Throughout history, we’ve seen a handful of major shifts in how a workforce exists. For example, the industrial revolution brought factories, lowered labor costs and poor working conditions. Fortunately, the workplace has changed since then, giving employees far better working environments and improving workplace attitudes. Some of the modern revolutions include the addition of technology, such as workforce management software, which helps to streamline HR practices. Currently, we’re living in the early stages of yet another workplace shift with more and more businesses prioritizing a mobile workforce.
A mobile workforce benefits both employees and employers — so, it should come as no surprise that it is on its way to becoming the new normal for the workplace. But what exactly is a mobile workforce and what does mobile workforce management look like in practice? It’s all less complicated than it might seem, and we’ve got the full breakdown of everything you need to know right here.
What Is a Mobile Workforce?
The days of working standard business hours in the office are quickly becoming an outdated business practice and for good reason. Providing benefits to both employees and business owners, mobilization of the workforce is an increasingly popular trend with over 50% of US workers working remotely at least once per month in 2019, according to OWL Labs.
A mobile workforce is definable as a group of employees who work in a variety of locations and are connected through the internet. With team members spread across the globe, performing a variety of jobs from devices of all kinds, the mobile workforce allows businesses to utilize the best talent no matter where they’re based. However, what this looks like in practice will vary from business to business depending on the requirements of the job, individual roles within the team and organizational needs.
With advancements in technology, it’s now possible for many workers to complete their daily job duties from anywhere — so long as they have some way to connect to the rest of their team. While there are plenty of employees who never commute to the office, the mobile workforce involves more than just full-time remote workers. A mobile workforce also accounts for team members who work remotely just a couple of days a month and workers who travel between different offices frequently.
The Shift to a Mobile Workforce
The increasing number of millennial and Gen Z employees entering the workforce has shifted general attitudes towards what factors contribute to a positive work environment. The younger generations entering the workforce prioritize a greater work-life balance — and they’re seeking jobs that offer that.
The ability to work remotely, even just a few days a month, allows employees to take care of business outside of work. From taking off in the middle of the day to go to an appointment or even just working non-traditional hours to drop the kids off at school, employees are beginning to value additional perks, such as working remotely, almost as much as their paycheck. In fact, over 40% of employees would take a pay cut for a job that prioritizes this kind of flexibility.
Though the shift to a mobile workforce is a relatively recent transition, it’s far from surprising. There are numerous benefits not only for employees, but for businesses as well. We’ve broken down a few of the key benefits contributing to the increasing popularity of remote work to give you a better understanding of why businesses and employees both prefer a mobile workforce.
Better Work-Life Balance
We spend approximately one-third of our lives working. If you do your best to get the recommended eight hours of sleep every night, then an additional third of your life is spent sleeping. After that, an average person is left with only one-third of their life to dedicate to friends, family and hobbies. With such little time left for the things that people care about most, it should come as no surprise that many workers prioritize a healthy work-life balance over a paycheck.
Allowing employees to work remotely enables them to give their attention to personal matters, without sacrificing the quality of their work or reducing productivity. Perhaps the most noteworthy way that remote work benefits employees is by cutting down their commute time. The ability to work from home — or any other space where they feel productive — can save the average employee over 100 hours of commute time each year.
This allows your employees time to sleep in so they’re better rested when it’s time to work. Or, perhaps your employees will utilize this extra time to walk their kids to school without the stress of being late. The freedom to work in small moments for themselves throughout the day — whether it be taking a lunch break to spend with their family or just taking the dog for a walk — allows your employees to complete all of their work without sacrificing important parts of their personal lives.
Increase Employee Job Satisfaction
Employees with a healthy work-life balance are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. The ability to pick kids up from school or even just take care of small household chores when they need to take a brief break between tasks gives your employees the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they won’t have to miss important moments, like their child’s first day of school, or worry about coming home from work to a laundry list of chores. When their job works with their personal lives, employees are more satisfied with their work — and are more likely to stay, helping to reduce turnover rates.
However, the freedom to work remotely improves the employee experience in more ways than improving work-life balance. It’s hard to imagine hating a job that allows you to work from the comfort of your own sofa, with coffee brewing just a few feet away in the kitchen. Remote work gives employees the flexibility to work from any location where they feel comfortable and can be their most productive.
These factors help organizations show they care about their employees and improving employee job satisfaction. In fact, full-time remote workers report feeling happy with their job 22% more often than on-site employees. Consequently, those workers are also 13% more likely to stay at their job for the next five years.
Stumbling out of bed to your laptop at the kitchen table might not sound like a typical morning commute for anyone but a remote worker — but it sounds better than the standard of battling morning traffic. However, with all the distractions of a day at home, it seems reasonable that remote workers would be less productive. When the sink is full of dishes or the dog wants to go for a walk, it can be awfully tempting to shut down the computer and take care of things at home. Surprisingly, the opposite is true.
Mobilizing the workforce allows employees to work from wherever, which gives them the freedom to work in an environment that is most conducive to their productivity. While it’s true that remote workers take longer breaks throughout the day, those breaks are actually more of a benefit than a detriment. A recent survey revealed that remote workers are almost 80% more productive, can complete more work in less time and will work longer hours than the average on-site worker.
Because a mobile workforce has flexibility in where they can work, they greatly reduce the need for office space. With many employees working from home, their favorite coffee shop or a coworking space, your business can eliminate the expense of renting an office and use those funds for other business needs.
Additionally, remote workers are less prone to taking sick time. With the freedom to work from home, employees are able to stay home to rest and take care of themselves without missing time from work. When those colds turn into something more serious and remote workers need to take a sick day, they often return to work much sooner than on-site workers.
Mobile Workforce Management
Without a centralized workspace, managing a workforce based in numerous of locations can seem daunting. While it may seem like you’ll be constantly connecting puzzle pieces from different boxes, managing a mobile workforce is actually far easier than you’d think. All you’ll need is the right tools.
Regardless of your business, your top priority should guarantee that employees can communicate with one another effectively. Because meetings won’t occur in the conference room, you’ll want to be sure you have an effective system for communication — and there are plenty of helpful tools on the market. A few of the products you might want to implement include:
- A messaging platform such as Slack that allow team members to send messages and post updates to message boards.
- Organizational workflows provided by vendors like Trello and Asana. These tools provide everyone on the team with visibility into what stage of the process any given project is in.
- An online meeting space. Google offers this through Google Meet, which allows everyone to conference in so that you don’t have to sacrifice face-to-face meetings, even when everyone is in a different place.
There are plenty of systems that can facilitate this and do much more. Workforce management software can complete a variety of tasks, including building schedules, time tracking and generating reports based on workforce data. However, if your workforce is mobile, then there are a few key features you’ll want to look for when implementing one of these systems.
- Performance Management: Managers can leverage this feature to track employee performance and give feedback in real-time. While many remote employees are more productive and efficient, there will always be employees who get a bit too cozy on the couch when they’re working. By monitoring and providing feedback regularly, managers can ensure that the team’s performance never suffers because of challenges faced by working at home.
- Mobile Capability: With the team spread across different locations and utilizing different devices, you’ll want to ensure that all members of the team can log into the platform.
- Tracking and Management: This feature allows users of all types to access information such as pay, benefits and time off. With decentralized workspaces, it will be important that employees have visibility into their personal information so they can quickly address any inaccuracies before they become problematic.
- Administrative Controls: While it’s important for employees to have control of their information, you don’t want to give up too much control. Administrative controls allow managers to set rules about who can access what information and who can make changes.
- Integrations: Once you’ve implemented some of the tools we mentioned above, you’ll want to be sure that whatever workforce solution you use is compatible. This will help to streamline all of your workflows.
The Wrap Up
Increasingly, workers are prioritizing their personal lives and job satisfaction when looking for a job. With work-life balance being a top priority, benefits such as company-sponsored lunches are becoming less enticing when contrasted with the ability to work remotely. As such, many businesses are embracing the shift to a mobile workforce.
In a world where nearly everyone is connected by technology, there’s no reason for businesses to stay stagnant by ignoring the opportunities provided by mobilization. With so many benefits, the only questions left to ask are how soon will you join the growing mobile workforce — and what tools will you use to manage it?