In the next few years, mobile workers — people who work remotely in an office or in the field — will grow to almost three quarters of the workforce, according to research firm International Data Corporation. Your IT team is probably already supporting mobile workers, but are you adapting to the opportunities and threats that are part of this trend?
Review the following IT and mobile tactics to be sure you are doing all you can to support productivity, security and teamwork for your workforce.
Create, Reinforce and Refresh Guidelines
Policies that clearly define what technology may be used for mobile work and how company security should be protected are critical. Be sure your company’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy specifies what devices may be used for work, what information can be accessed remotely, what sorts of Wi-Fi networks are off limits, good password habits and app download rules. Make it clear that adherence to these guidelines is required. These technology rules need to be communicated repeatedly, so consider scheduling reminders on a regular basis about the importance of compliance. Given the rate of technology change, you should update your BYOD policy at least once a year.
Enhance Your IT Support Capabilities
As any IT support leader knows, mobile technology problems can drain resources and hinder productivity if they are not quickly resolved. Remote and mobile workers often require more support than in-office workers, since equipment glitches, loss of devices and integration problems are more likely to occur outside a traditional office setting. Some teams commit to supporting a finite number of mobile devices and require people to work on those systems. While this may rankle users at first, ultimately your quality of support will improve, since your IT support team can be experts in those tools.
Also, communicate with your team to identify the hours with the greatest demand for tech help, keeping in mind the different time zones your users operate in. If you haven’t already, create troubleshooting guides or FAQs to encourage user self-service outside working hours.
Improve Access to Key Information
A mobile worker who cannot access an important document, pricing or order status is not productive. While it is the job of the IT support team to protect company information, mobile workers must also have ready access to the information they need to do their jobs. Cloud-based document sharing applications can solve this problem. Check with your teams to determine the type of information they need to share, how often they exchange information and other details that will impact any mobile technology choices you make.
Make Security Support a Focus
IT teams providing the best security support figure out how to get employees on board with security precautions. To get the greatest possible compliance from your team, be sure workers understand the perils associated with using mobile devices that can be lost or stolen, passwords that can be easily hacked and networks that lack security.
Repeat this message, along with the required safety protocols, many times per year via the channel that works best. This may even be text messages, if employees rely on mobile devices. Round out your compliance measures by using standard security practices such as limiting the type and amount of company information that can be accessed or stored on mobile devices and developing remote wipe and lock capabilities, encryption and other safeguards.
Create Support for Collaboration
Corporate training company VitalSmarts found that many people who work outside the office feel left out. Keeping mobile workers connected to office-bound teams is essential to fostering collaboration. While your team likely has conferencing technology, you may not be offering chat services and easy means of chatting and sharing screens. The tools that encourage informal conversations are good for swift and effective problem-solving. Video technology helps to build personal relationships because it adds another element to communication. While fostering interpersonal communication is not an IT task, mobile technology is at the heart of keeping people in touch.
As technology changes and workforce habits evolve, IT support teams will benefit from keeping in close touch with workers about their challenges, mobile technology needs, preferred modes of communication and other factors to shape any decisions.