What is mobile workforce management?
Throughout history, we’ve seen a handful of major shifts in the working landscape, dictated by the advent of new technology. The industrial revolution saw factories take over from agriculture, then the typewriter and telephone saw many people make the move towards office jobs (including women) in the 1950s and 60s. Then, the invention of the internet completely changed the way we work, and the level of connectedness we are now accustomed to.
Today, thanks to cloud technology, we are in the midst of another major shift towards a less centralized, more mobile workforce. With this shift comes the need for new ways to manage these mobile employees - something known as mobile workforce management.
In this article, we’ll cover what is mobile workforce management, the benefits and disadvantages, and how your organization can use it to manage your mobile workers or volunteer team.
What is mobile workforce management?
A mobile workforce is defined as a workforce of individuals who work outside a physical office location. While the rise of working from home has dramatically increased the number of people working outside a physical office, we also have to consider deskless workers, or field workers as they are also known in this description.
What does mobile workforce mean?
A mobile workforce includes people in the following professions who don’t work at a physical desk or location:
- Retail employees
- Customer service specialists
- Gig workers such as Uber drivers
- Event staff
- Construction or tradespeople
- Sales reps
- Maintenance staff
- Health care workers
- Remote workers
- Hospitality staff
A mobile workforce may not be tied to a desk, but they still need access to workforce tools that allow them to do their jobs and stay connected to their team. This may include tools for procurement, scheduling and rostering, communication, logging jobs, time tracking, IT, HR and performance management.
This movement towards an ‘anytime, anywhere’ flexible style of working is growing in popularity, and as such, so is the technology that supports this. The advent of cloud technology (data stored centrally, rather than in a physical location) has been the major catalyst for this shift to a new way of working. With data being stored in the cloud, all employees have equal access to it anytime, from anywhere, without ever needing to step into an office.
Plus, automated time tracking tools and remote check-ins allow gig workers, and those who don’t work regular hours to ensure they aren’t missing out on pay, nor wasting time on additional admin.
Why use mobile workforce management?
The benefits and power of a mobile workforce are immense. Nearly 70% of all respondents in a CITO research survey cited improved business processes as the motivation to adopt a more mobile culture. However, at the same time, they know that a more mobile workforce demands its own set of workforce management tools.
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to retrofit outdated technology into a new way of working. It’s the quickest way to create inefficiencies, unhappy staff and lose competitive advantages.
Technology that simplifies mobile or field workers' lives is going to keep staff happy and help them work better, while ensuring everyone stays visible and building transparency. Used correctly, mobile workforce technologies can create borderless workplaces, a better work/life balance outside the office, and a dynamic world, with equally dynamic staff.
“Mobile devices and platforms like the cloud permit heightened mobility and encourage creative innovation without being strapped to a desk. This freedom results in a more efficient worker, a competent workplace, and a better bottom line,” writes Daniel Newman, co-CEO of V3B, in Forbes.
At the same time, cloud platforms that support mobile workforce management encourage staff to be creative, innovative, and think outside the box as they don’t need to be strapped to a desk, writes Newman. This sort of trust and freedom is especially sought after by millennials and young people, who prioritize work/life balance over stability.
Mobile workforce management benefits
It’s been well-documented that employees enjoy the benefits of flexible work hours, less time spent commuting, and more time with family and friends. All this can lead to an increase in productivity.
However, it’s essential that companies put the processes and systems in place to ensure workers can do their job effectively. When this happens, the benefits of effective mobile workforce management include:
- The ability to manage and recruit from a global workforce
- Empowering field workers to manage their own days - from time tracking, to solving customer issues and logging jobs - without needing to involve head office staff, or wait until they get access to a computer
- Get access to a range of insights through software, such as performance metrics, average job times, and time and location stamps, that can all be used to improve performance
- Reduce costs by reducing the amount of office space needed for staff
- Stay in constant communication
- Treat all employees equally, regardless of their job role by providing equal access to internal information and driving transparency
- Equip your team with the skills and experience needed to be part of the digital transformation and stay competitive in a fast-paced digital world
- Document and save everything in the cloud, so nothing gets lost or misread
The other thing mobile workforce management software such as Rosterfy can do is provide you with a better understanding of how your program is running through reports. These may include the status of shifts, training updates, timesheets and check-in rates. They can also provide you with data such as demographics and documentation.
What are the disadvantages of a mobile workforce?
There are some disadvantages to a mobile workforce that need to be considered, so they can be proactively managed. These include:
- Increased risk of security issues
With a large remote workforce connecting to public WiFi, 4G data, or home networks, it’s much harder to centralize and have full control over cyber and data security. This makes organizations with a large remote workforce more vulnerable to cybercrime and online security threats. To combat this, companies need to be especially vigilant with the mobile workforce management software providers that they procure. Companies may choose to set up a private VPN for all employees, or encourage staff to only use company issued devices that have the appropriate security protocols installed.
Without face-to-face communication, it’s easy for messages to be misinterpreted or misunderstood. To build effective communication throughout the team, provide regular diversity, inclusion and communication training, facilitate opportunities to meet each other through video conference calls, or organize occasional in-person social meetups.
- Company culture
How do you develop company culture with a mobile workforce? It is definitely harder to promote and build strong mobile teams. When you have a mobile workforce, building a strong company culture comes down to treating all employees as valuable assets to your company. Get to know your employees and their preferences, and act on requests or feedback. Involve staff in decision-making and ensure employees are connected to the organization’s mission and goals. Don’t forget about staff benefits such as childcare discounts, health and wellness, bonuses and perks that don’t need an office environment to be utilized.
Mobile workforce management software simplified with Rosterfy
Rosterfy is a leader in workforce management software. Our technology simplifies and streamlines all aspects of managing a team of mobile volunteers or staff. So, whether your mobile teams are working on the London Marathon or volunteering for Cancer Council Victoria, Rosterfy can help everyone stay connected, informed, visible and engaged.
Rosterfy’s cloud based mobile workforce management solution and mobile-friendly site can be used to:
- Recruit volunteers or staff
- Onboard, conduct trainings and communicate
- Handle shifts, scheduling updates and shift changes straight to a mobile device
- Check in and check out onsite from the user’s mobile phone
- Utilize Geofencing to validate hours worked and submit timesheets confidently
- Keep track of staff check ins and outs in real time, both from onsite and afar, across multiple events and locations
- Distribute volunteer rewards
- Report on workforce engagement including last login and open rates to better understand your volunteers
If you’d like to learn more about how Rosterfy can help you manage your mobile workforce more effectively, book a demo of our product today.
Technology means it should be as easy to manage a mobile workforce as it is to be a mobile worker. If your organization is struggling to stay on top of managing a mobile or field workforce, it’s worth investing in a solution that is purpose-built for this problem. Not only will it streamline your administrative work, it will build trust and allow you to grow and accomplish more.
Organizations need to be very clear about the tasks and goals that they need their workforce to be able to accomplish, then develop a mobile workforce management plan through that lens.
A mobile-first approach will ensure that any mobile workforce management software deployed for workers outside an office is at least as intuitive and engaging as the type of apps and management systems that staff use outside of work.
Read more about workforce management on our blog: