Little known ways to boost your mobile workforce [it’s not what you think]
Technology has become the enabler of Mobile Work. According to Strategy Analytics’ latest report, the global mobile workforce is set to increase to 1.87 billion in 2020 and will account for 42.5% of the global workforce. Levels of mobility among professionals have increased mainly due to the rise of advancement in mobile applications and technology as well as globalization.
What is mobile workforce management?
5 Key challenges in mobile workforce management and ways to address them
Although increasing mobility within the workforce offers numerous benefits, it can also create unique challenges compared to conventional human resource management. Tim O’Reilly, the founder, and CEO of O’Reilly Media has said that digital technology is entering the real world and creates new possibilities with hazards not yet known to us.
In this article, we will take a look at the challenges of managing remote employees and how to overcome them while boosting mobile workforce effectiveness.
The results are surprising.
What is Mobile Workforce Management (MWM)?
According to TechoPedia, a mobile workforce refers to employees who are working from different physical locations as opposed to doing their job in the company’s office.
Mobile employees are providing services in the field, often on-site with a customer and are usually connected by mobile devices via the Internet. Maintenance technicians and couriers are just two examples of mobile workforce positions.
Mobile workforce management (MWM) covers all activities required to perform tasks including:
to schedule tasks,
track and analyze the field performance
optimize task efficiency
automation using a collection of tools
Simply put, MWM is the automation of the whole end-to-end workflow and procedures.
MWM tools replace more legacy planning and paper tasks forms with smart electronic scheduling and allow them to simultaneously prepare work for multiple workers. In addition to saving hours on manual planning, employees in the field will receive their daily tasks directly on their mobile devices using an app.
All the required information and documents will be included in a digital form, so tasks can be finished in the field without the need to return to the office. After the automation of scheduling, routing, and signature gathering, administrative processes become faster and allow customers to be invoiced quicker.
Note: Field service management is often considered a synonym to mobile workforce management. To maximize the potential of your mobile workforce, it is important to understand the difference between the two.
Key challenges to effective mobile workforce management [and how to address them]
Despite the advantages, leading a mobile workforce includes a share of challenges, and overcoming them should be a priority for any business manager.
1# Insufficient tools
People are increasingly using smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Both for personal and professional use. Studies highlight that the number of smartphone users will reach 3.5 billion by the year 2020 (Statista). 41% of mobile workers have a tablet and 87% of them use it for at least some of their work (iPass).
It would appear that in today’s technology-driven world, working efficiently from the road should be fairly easy. Nevertheless, without providing remote workers with easy-to-use tech tools that integrate with the company’s core systems like CRM and ERP, the workflow will never become stable enough to maximize efficiency and employees will soon lack motivation.
What to do.
Using a mobile workforce management software that is a web-based system will empower managers to automate all tasks that otherwise would need to be done manually. For employees, it is a handy gadget that works as a communication tool. Plus as a task management and documentation platform, it makes on-the-go working both easy and enjoyable.
Digital software ensures higher operational accuracy and provides valuable data about the entire business process. There is a wide range of options available on the market, but it is imperative to single out a solution that is user-friendly and achieves business objectives.
2# Absence of supervision
One of the biggest struggles mobile workforce managers face is the lack of sufficient supervision. When employees are scattered around various locations, tracking their work and reaching out to them when necessary becomes difficult.
Not having the possibility to physically see where workers are located and what they are doing should not become an issue, provided the work is done correctly and on time. However, employees who get off track or do their job incorrectly may cost the company valuable time and resources.
What you should do.
Using a remote tracking system with time stamps allows locating mobile workers and tracking their progress via GPS in real-time. It is a simple function provided by professional mobile workforce management apps that pinpoints areas of inefficiency and maintain high productivity throughout the day.
For managers, it is important to monitor the entire work progress, rather than only seeing the final result. Real-time task status updates and notifications provide a constant overview of what is happening in the field and allow taking action immediately when problems occur.
3# Painstaking manual tasks
According to Smartsheet, repetitive tasks take up at least 40% of employees’ work time, which could be put to better use doing higher-value work. Every business should strive to get more out of its resources not only to make more profit but reduce operational costs.
Process automation is the keyword to achieving high effectiveness in the mobile workforce. More and more enterprises use software to automate repetitive business processes that have to be error-free and could be completed without human intervention.
A time-costly and tedious task that remote work managers deal with every day is undoubtedly route planning and optimization. Modern mobile workforce management apps assign daily tasks to agents automatically while mapping and optimizing driving routes at the same time.
Not only does this eliminate human error but cuts costs on fuel and raises customer satisfaction levels with faster and better quality service.
What you can do to beat this.
Use of automation software will provide seamless data collection from the field about driving and task completion times as well as other valuable metrics that could help managers enhance their business processes.
Collecting this information by hand and entering it to Excel would take hours compared to opening the statistics menu and seeing the automatically analyzed data on graphs.
Various industries still rely on employees entering information from paper documents into computer systems.
Automating data capture enables documents to be processed faster, decreases the chance of human errors and saves considerable resources that would otherwise be spent on paper.
4# Documentation issues
Undertaking paperwork is tricky when on the move, yet the importance of documentation of in-field assignments like service reports or proof of delivery notes, that need to be saved in company files, should not be ignored.
Filling out client paperwork correctly and storing it safely when having a vehicle as the main workplace is anything but simple.
Documents can easily get damaged or lost and employees’ handwriting might be difficult to read, making it complicated for the office staff to follow up or process transactions.
Paperless document management can be achieved with digital records that can easily be filled out on a smartphone.
What you can do.
Using modern task management apps allow adding photos and signatures to documents and store them safely on a cloud-based system. Files are instantly accessible for the office staff, excluding the need to bring paperwork back to the office and entering data manually.
5# Lack of communication
While your remote workforce may be out of office, they still have clear communication and collaboration needs. Whether it’s assigning tasks across departments or sending a question back to the main office, communication is essential to operate efficiently and prevent low morale.
68% said that they use text messaging as a preferred communication method at work.
Traditionally, communication has been managed via paperwork and manual processes – agendas, task sheets, and so on.
When a change occurs in the daily work schedule, managers should try to contact their employees via text call or texting, but cannot always expect the worker on the field to answer or see the message.
The paper-based process causes problems by creating a slow and inflexible way of interacting with mobile team members.
How you can communicate better.
When running a remote team, it is imperative to use communication tools that equip them with essential information during the day as well as allow them to reach out for help if needed.
Advanced mobile workforce management software has a built-in messaging platform, that allows sending in-app text messages to team members and customers plus including photos, videos, and documents. Mobile workforce management software provides seamless communication between all parties on a single platform.
As almost 50% of the global workforce is set to become mobile by the year 2022, businesses need to be able to overcome the challenges this presents.
It might be difficult to remain competitive in the era of Mobile Work, so companies constantly need to review their technology investments and focus on taking advantage of new technological opportunities.
As mobile transformation has many benefits in terms of employee satisfaction, expenses, and productivity, enterprises are slowly but surely making the switch.
When choosing a mobile workforce management software, it is imperative to adopt a solution that will benefit as many business processes as possible.
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