Mobile devices are changing the way people do business across all industries. Not only are smartphones and tablets stylish and fun to use, but they also are providing businesses of all sizes new options for enhancing productivity and efficiency in the workplace. According to a Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council survey, 75 percent of respondents who use mobile apps find that they save an average of 5.6 hours per week. A poll by AT&T revealed that nearly two-thirds of small business owners believe it would be very difficult or even impossible for their businesses to continue without wireless tools.
According to a Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council survey, 75 percent of respondents who use mobile apps find that they save an average of 5.6 hours per week.
Improve work-life balance and productivity for management and employees
As employers begin to appreciate the ways in which mobile technology can increase productivity, employees are welcoming the flexibility that comes with being able to work effectively and efficiently from any location.
Mobile access allows employees to leave the office for appointments, meetings and personal obligations without disconnecting from tasks. This creates opportunities to edit documents or catch up on email while waiting for a repairman or sitting in a doctor’s office. In the past, these interruptions were necessary but draining on productive time. Instead of having to return to the office after an appointment or catch up on work over the weekend, mobile access allows for a seamless workday no matter where employees are able to work.
In addition to creating happier employees, mobility increases efficiency. Allowing flexible work decreases unforeseen productivity losses due to employee absences. The benefits are even more pronounced when employees are allowed to work from home at least part of the week. In a survey by nonprofit IT association CompTia, two-thirds of respondents reported that their employees were more productive as a result of workshifting. By eliminating the commute and workplace distractions, allowing employees to work from home a few days each week can have a positive impact on overall work results.
Working remotely helps management reach a better work-life balance as well. When employees work staggered hours, their manager may find it difficult to work normal hours, as demands on their time come during all hours of the day. New technologies make it easier for a manager to go home at a normal hour and check in during the evening, eliminating the need to remain in the office in case problems arise. This allows the manager to develop a more consistent, desirable work schedule, while still giving employees the support they need. With smart implementation, remote work capability can benefit your entire organization.
Find the right tools for successful remote work
Fortunately, you probably already have many of the hardware devices that you need to work remotely. Your staff may have work laptops or use personal laptops instead of home computers. Many employees may already be finding ways to connect with work through their smartphones and tablets. With the devices in place, you only need the right applications to start working effectively outside of the office.
To determine what tools you need, take a step back and think about everything you use at the office. This will give you a well-rounded idea of the challenges and needs that you may encounter when working from home or on the go.
Here are some of the common issues that mobile workers encounter:
+ Limited communication with coworkers
+ Incomplete access to documents and other resources that are available in the office
+ Disruptions to workflow due to inability to access regularly used software and information
Each of these problems can be addressed with mobile apps and software.
Tools for remote communication
While you won’t be able to pop into a coworker’s office when working from home, there are a number of mobile tools that help teams work collaboratively from diverse locations. Webmail and email apps that can be accessed anywhere are incredibly beneficial when you need to send information back and forth. For more immediate, natural communication, instant messaging apps allow employees to hold conversations in real time. Desktop instant messaging services such as AIM or Google Hangout work well for employees using laptops; other services are available for phone and tablet use.
Working outside of the office doesn’t mean forgoing meetings. Several providers offer quick, easy online meeting solutions. Online meetings allow participants to share their computer screens with others, and some meeting solutions even provide videoconferencing for a more natural connection. Options such as GoToMeeting support mobile phones and tablets so participants can connect from any device they choose.
Tools for access to documents and files
Businesses need a high level of control and security when it comes to data, and a number of cloud service providers cater specifically to these needs. Business-friendly Citrix ShareFile offers a file-transfer solution that supports all mobile platforms. ShareFile has more advanced security features than a consumer-oriented service, including flexible user permissions. Employees may determine exactly what actions others can take with regard to files and project folders (delete, download, share, etc.).
When it comes to creating a seamless mobile workflow, a good first step is to check software that you currently use for mobile versions or apps.
Tools for a convenient workflow
When it comes to creating a seamless mobile workflow, a good first step is to check software that you currently use for mobile versions or apps. For example, Sales Cloud by Salesforce helps professionals instantly log contact with clients while on the road, eliminating the need to take notes by hand and transfer them to Salesforce once back at the office. This provides a meaningful way for sales teams to leverage mobile CRM technology without requiring them to learn an entirely new system.
There will always be cases when the feature or file that an employee needs is only available on her work computer, and app developers have created solutions for even these circumstances. Tools such as GoToMyPC grant remote access to a computer directly from the app. Once installed on a work or home computer, an employee can open the desktop from any other computer or mobile device.
Update your workflow for better results
Flexible work for employees and management creates a more productive, less stressful environment for everyone involved. Teams can expand their remote work capabilities and solve many of the problems that can arise with remote work by utilizing the exceptional range of tools available.
The diversity of mobile tools available on the market enables managers to find perfect solutions for their business needs. Balance employees’ preferences with business-friendly options that provide the security and functionality you can count on when working in the office. IT can be an ally in determining if the tools you consider are appropriate for your business. With a little research, solutions that will improve your team’s workflow are only a click away.