and easy access to mobile meetings; secure data sharing; and creative collaboration. The best mobile applications can enable field workers, telecommuters, and other off-site employees to boost productivity, reduce business costs, and improve responsiveness.[3] MobileDay is one of the many new technologies improving the productivity of remote teams (click here to learn about some others).

Avoid the Temptation to Over-Control: When supervising an on-site workforce, many managers oversee office hours, meeting schedules, daily priorities, break times, and even dress codes. It’s not possible to maintain the same type of control over a mobile workforce. Instead of focusing on micro-managing employees’ individual tasks, mobile managers can boost efficiency by fostering teamwork, productivity, and creativity.[4] The focus shifts from the process to the results.

Communicate: All managers should communicate regularly with their employees to stay abreast of changes or problems, and to assess performance, programs, and policies.[5] This is no different with a mobile workforce. Regular communication helps managers relay company strategies, promote motivation, be a source of general work information, improve employee attitudes, and control business outcomes.[6] Mobile managers can take just as much advantage of communications tools as their employees.

Set goals: Mobile managers must trust employees to meet expectations without direct or on-site supervision.[7] Clear and effective communication of these expectations is key, and it can help to set goals that revolve around quantifiable results.[8]

Lead by example: A great way for managers to communicate expectations, whether about work/life balance, accessibility, or results-driven processes, is to “walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.” [9] If you want to build a corporate culture based on openness and honesty, exhibit those characteristics as a manger. If you hope to encourage reasonable hours, for example, keep those hours yourself. If it’s important to be accessible, be accessible. If you want to foster teamwork, communicate regularly with team members and encourage them to do the same with each other.

By staying up-to-date on the latest technologies, relinquishing over-control, communicating regularly, setting clear goals focused on quantifiable results, and leading by example, managers of mobile workforces can build efficient, hard-working, results-driven teams—and embrace the advantages modern business tools and the global business environment.

Top 7 Advancements in Mobile Tech from 2014

Mobility

Mobile tech has become increasingly important as more companies rely on the growing mobile workforce. Many of today’s employees work while they travel; others work from home or remote offices. As a result, businesses are turning to updated tools such as SMS messaging; audio, online, and video conferencing platforms; webinars; and socially enabled business processes to maintain an efficient workflow. With rapid-fire advancements in mobile technology comes a need to keep up with the latest trends. Businesses are grappling with increased demands for new requirements, such as the latest and greatest mobile applications, better data security, and “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies and practices. To help you keep up with the latest trends and identify changes your company might want to implement, we’ve compiled a list of some of 2014’s most important advancements in mobile technology.

Wearable Technology is Taking Off

“Fast forward to 2014 and technology has upped its game to new heights. Technology is now an extension of our bodies and these new technologies have a significant impact on our lives.” Bernadette Coleman, CEO & Executive Director of Advice Interactive Group, an award winning digital agency, wrote those words in this article before we even knew just how prevalent wearable technology would become. Wearable technology is becoming more standard with such developments as the Apple Watch and other devices that provide immediate access to a variety of technologies 24 hours a day. Tech users are checking texts and emails from their watches and using them to track heart rates and fitness workouts. We predict that this trend will become even more prevalent in 2015, Fortune notes that wearable technology is even getting a fashion makeover as fashion houses such as Rebecca Minkoff and Tory Burch team up with tech companies to make the devices more aesthetically appealing.

More Mobile Devices are Being Designed as the “Main Screen” (Hello, phablet)

Remember when people said, “I don’t want to read that [article, newspaper, book, email] on a small screen?” Those days are gone for many users of electronic devices thanks to recent advances that improve the reading experience on a variety of mobile devices. Most important, tech companies are adjusting screen size to accommodate wider use. This has prompted users ranging from employees to students to people who just communicate with friends and family to consider their mobile devices as their main technology screens (it’s no coincidence that iPhone 6 offers a larger-size option in the iPhone 6 Plus). Hybrid devices that bridge the divide between phones and tablets, known as “phablets,” are becoming more popular. According to TechTarget, “a phablet is a computing device with a screen size between four-and-a-half and seven inches, measured diagonally. As the name implies, the device is essentially a tablet that also functions as a phone.” The business implications are tremendous; employees now have access to virtually any type of communication whenever they can carry and use their mobile device. They can read a business article, respond to emails, send texts, and dial into an online conference meeting—all with the same portable device.

User Data Security Enhancements

Sony Pictures recently experienced a major security breach when the company’s private emails, employee social security numbers, and other critical data were publicly exposed by hackers. And remember the public outcry that resulted from Facebook’s admission that it had manipulated users’ news feeds (without their knowledge) to investigate “emotional contagion?” Data security has become a bigger issue than ever as more businesses rely on electronic data storage and communication, and as more employees who have grown up communicating through mobile devices forget that their online communication is never completely private. The best mobile app developers take security very seriously as they design and implement their technology. MobileDay, for example, never removes user data from individual devices.

New Technologies Have Improved Mobile Business/Customer Connections

Connecting with customers via mobile devices is no longer a “maybe” for many serious marketers. According to Nielsen’s Q1 2014 Cross-Platform Report, people spend more than 38 hours per month on their phones, yet mobile comprises only about 4 percent of total ad spending. Many companies still choose more traditional advertising spaces even as their customers spend more time on their phones. One panel of experts, however, recently “concurred that mobile is here to stay, is changing how we need to think about engaging with consumers, and needs to be a defined part of every brand’s advertising strategy.” To help companies move in this direction, creators of online and mobile advertising and measurement tools have developed new products and technologies. QR codes, for example, are codes that can be scanned by device users who want to “like” a Facebook page, receive a coupon, or sign up for an event. Companies like Leadbolt, meanwhile, provide solutions for companies seeking to monetize their apps. Leadbolt enables companies to choose their own placements, select from multiple proven ad formats, or build a custom native ad experience to match their app’s unique style.

BYOD Policies

Many employees access company information on their own personal mobile devices. As a result, many businesses are seeking better ways to ensure data security, and new technologies have been introduced to help. As Drew Hendricks writes in Forbes, “Businesses are increasingly putting remote wipe and encryption software on personal devices, as well as mobile virtual workspaces that separate work data in a separate, encrypted area on a user’s personal device. If there’s even a remote possibility one of your workers could access work data on a personal device, you should have a written, signed policy in place for each of your workers.”

The Cloud is Making it Easier to Collaborate on Files, Even from Mobile Devices

Solutions such as Microsoft’s Office 365 are being designed to enable businesses, employees, students, and anyone who works online to store data in the cloud, avoiding the need to email files back and forth between team members or to work off of multiple versions of the same document/file. This technology saves time as more users conduct work on the go, right from their (often larger) smartphones or phablets. Team members no longer have to wait until they’re back at the office or sitting in front of a desktop to add their comments to a Word (or other) file.

More Businesses are Incorporating Socially Enabled Business Processes

In its listing of 2014 Technology Trends for Business, PricewaterhouseCoopers listed Socially Enabled Business Processes second only to Business analytics. Social Business Consultant Sean O’Driscoll notes that many businesses are integrating social and community communications tools into their business processes to enable a new generation of connected (and mobile) employees. O’Driscoll predicts that businesses that can successful harness these technologies will “reap valuable benefits from their relatively modest investments.”

 

Mobile technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and it’s important for businesses to leverage the latest trends for the maximum benefit. With so many new tools available it makes sense to incorporate the technologies that best enable the growing mobile workforce.

Ten Mobile Apps for Employees On the Go

As the global business landscape moves toward increasingly mobile communications, enterprises are faced with a constant, ever-evolving barrage of desktop and mobile applications designed to facilitate interaction among their employees. Employees also must communicate with everyone from freelance content developers and designers to worldwide clients, often through conferencing systems or applications designed for collaboration on cloud-stored content files.

In addition to strong functionality, intuitive interfaces, and compatibility with back-end systems, companies are concerned about the adoption rate and functionality of new apps – especially as more and more workers access them on mobile devices. Perhaps most urgent in the contact of the current mobile landscape, enterprises want applications with seamless integration between desktops and homebound infrastructure and mobile devices as an unprecedented number employees, contractors, and clients work on the go from coffee shops, airports, trains, and even automobiles as they conduct their business world-wide.

To add to the complications, now that enterprises and employees are sharing more data and content between company and personal devices, security is a key issue when it comes to the mobile workforce. According to Blake Brannon, a senior solutions engineer AirWatch by VMware, which produces enterprise mobility management software, “The cloud leakage problem is one of the greatest threats to enterprise content security. While many cloud solutions secure enterprise content within the cloud infrastructure, they often lack the controls necessary to keep mobile users from downloading and walking away with critical information on personal, unsecured devices.” Read the article.

In this ever-changing technological and mobile professional landscape, we’ve found ten current applications that have answered the call in an effort to securely and efficiently empower your mobile workforce.

buffer1

  • Buffer (bufferapp.com) is one of the newer kids on the block when it comes to social media posting, but it’s a handy one. Like a number of other social media platforms, the app enables users to compose numerous posts at one time, schedule them in advance (or Buffer will automatically schedule them for you) and choose which social profiles to send them to. Buffer automatically shortens links without the bother of an extra click and provides some useful analytics. Buffer for Business plans range from $50 to $250 per month, depending on the number of connected accounts, how many team members can be added, and how many RSS feeds companies want imported into their “buffer.”

box

  • Box (box.com) is a cloud platform that enables employees to securely store, share, and manage company files. Box helps companies do more with their content by offering secure file sharing and invitation-only online collaboration, file synchronization that syncs files between the desktop and online Box folders, the ability to view, share and edit any kind of file in any location, online or off, and more. A free 14-day trial is available at the company’s website, and PC Magazine awarded the company’s iPhone app 4 out of 5 stars, noting on their site that “The Box iPhone app gives you access to all those files you host in your Box account from practically anywhere….”

evernote

  • Evernote (www.evernote.com) is an organizational app that enables users to clip web articles, capture handwritten notes, and snap photos to keep the physical and digital details of projects available at all times. The app boasts powerful search and discovery features to make collected files easy to call up, and even makes the development of presentations easy with a feature that, with one click, transforms notes into an attractive screen-friendly visual layout. The free version provides a workspace for daily projects that syncs across devices, for $5 per month search features are expanded and offline access to notes on mobile is activated, and for $10 per month per user, centralized administration and co-worker collaboration is added to the mix.

mobileday logo

 

  • MobileDay (www.mobileday.com) helps companies regain control of mobile calling costs by using a nifty system called Dynamic Dialing. MobileDay auto-detects a caller’s location and maps that information to available dial-ins, selecting the most cost-effective option for each call.  No more remembering long dial-in numbers or conferencing instructions; one tap of a green button on a sleek, intuitive interface makes calling into virtually any enterprise conferencing system a breeze. The app is ‘Platform Agnostic,’ meaning users can join a Lync call or meeting with a colleague one minute, and then immediately switch to a client conference on any other conferencing service  – WebEx, GoToMeeting, Join.me, Google Hangouts, etc. – even in instances where data is not available. Writing for Inc. Magazine, Ilya Pozin named MobileDay one of the “10 Must Have Mobile Apps for Entrepreneurs.” Read the story.

Concur

  • Concur for Mobile (www.concur.com) enables employees to manage anything related to expense and/or travel in virtually any location. From booking and managing itineraries to capturing receipts and submitting expense reports (simply take a picture of each receipt, hit “export,” and ExpenseIt Pro automatically creates, itemizes and categorizes the expense entries) Concur can do it all through a smartphone app. One user reviewing the app at g2crowd.com notes: “The fact I can use my iphone to photograph receipts right there at the restaurant and not worry where I kept the little pieces of paper that fade before I can read them is simply a gift to wary [sic] traveler!”

jive

  • Jive Social Business Platform (https://www.jivesoftware.com/products-solutions/) Jive is a single communications and social collaboration hub that claims to keep a workforce informed, productive, and tightly aligned with company strategy. Named a Leader in the 2014 Magic Quadrant for Social in the Workplace, the company provides solutions for employee collaboration, customer and partner communities, and team task management. A case study for how the company’s product helped T-Mobile is available online at: https://www.jivesoftware.com/discover-jive/case-studies/t-mobile/.

yammer

  •  Yammer on the Go (https://about.yammer.com/product/mobile/ios/), is a mobile app designed for Yammer, Microsoft’s cloud-based enterprise social networking platform, to enable employees to access work conversations on their mobile devices. Users can create profiles, develop and work in groups, and initiate or participate in real-time conversations. Document collaboration functions are also provided. Push notifications let employees know about important activities as they occur.

Hootsuite

  •  Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com) is consistently ranked among the top applications designed for the management of numerous social media platforms through one central dashboard. Employees can view streams from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and more in one place, and can post, respond, or cross post directly from the app.

g2p-logo

  •  GoToMyPC (http://www.gotomypc.com/remote-access/) is the mobile version of Citrix’s remote access software, which lets employees control their desktop applications from remote locations. The free app works in conjunction with the desktop version of the same name along with a wireless connection. Reviewer Jeffrey Wilson notes: “The app works as advertised—I was able to control my work PC from a distance—but it could benefit from a more responsive interaction with the host computer.”

Tripit

How To Solve Challenges With Lync Mobile Adoption

MobileDay and Lync

As enterprise mobility becomes more prevalent, mobile adoption of Microsoft Lync remains poor due to fundamental issues with the platform’s mobile app. MobileDay provides companies with a versatile tool to enhance the joining experience and help bolster Lync mobile adoption rates.

 

Lync, Microsoft’s Unified Communications platform, has become a favorite among enterprises worldwide. The software suite allows for global, corporate-wide communication via voice, video, chat, presence, mobile, and conferencing. Despite a reported 90% of Fortune 100 companies using some flavor of Lync1, there are still some criticisms of the technology that seem to be universally emerging.

Single Platform Limitations

Is Unified Communications truly unified if it’s restricted to intercompany communication through a single platform? We didn’t think so. That’s why we made MobileDay ‘Platform Agnostic.’ This way, users can join a Lync call with a colleague and immediately afterwards join a client conference on any service of their choosing – be it WebEx, GoToMeeting, Join.me, Google Hangouts etc. – even in instances where data is not available.

Mobile Adoption

As seen in Lync’s app store reviews2, the mobile experience leaves much to be desired. The app is known for having poor UX/UI and in a recent survey, 48% of users reported the quality of service as being a barrier to Lync Mobile Adoption3. MobileDay acts as a workaround and it will actually bolster employee mobile adoption. By providing MobileDay’s sleek, user-friendly interface, employees can effortlessly scroll through their day’s schedule and join any Lync meeting with the touch of a button.

MobileDay is often mistaken for a full-fledged conferencing service –  this is not the case. It is a productivity tool that provides simple one-touch access into any conference call or meeting from your mobile device. As many Fortune 500 companies have found, MobileDay provides a complementary solution to the downfalls of Lync’s mobile user experience. As businesses continue to escalate mobile infrastructure, Unified Communications shouldn’t be restricted to the desktop just because of an incompetent mobile app.

Download the free version of MobileDay for your iOS or Android device and see how easy mobile conferencing can be.

1.)http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/cloud/ms_numbers.pdf

2.)https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lync-2013-for-iphone/id605841731?mt=8

3.)http://software.dell.com/documents/lync-adoption-and-challenges-a-survey-of-microsoft-lync-users-whitepaper-27100.pdf