Quick steps to unlock productivity through mobility

Mark Samuels

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Is your workforce truly mobile? Or are your processes hampering the potential of your team?

Has the enthusiasm for business mobility dampened in the UK? Working from home, or on the move, can be a productive use of time. But research has shown that unless your business has implemented the correct processes and procedures, out of the office working can prove to be a waste of time.

The theory sounds great – rather than having to stay rooted to desks, employees can now use mobile technology to stay productive from any location. In practice, however, many employees and employers are struggling to see the benefits.

Workers are certainly keen to embrace flexibility, with market researcher Censuswide suggesting almost two thirds (61 per cent) sometimes work from home. Yet a break from the office is not necessarily commensurate with an efficiency boost, with three quarters of British employees believing they are less productive away from their desks.

So why is mobile working failing to deliver big productivity benefits? It is a perplexing question for the senior executives who are charged with managing the move to mobile working, many of whom are now under increasing pressure to find an answer.

Research from the Future of Work Institute suggests 33 per cent of employees believe their company has not successfully implemented flexible working arrangements, while the Cranfield School of Management found flexible workers were less likely to be chosen for crucial or urgent work.

Such downsides mean the pressure to deliver productivity through mobility can be seen as an intractable challenge. Executives must not be discouraged. The crucial role of mobility means business leaders must create clear definitions about how and why people can work flexibly.

Executives should direct strategic attention towards three key areas: people, policy and processes. Mobile workers, particularly those working from home, can quickly feel isolated, especially when a culture of presenteeism – the act of attending work while sick – pervades the business.

Ensure out-of-office workers feel part of the organisational culture by using collaborative technologies, such as video, chat and messaging. Then back up the approach through senior sponsorship, creating a clear executive statement about how people can work flexibly and why it helps the business.

Some organisations will choose to eschew allowing workers to bring their own devices to work in favour of a more controlled approach to mobility. Others will let workers experiment by sourcing their own applications. The aim should be to deliver as much choice to workers as possible but with little or preferably no risk to the business.

Governance and data integrity should always be central to your organisational approach. And a successful mobile strategy will incorporate key security features, such as mobile data management and remote wiping.

Create the right supporting mechanisms for mobility and your disparate workers will feel part of the business. The office might still be the centre of business operations, but it no longer has to be the only productive location.

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