Three steps to enabling a mobile workforce

As mobile technology and innovative solutions continue to enhance business productivity, the question that comes to mind for many is do we still need a physical office for successful business?

The days when all employees need to work in the same location, all the time, is fading fast as the mobile revolution changes the definition of a workspace for ever. Instead of a location-based, physical entity, offices are becoming virtual, comprised of a mobile workforce putting in the hours flexibly, wherever and whenever they it makes sense for them.

According to Strategy Analytics, the global mobile workforce is set to increase to 1.87 billion people in 2022, accounting for 42.5 percent of the total worldwide workforce. Looking at these numbers, it is obvious that mobility is going to be a big part of office culture in future, and that being able to support mobile working is going to be an important competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. This means, for companies of every size, it’s vital to know how to keep employees connected and productive whilst on the move.

Embrace BYOD and CYOD

The first step for enabling a mobile workforce is to allow employees to use their own mobile devices – phone, tablet or laptop. Embracing a culture of BYOD (bring your own device) and CYOD (choose your own device) – where employees select a device from a pre-selected number of options – helps to keep business costs down but it also comes with its own set of challenges. The inclusion of a variety of different mobile devices into the network is the primary challenge. Businesses need to be able to manage a diversified range of devices and their corresponding platforms including Apple® iOS, Android and Windows. Then, as most business applications are in Windows, the second challenge is to deliver these Windows-based work applications to the mobile devices employees want to use from Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android devices and more. Finally, there is the challenge of complying with security and data regulations. In a mobile workforce, company data leaves the office premises every day, and when devices are lost, often so is data. These challenges may seem intractable, but thankfully they can all be solved by moving to cloud-based computing.

Use the cloud

Cloud computing supports mobile workforce productivity because it can provide a platform to access physical documents and applications from anywhere. One solution is remote application delivery (RAS) with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). By hosting work resources – from everyday desktop applications to all company files and folders as well as proprietary applications – in a central cloud-based repository, a business can securely publish them to remote mobile users anywhere there is an internet connection.

Centralising application management through a cloud delivery platform, makes life much simpler for IT admins as when it comes to BYOD, IT can easily enforce a strict separation between business and personal data. By delivering cloud-based applications from a central location, it becomes easy for IT to back up endpoints, deploy and maintain security, and meet compliance regulations.

Digitise paper

It’s all very well using a mobile device for work tasks but what happens when you must deal with paper documents such as handouts, receipts, contracts, or business cards to name just a few? No one wants to manually transfer text and stats across from paper to digital, even if this was easy to do on a mobile phone or tablet.To be truly mobile, information must be able to move seamlessly between physical – i.e. paper – and digital environments. By digitising paper documents, the information on them becomes usable on a mobile device, a big plus for a mobile worker.

The best way to digitise paper based information is to use a mobile document scanner, which means being able to bypass a computer and scan directly to a mobile device. One that is WiFi enabled and connects seamlessly to any mobile be it Windows, iOS or Android, is what is required as well as being light-weight – some are only around 400g – and with a rechargeable battery so you can keep moving.

Business leaders can’t escape the fact that employee dynamics are changing, and with this comes an evolving set of expectations, needs and demands. The good news is that today there are a wealth of technologies and programs available to support remote workers and help organisations capitalize on the benefits of the modern workforce. For those wanting to drive productivity gains and cost reductions across their companies, they should consider each of these avenues.

About the Author

Jason Rowles is Regional Sales Manager for the UK and ROI at PFU (EMEA) Limited. PFU is a specialist company within the Fujitsu family, dedicated to information management solutions and enabling the worlds flow of knowledge.

Featured image: © Fxquadro