Is your Company Keeping Pace with the Rise of Mobile Working?
The modern business world has been reshaped, regardless of whether you operate as an SMB in a niche market or a global player in corporate enterprise. While the days of 9 to 5 / 5 days a week office-based working are not yet extinct, they may well soon be. Why you ask? The fact of the matter is, that priorities have changed for both employers and employees. Employers are looking to increase their reach outside of their local markets. As for employees, the prospect of greater financial reward is no longer as attractive as it once was, particularly amongst the so called Y & Z Generations who place greater importance on work-life balance and flexibility. Interestingly, while these two stand points initially appear to oppose each other, the advent of a whole host of mobile VoIP and UCC technologies enable both sides to achieve their goals, which has lead to emergence of the “anytime, anywhere information” workforce.
The question, however, is “Mobile Working” just a passing phase or an effective long term business strategy? According to Forrester, as of 2013, 29% (23% in 2011) of the global workforce are considered to be anytime, anywhere information workers.
But what does this actually mean?
Simply put, an anywhere, anytime worker is someone who works from multiple locations, whilst utilising 3 or more mobile devices in order to carry out their everyday tasks. Ring any bells yet? If so, great, you’ve identified a need to assess your organisations Mobile Working readiness. If not - read on to find out why you should.
Why Businesses Should Embrace Mobile Working?
While it is true that there are plenty of job roles within modern business that require employees to undertake office or on-site based working, a significant majority can be performed remotely. This is compounded when you consider the amount of travelling some employees must do, either in the field, to satellite offices, and/or internationally. If these travelling employees are not immediately contactable by both customers and colleagues, the possibility of missing important calls or business opportunities is greatly increased. That’s where Mobile Working comes into play. When operating an IP PBX system that delivers UC features whilst promoting Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) which connects remote workers via their mobile devices, these risks are minimised and therefore increase employee productivity even whilst travelling.
Additionally, there are a whole host of other significant factors to consider. In the UK, for example, ITV recently reported the daily commute has now reached 54.6 minutes according to a recent poll conducted by the TUC, which is obviously a significant amount of time taken out of an employees work day. Moreover, the report also states that the average commute times have been on the rise since 2003. However, lost time is not the only pitfall relating to commuting, there are also cost factors to consider. In the UK, the average employee spends an approx. ">£160 per month on travel and then there are the physical and mental well being costs to be considered. The daily commute is known as the daily grind for a reason, it grinds people down. Early starts, late nights, lack of sleep and an unhealthy work life balance all increase the risk of living an “all work and no play” lifestyle which promotes employee stress and eventually burn out, which is clearly counter productive for both the employee and the company.
Then there are the external factors which affect employee productivity, which could be reduced or even eliminated by promoting mobile working. In 2014, tube strikes in London caused chaos as people tried to get to work, resulting in delays, cancellations and no shortage of disgruntled commuters. To top that off, massive disruption was again caused when the planned maintenance work at King’s Cross overran, causing chaos at Finsbury Park earlier this year. Then, again in 2014, in Germany we had the longest train strike in German history, which could have cost an estimated $126 million per day as things ground to a halt due to disruption to supply chains and this figure doesn’t even include the downturn in employee productivity due to delays and absenteeism.
So far, we have taken a look at the public transport factors, but what about environmental factors. Heavy snow, flooding and storms all have an impact on an employees ability to get to work. If for example, an employee is unable to do so for one of the above reasons, why risk losing their services for an indefinite period of time, why not provide them with the technology and ability to work from home? Then of course their is the shift in mentality of the modern workforce. A study undertaken by PwC (Pricewaterhouse Coopers) found that the latest generation of employees are motivated less by financial reward but more by workplace flexibility and a sense of appreciation. If your company cannot compete with other employers in fulfilling the needs of your employees, then you may well find yourself losing valuable members of your team to your competition.
Conversely, implementing flexible / mobile working policies facilitated by operating IP PBX and UC systems enable companies to reduce costs of having legacy phone systems, whilst benefiting from all the benefits that these systems deliver plus simultaneously promoting healthier and more cost effective work life balances for their employees. Studies have shown that by allowing employees to work from home, their productivity increases by an average of 13% whilst boosting job satisfaction and general happiness by 73%. An additional benefit associated with the characteristics and traits of the modern workforce can also be found in reducing staff turnover costs.
The facts are there and the figures are plain to see, the modern workforce has changed. Implementing mobile working policies seem like a win win scenario, so why are so many companies subjecting employees to such unnecessary stress whilst simultaneously exposing themselves to avoidable losses? The answer lies perhaps in a resistance to change, a fear of the unknown or even a “if it is broken, don’t fix it attitude” or just maybe purely a cost factor. Either way, if you and your company are resisting the rise of Mobile Working, it may time to reconsider. It’s not as costly as you might think and is definitely not as costly as losing competitiveness and productivity.