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How to get the most from your mobile workforce

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A move towards mobile working is an evident trend in today's office environment. Employers who want to attract the best and brightest need to be aware of this as they plan for a competitive future.

Work Smart, Work Mobile, a whitepaper published by office products supplier Leitz, points out that many of today's employees think about work not as something that they go to, but as something that comes to them. This is about much more than just working from home, it covers working on the go too.

Embracing this mobile change will allow your workforce to feel more empowered and engaged within their role, as well as gain a great balance between work and home life. Not only that, mobile employees will also be able to tend to your customer's needs much more efficiently.

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Here are some of the main areas to focus on:

Managing remote workers
Although you still need to keep an eye on what employees are up to, you have to instil your trust in them. It will be difficult to manage your employees who are on the go, so you'll need to implement a different style compared to that used for those who work within the office. Allow them a degree of flexibility in their workload and speak to them on a daily basis (be it a telephone conversation or just an email to check in) to make your employees feel more self-sufficient. Despite this added freedom, you still need to ensure they know who is in charge – if their work isn’t up to scratch or they are behind on deadlines, you need to tell them. Manage them at arm's length, but be prepared to take charge of the situation if necessary.

Good communication
There's no need to have people under your nose to keep in touch with them. Encouraging the use of instant messaging apps, such as Skype or Lync, not only allows you to monitor what's happening but can also bring far-flung employees together to collaborate and share ideas.

A quick daily update on what your employee has been doing, along with any snags or successes, is a good basic way of keeping you in touch and monitoring your mobile workforce. This can be backed up with a weekly half-hour Skype or Facetime session if you and your worker aren't together in the same place at any point during the week.

Changing the office environment
Embracing the mobile move and encouraging your employees to get the most out of a new way of working doesn't just mean flinging open the office doors and letting them go. Employers who truly value innovation and creativity are reshaping the environment inside the office and are creating informal spaces for people to meet and share ideas.

Great IT
To get the most from a workforce that is often out in the field, you need to invest in the technology tools that will allow employees to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Companies such as BT, who encouraged mobile working from an early stage, are consistently offering innovative IT solutions to support their mobile force.

Every employer's nightmare is data loss or theft, and taking care of your confidential property can be more challenging when your people are 'out there' carrying mobile devices full of priceless information. Consider a managed solution for your mobile devices, with software, security and encryption updated centrally, to help remove this source of stress. Staples Advantage offers complete solutions in this field.

With careful planning, a little investment and a change in mind-set about how the best people work, you’ll be able to get the most from your mobile workforce.

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