Mobile and remote working is becoming ever more popular. What impact is this having on business? And how can you ensure effective communication and collaboration among employees on the move?
Traditional daily working – the commute to an office for a 9-to-5 working day and a commute home – is changing with every new technology that develops.
'Employers are realising the benefits of having a mobile workforce'
From smartphones and tablets to enterprise mobility and collaboration tools, it's becoming increasingly easy for people to work remotely and on the move.
Better still, they can still be efficient, engaged and productive. Employers are realising the benefits of having a mobile workforce and are embracing the technologies that are making this possible.
It's estimated that by 2022, 42.5% of the global workforce will be mobile. It's a figure that can only increase as Gen Y-ers – digital natives almost from birth – enter the workplace.
By 2020, Generation Y, who have grown up using instant messaging, Instagram and Facebook will make up 35% of the workforce. They'll also bring their expectations of on-demand technology. Companies that are slow to embrace the instant actionability that ambitious Gen Y-ers expect may find that they frustrate an otherwise willing, able and productive workforce.
Remote working and a mobile workforce. What impact do they have on businesses?
Happy employees are more productive employees. They also tend to stay with a company for longer. It's well known that flexible working gives employees a better work-life balance and family time, and minimises the stress of commuting and the disruptions of working in a busy office environment.
- Fewer absences. Employees who work from home also seem to take fewer sick days. This may be due to reduced stress levels or exposure to fewer germs. It's also easier for people to attend dental and medical appointments with flexible working
- Cost reduction. Allowing employees to work remotely can reduce your costs. With business rates and office space at a premium, smaller offices, hot desking and supplying portable devices can help reduce overheads
- A wider talent pool. Businesses can tap into the huge talent pool of work-from-home freelancers and consultants on a project-by-project basis. Freelancers get the flexibility and choice they want, while employers save on recruitment costs and employee benefits
- Environmental wins. Even the environment benefits from a mobile workforce and remote working. More working from home means fewer commuter miles. And that results in lower CO2 emissions from vehicles and less overcrowding on public transport
How can you make sure that your mobile workforce collaborates effectively?
The efficacy of your mobile workforce or remote working initiatives depends on how well you manage and support them. There are risks that out-of-office workers may feel isolated, miss out on the team spirit and be harder to communicate with. And home working doesn't suit everyone.
'And that helps people and organisations get more done and be more productive'
But collaborative working platforms such as Workplace can help make sure that everyone stays part of the team. For example, Hootsuite found that team members were missing out on the key information held in working groups, presentations or messages.
Using Workplace tools such as Groups and News Feed, Hootsuite was able to streamline how people communicate with each other. This enabled ideas to flourish and provides new ways to share them. And that helps people and organisations get more done and be more productive.
Workplace isn't only a platform for sharing information and collaborating on projects. It's also a great way for socialising and building strong professional relationships within the team.
To the extent that the whole team – wherever they are in the world – feel they are among friends while working. And where everyone can freely communicate, contribute and give their best to each project – whether they're at work, at home or on the go.
Using Workplace to collaborate and get work done
But the impact of Workplace at Virgin Atlantic has evolved, going way beyond simple communication. "It shortcuts the ability of people to ask questions and send information", says Don. For example? "I have a weekly IT stand-up. Someone films it on their iPad and puts it on Workplace a few minutes later."