The workforce, as we all know it, is changing. Especially the mobile workforce. The men and women who don’t sit behind a desk Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. They’re driving trucks to deliver goods and packages. They’re emergency responders and healthcare workers. They’re teachers, restaurant owners, construction workers, manufacturing personnel, and more.
And in 2020, the mobile workforce was the most needed and valued members of the workforce – COVID gave them no choice. They made up 78.5 million of the workforce and in the United States alone, they will grow to 93.5 million by 2024.
In fact, the IDC (International Data Corporation) found that “Mobile workers will be 60% of the total U.S. workforce by 2024.”
But what’s this got to do with you, the manager? Why does any of this matter? If you manage the mobile workforce, then you have noticed the demand for your services has increased. And with an increase in services comes a whole new set of challenges.
In this guide, we explore who the mobile workforce are, how they’re different from standard office employees, the challenges and solutions of mobile workforce management, why mobile employee software is critical to mobile workforce management, and the mobile workforce management trends defining 2021.
What is the “Mobile Workforce“?
The mobile workforce is exactly what it sounds like, employees who offer a service (or goods) to customers either on the go, on a site, or in the field. The mobile workforce is deskless.
There are a few industries that meet the definition of the mobile workforce, for example:
- Fishing and Hunting
- Wholesale and Retail
- Construction and Mining
- Oil and Gas
- Healthcare and social services
A recent report also found that “[the mobile workforce] has a specialized line of business such as sales reps, field workers/technicians, delivery drivers, registered nurses, and even telecommuters.”
How is the Mobile Workforce Different from the Regular, Standard Workforce?
The best way to define the “mobile workforce” is by understanding that this describes work that can be performed outside the traditional office. In fact, if we drill down even more, it’s work that can start in a single location and then end up in another.
Now, many assume that the mobile workforce is similar to that of the deskless employee, but that’s not entirely true. “The deskless workforce refers to jobs that don’t require sitting at a desk or computer in order to be completed,” writes Emergence.
Those who are deskless can easily execute their job while in a single location, or throughout many locations in a day (but that would make them mobile and not deskless).
It can be easy to confuse mobile and deskless work with telecommuting as well. However, telecommuting refers to work that is executed outside the traditional office setting. For example, most telecommuters will typically work a few days a week from home or a location that’s close to home, like a coffee shop. Telecommuters don’t go to the office at all.
As the mobile workforce continues to boom, it’s important to understand the challenges you face with mobile workforce management. And it’s even more pertinent to understand the solutions to these challenges. That’s exactly what the next section covers.
Mobile Workforce Management: The Challenges & Solutions
1. Effective Communication
This is virtually a no-brainer. If your employees are mainly mobile then it becomes a huge task to maintain open communication with everyone when you can’t physically see them or interact one-on-one with them.
Effective internal communication sets the groundwork for loyal and engaged employees. It’s these employees that will collaborate with one another, and are self-motivated, to meet (if not, exceed) the company goals.
Sending off emails or text messages only gets you so far. And if you’re like me, then you dread the intrusive and exhausting WhatsApp workgroup. WhatsApp doesn’t allow for any work-life balance or separation and with the new 2021 privacy changes, this isn’t the best tool for internal communication.
The solution: You have to use the right software to support all your employees. For example, office employees can survive with email, in-person meetings, and phone calls. Deskless employees, telecommuters, remote workers, and especially the mobile workforce need a mobile solution.
Using a work-only secure messaging or chat option within an employee communication app allows managers to set the tone for the work environment — positive, negative, tense, or encouraging.
What’s an employee communication app? An employee communication app is a tool that you and your employees use to “talk, share, and communicate with each other beyond traditional channels like email and phone calls.”
The best employee communication app is Connecteam, a true all-in-one solution that easily allows you to streamline communication, reduce pesky phone calls, and boost employee productivity.
#1 Communication App
Connecteam is the communication and collaboration app that moves work forward.
2. Employee Motivation
“Aside from the new technical challenges that remote workers bring to workplaces’ processes and procedures, easily the largest concern many companies have is how they can engage and retain their employees from the opposite side of the country or world,” said Nathalie Lynton, the director of Shared and Halved Consulting
It’s vital that you don’t forget just how important your employees really are. After all, they’re the ones dealing with your customers – they know their every complaint and compliment. And if your employees are feeling motivated to work at their best then your customers won’t be getting the best.
Managers must ensure their employees feel appreciated and motivated, every day.
The solution: Use your employee communication app to send praise, public praise. Share team-wide praise for a team or individual successes and let everyone join in with likes and comments.
However, don’t miss the opportunity to shine the light on your employees as well. Share birthday messages, work anniversaries, a positive review from a customer, personal milestones like marriage or a new baby, the employee of the month, and so on. While you should be professional, don’t forget that your employees are human too. Use the employee communication app to empower your employees and show them that the company culture is more than just employees clocking in and clocking out.
3. High Levels of Productivity
Provide your mobile employees with the resources they absolutely need at the exact moment that’s relevant. This means they won’t lose time searching for a resource and can instead focus on delivering excellent customer service.
“With anyone, remote or not, it’s essential to establish metrics and goals,” said Jonathan Erwin. “Judge someone’s effectiveness by their output, not by how long they’re at their desk or how hard it looks like they’re working.”
This means that you must also establish goals in order for both of you to be able to track the progress of these goals. This is why it’s so important that your employees have access to key resources if they’re to meet the quota at hand.
Sit together to establish what these goals should be, a collaborative approach can lead to better productivity.
The solution: Mobile workforce management software allows you to streamline scheduling and dispatching, task management, and communication via a single all-in-one solution. tools. The mobile employee software leads to fewer downtime and fewer inefficiencies which better employee and company performance.
4. Disconnect from Information on the Field
Effective collaboration with your mobile workforce can be a tall order, especially when your team is collecting data right from the field.
The solution: Implement an all-in-one solution so that your team can capture and relay data through their mobile phone, which lands right at your desk in real-time. This allows you oversight on how effective your mobile workforce is and where projects stand – especially if additional resources are needed to improve productivity and execution.
“I don’t have to go chase any workers to get their receipts or anything, instead, it’s all on the app and uploaded into this one workflow which has definitely streamlined the process,” said Ricky from Mattest Materials Testing regarding his experience with the Connecteam employee app
5. Employee Trust
Regular check in’s are a great way to ensure your mobile workforce is doing what they’re supposed to and helps keep you updated on all project standings, however, if you’re micromanaging then you’re causing trust issues. All of which leads to low productivity and morale.
“Trust that your workers are doing what you pay them to do, even if you’re not always there to check-in. While many of the personality traits and behaviors required for telecommuting can be vetted during the hiring process, you never really know if their personality is a good teleworking fit until someone comes on permanently. Trust is earned, and it’s earned over time and that street runs both ways,” said Sean O’Brien, the chief strategy officer at PGi
The solution: To start, ensure that your hiring process is effective and efficient. Then make sure that the candidate you hire hits all of the core qualities you’re looking for. These combined should lay the foundation for trust earned from you. Remember that trust earned is a two-way street so be present to help them through problems that may come up by offering feedback and advice.
The Benefits of Mobile Employee Software
Bryan Bassett, the senior research analyst at IDC’s Enterprise Mobility: Deployment Strategies program said, “The ability to quickly mobilize different segments of a company’s workforce with capable and secure mobile solutions has never been more important, and U.S. organizations are signaling that investment in mobile-based management and security solutions will take precedence in 2020 and beyond.”
But what is mobile employee software? It’s a toolbox of solutions that allow you to schedule, track, engage, and analyze your mobile workforce’s performance and daily operations. Mobile employee software is accessible on the go, from any location, and at any time.
The benefits of mobile employee software are a mile long but we want to drill down on a few specifics that we know will make your daily operations a breeze. For example:
- Create and distribute schedules with the click of a button
- Dispatch new jobs to your mobile workforce
- Communicate and engage your team in real-time
- GPS time tracking so you know the exact location and timestamp for when employees clock in and out
- Manage time off and vacation requests on the go
- Shift information under one roof – access and key information per shift like time, location, tasks to complete, pictures, e-signature, and more
- Create one-time tasks with detailed task descriptions, subtasks, attach images and files, set up due dates, and more
- Automate checklists, reports, and forms from the field – include image capture in real-time, geo-stamps, detailed dropdown lists, voice recordings, file attachments, and more
With all of the above available on most mobile employee software solutions, many managers are choosing Connecteam as their mobile employee software. Why? For starters, it offers every single one of the benefits we listed above and then some. And, Connecteam is available on the go, easy to use, and super affordable.
Top Employee Management Software
Connecteam is the employee app that connects everything a business needs from field to office, all in one place.
Mobile Workforce Management Trends in 2021
Mobile Employee Software is a Must
Automating paper-based tasks is something we have explored in this guide as it’s critical to help reduce manual data entry time. Plus, it helps increase productivity, accuracy, and efficiency.
Today’s generation is far more tech-savvy and they expect that your company will offer them the mobile employee software they need to execute their job role and duties effectively.
Mobile employee software offers access in real-time, from the comfort of your own smartphone, and push notifications to keep everyone aligned (along with tuned-in dashboards that offer a birds-eye view of your team’s engagement at a glance).
“Mobile access is increasingly becoming table stakes; enabling employees to view schedules, swap shifts, and gain control of their work-life balance via mobile employee self-service and is key for employee retention and engagement,” says Trevor White, Principal Analyst at Nucleus Research
Employee Engagement is a Must
We already made it clear from the first sentence of this guide that the workforce is changing. But not just in where and how they get their job done. The workforce is also multigenerational.
The thing is, the younger generation craves a workplace that is technologically advanced, has opportunities for growth, and has a company culture that nourishes employee engagement. Especially when studies show that almost three-quarters (71%) of younger workers “are either not engaged, or actively disengaged.”
Knowing that your mobile workforce is the sole representative of your company (the face), it’s not surprising that the more engaged your workforce is, the more likely they are to deliver amazing customer service.
So, keep them in the loop on how the company is doing, share insights, shine the spotlight on star employees, send surveys to understand their happiness levels, keep discussions light with GIFs or fun videos, align them on new policies or procedures, share messages from top management (like the CEO or senior leadership), celebrate personal milestones (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), and more.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a Game-changer
AI helps managers to streamline smarter business decision-making so that you can deliver the best goods and services optimizing store performance.
Sure, once upon a time managers had the experience, staffing, and cash flow to maintain this decision-making process on their own shoulders. However, with so many new businesses out there, not all managers have this experience under their belts. This is why AI solutions give them a leg up.
The Bottom Line on Mobile Workforce Management
Managing a mobile workforce is probably one of the most challenging things in this day and age. You are responsible for a team of people, personalities, and projects. Managers with remote employees should be given a medal for being able to juggle a million things from afar. An employee management app softens this edge by creating an easy way to communicate, delegate tasks, and build relationships — key ingredients in managing a successful team, whether next door or across the pond.
#1 Employee Management App
While on the go, enhance employee management with the only all-in-one app.Learn more