There has been a noticeable shift in the way organizations and employees go about their work in the last couple of decades, from an office-focused mindset to a more mobile one. A significant cause for this shift can be attributed to the development and advancement of technologies that have enabled the rise of mobile workforces. When the global pandemic forced businesses to shut offices, the concept of mobile workforces, incorporating remote or hybrid workers, gained increased traction and popularity among business leaders.
However, questions like what mobile workforces are and how to optimize mobile workforce management remain. Let us take a closer look.
What Is a Mobile Workforce?
Traditionally, mobile workforces referred to field-based workers and utility workers whose jobs entailed working at different locations. However, mobile workforces have recently come to encompass remote workers. Especially in the last year and a half, increasing adoption of remote and hybrid working due to the pandemic has seen a boom in mobile workforces across the globe. Mobile workforces are no longer limited to specific industries such as utilities and construction. Even traditional office-based employees are now being encouraged to adopt the work-from-anywhere mantra.
Workers everywhere are increasingly looking for flexibility and organizations are waking up to this trend. A 2021 survey by PwC has a few interesting findings on this matter.
- 83% of employers consider the move to remote work to be successful for their organization.
- 55% of employees want to work remotely for at least three days in a week.
- 52% of executives believe remote working has improved productivity.
- 79% of employees consider remote working to be a success.
- 32% of companies believe that remote working is not hurting their business performance and may even increase it in future.
All of these statistics underline the importance that both employers and employees are placing on having a mobile and flexible workforce.
How to Manage a Mobile Workforce
While organizations are slowly realizing the potential of a mobile workforce, managing them comes with its own set of challenges. One of those challenges is learning how to develop virtual work environments that are productive, secure, and highly collaborative.
To start, organizations must view mobile workforce management differently from office-based workforce management. Mobile workers will expect a different experience enabled through mobile devices. Some may even expect to bring their own devices to work. Of course, organizations must also look to adopting smaller and more portable devices, such as tablets and smartphones, in addition to laptops. Mobile devices are increasingly being considered full-fledged work devices.
Security will be a major concern for all. Mobile devices mean mobile applications, which may introduce newer security vulnerabilities into an organization’s ecosystem. Steps must be taken to beef up cybersecurity measures for mobile workers. Companies must also consider training programs and other initiatives to help educate mobile workers about security.
The rising adoption of mobile devices is also signaling the rise of custom mobile apps for work such as time tracking solutions. As developing these apps in-house is complex and costly, companies are looking for third-party apps to cover the needs.
5 Ways to Optimize a Mobile Workforce
A critical part of mobile workforce management is the technology component. Optimizing the technology used can go a long way in streamlining the operations of your mobile workforce. Here are some ideas you can implement.
Choose a Mobile Time Tracking App
No matter where your employees choose to work, you need to track their time to ensure accurate pay. A mobile time tracking app can empower your workforce to manage time and time off no matter where they are. Choosing a comprehensive mobile workforce management solution will ensure that your employees can do more than just punch in or out. They can also allocate time to tasks and activities, mark meal breaks, and apply for time off through the app. Cloud-based time tracking solutions can also automatically sync all time and attendance data between the mobile devices and the cloud, allowing managers and employees to view it in real time from any device of their choice.
Simplify Approvals and Management
Organizations must also consider the needs of the managers supervising the mobile workforce. It is imperative that the time tracking app simplifies the approval and management process for supervisors and managers. They should receive real-time notifications for all time and time off submissions. Any issues with the submissions should be automatically highlighted so that supervisors can immediately notice them and take necessary action. It should be possible to set up validation rules to define what an incorrect submission is.
Streamline Mobile Resource Management
Tools that allow for better and streamlined workforce management should be prioritized. Allow managers and supervisors to quickly view and edit allocations and monitor resource utilization. Offering a team calendar view can help managers easily track time off and allocation levels at a glance. This helps them make quick decisions in real time to respond to sudden changes such as absences.
Leverage GPS Capabilities
For better mobile workforce management, GPS capabilities can be a great addition. GPS allows for location intelligence to be tagged to timesheet entries. This data can be leveraged to make informed decisions on resource availability. For example, it becomes easier to track who is available and not and use that information to make decisions on shift management. For companies that have a field-based workforce, geo-fencing can be enabled to ensure employees log in from the right location. This reduces time theft as well as payroll administrative overheads.
Use Advanced AI Capabilities like Chatbots and Face ID
Artificial intelligence can streamline mobile workforce management further with capabilities like chatbots and facial recognition. Workers can use Face ID or Touch ID to quickly log in to the application to fill in their timesheets. There is no need to remember usernames and passwords. Moreover, facial recognition can be used to create a photo audit trail and prevent time theft. Time and attendance tracking becomes more unobtrusive with the help of chatbots. Mobile workers can simply talk to the chatbot to enter and edit time entries and time-off submissions or even make approvals. Using their voice instead of typing eliminates a lot of hassle while improving the experience.
Mobile workforces are here to stay and it is up to the organizations to start implementing measures to streamline their management. A robust cloud-based time tracking system can go a long way in achieving that. After all, accurate and easy time tracking can improve other processes such as project management and billing. Of course, an intelligent time tracking app can also improve resource efficiency as workers can focus on their tasks instead of worrying about timesheets.
Another crucial benefit of automated time tracking is ROI. Automated systems can go a long way in improving ROI levels by helping you fully utilize every minute of work. To learn more about how tracking time and attendance can improve productivity and reduce costs for your workforce — mobile or not — check out our ebook.