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5 Tips to Increase Mobile Worker Productivity

Man's headshot with blurred background By Jeff Porter February 26, 2016

Categories: Mobile Workforce

Today’s mobile employees not only have a lot of distance to cover, but they also have a lot to get done when they’re not driving. With 96.2 million mobile workers – and growing – making up 60% of our workforce, it’s time for businesses to start thinking about how to help their mobile workforce succeed.

The obstacles are formidable, and they aren’t going away. The pace of work is continuing to climb as technology seeps further into our lives and makes it easier to work anytime, mobile. This means mobile employees need the tools to do their work efficiently outside of the office, to communicate with their co-workers to ensure they are on the same page, and to make the most of the time when they aren’t on the road so they can get the work done that really matters.

Below are five tips for keeping your mobile employees productive and your business successful.

1. Invest in the Right Hardware

With limited time, the right hardware can make all the difference in getting the job done.

First and foremost, it’s up to employers to provide their employees with the right mobile devices – from laptops and tablets, to smartphones – so that they can work effectively on the go. Below are a few top-of-the-line mobile devices we recommend:

Even with the best mobile device, however, without connectivity the mobile employee is as good as dead in the water. Ensuring that employees can stay connected during long travel days is key to their success. A dead phone battery is no excuse for missing that conference call, and the down wi-fi in that internet café won’t make up for not being able to send in that urgent project. Keep your mobile employees’ batteries charged and their technology online no matter where they are:

  • Connect to wi-fi on the go with MiFi.
  • Keep devices charged with Mophie.
  • And turn cars into a mobile office with Zubie’s in-car wi-fi.

2. Invest in Communication

A January 2016 Gallup poll found that only 32.5% of employees are engaged at work. For companies with mobile employees, this is a particularly alarming stat given that low employee engagement has been linked to reduced productivity and profitability.

Mobile employees spend the majority of their time in the field, away from corporate offices or headquarters, and often away from their managers. They can easily feel disconnected from their company – and their company’s mission – while also occasionally being literally disconnected from their team and company by technological barriers.

As a result, communication with mobile employees is paramount to their success. This means investing the effort in keeping employees updated on company news, recognizing their accomplishments in the field, and ensuring that their managers are constantly communicating to discuss any issues as they come up. Here are some tips on how to improve direct communication with employees from Inc. and Entrepreneur.

At the same time, companies also need to invest in and take advantage of software and social technologies that can ease the difficulties of long distance communication between a team. The McKinsey Global Institute has found that the use of social technologies to improve communication, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within an enterprise has the potential for powerful impact on productivity. There are a variety of technologies companies can use for direct communication between mobile team members, including:

  • Slack is messaging app developed specifically for teams. Slack was named Inc. Magazine’s 2015 Company of the Year for a reason: in two years without any salespeople and hardly any advertising, the app has grown to 1.7 million users, including Salesforce, eBay, NASA, Intuit, and HBO. The reason is that Slack is an app that genuinely makes communication between team members easier and maybe even fun.
  • Smartsheet is a work and project management tool that enables companies to see how their employees are collaborating and with whom. Smartsheet features include file sharing, alerts & reminders, and Gantt charts, among others.
  • Enterprise Mobile Applications are custom mobile applications designed for your business. They can allow managers to avoid their communications getting lost in the clutter of emails while generating improved read & response rates, wasting less time, and allowing customized communication and interaction functions.

3. Provide a Way to Easily (and Securely) Share Files

Hand in hand with communication is secure and easy file sharing. Even if your mobile employees and their team are on the same page, if they aren’t working off the same document they are still basically running in place. This is one of the most serious issues facing mobile employees, who need the ability to keep their team up-to-date, to access files anytime, and to share large files that may exceed email attachment limits. Luckily cloud-based technology solutions are increasingly making file sharing easier and more secure. Below are a few recommended file sharing technologies:

4. Automate Administrative Tasks

Equally important as providing powerful communication and work tools is giving employees the time to use them. By eliminating time-intensive administrative tasks that are not the primary business function of employees, businesses can drastically increase the amount of time employees have to spend on their revenue-generating functions.

  • Concur provides a best-in-class solution to automate T&E tracking and management.
  • Salesforce’s cloud-based CRM enables sales reps to easily record their activities and manage their accounts while providing managers with visibility into field activity and business intelligence.
  • Motus automates mileage tracking and reporting, keeping your business IRS-compliant while eliminating tedious paper mileage logs for your mobile employees.

5. Integrate Systems

When leaders invest in the above automation tools, it eliminates employees’ once-manual tasks, but it can also mean multiple systems that mobile employees must log into. As a result, it’s important to integrate solutions when possible to reduce administrative burden and the need to maintain multiple systems of record. This is crucial to ensuring that mobile employees can spend their time as efficiently as possible. And with companies continually increasing their API integration abilities, it’s becoming easier and easier to do. Check out this Motus Beat post for more on the importance of integration and to make sure you are using your mobile workforce management technology as effectively as possible.

With these tips in your pocket, your business can take a few more steps towards keeping your mobile workers in motion, but also making sure that when they’re not, they are still moving your business forward.

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