Managing a mobile workforce
Like many business organizations, government entities are facing greater financial strain as they decide how to allocate finite resources across a growing list of responsibilities. One way to save money is to establish a mobile workforce, or a virtual office. In fact, in an era defined by convenience and led by the laptop, smartphone and tablet, the only requirement of a virtual office is an Internet connection.The very essence of work is changing as well. Work is no longer a place people go, but rather something people do. In 2011, only 46 percent of workers felt productive within the confines of the proverbial “office.” The rest listed home, airplanes, hotels, cafes and public transportation as their preferred work spaces. Giving your employees the ability to choose where to work is not only personally fulfilling for them, it’s a potential cost-saving measure for you, too.Get in on the fun and the savings for your governmental organization. Here is some quick advice about making—and managing—a mobile workforce. It’s easy to implement and easy to remember: Encourage. Enable. Entrust.

Encourage
Your team is likely accustomed to an eight-hour work day at an office where colleagues are a mere desk away. As you research what it takes to work remotely, practice sharing your insights with one another using some new virtual tools.

  • Introduce a group chat platform like the kind you might use when the team begins to start working remotely. Campfire® is an online group chat platform that houses individual conversations and past transcripts on custom URL addresses.
  • Share information via online meeting services like join.me®. Have your team practice setting up and facilitating these new video chat meetings to talk about the benefits and advantages that come with working remotely. Join.me has a screen-sharing feature that is especially helpful for a mobile workforce.
  • Utilize a cloud-based service like Google® Docs to exchange, edit and save important documents. Dropbox® is a cloud-based storage application that allows files to be saved on multiple devices, like, for instance, a work desktop and a work laptop.

Reward team members who performed well using the new applications and platforms. Gifts show that you appreciate their effort and they help identify a go-to person if others have questions. Items like a coffee mug and pocket planner will now have a place at the office and at home.

Enable
Enable your team by providing the right tools. These days, all anyone really needs is a laptop, cell phone and an Internet connection to work without really being at work.

  • If you haven’t already, furnish a company cell phone for work purposes when your team members need to do business on the go. Issue a universal charger for times when the batteries gets low.
  • Likewise, provide a company laptop. A backpack or messenger bag are ideal complementary company gifts as well.
  • Tablets are used for business purposes more and more often. If your agency is willing and able to issue tablets, issue a tablet sleeve along with it.

Entrust
As the manager of a newly mobile workforce, the distance may take some getting used to on your end, too. Even though you’re not all in the same place at the same time, you are still the manager. And, make sure your team members still know and respect the rules. Rules like:

  • Accountability still matters.
  • Deadlines are not negotiable.
  • If you wouldn’t do it during a normal day at the office, don’t do it at home, either.

It’s also important to maintain a sense of company culture. To do that:

  • Help your team stay connected with professional social networks like Yammer®.
  • When you’re online and working, talk about non-business stuff, too, just like you would “at work.”
  • Stick to company principles and reference them often.
  • Talk about team goals for both the short- and long-term.
  • Distribute swag organization apparel as a reminder that they’re part of the organization even if they’re not on-site.

Finally, the mobile trend is growing. Fast.

Fifty-nine percent of people are “more productive” outside the office and 43 percent of companies report savings of at least $1,000 each month as a result of a mobile workforce, or one with the option of working remotely. So, next time you’re looking for a team growth opportunity, think about going mobile.

For a more thorough examination of managing the virtual office, check out our latest Blue Paper®.

Parr, Ben. “The Rise of the Mobile Workforce [INFOGRAPHIC].” The Rise of the Mobile Workforce [INFOGRAPHIC]. Mashable, 9 Aug. 2011. Web. 18 Oct. 2012.

Brashier, Greg. “Press Release.” Virtual PBX® – Press Release – March 8, 2011 – Survey Says: Owners of Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses See Cost Savings, Improved Productivity by Adopting Virtual Office Approach. Virtual PBX®, 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Oct. 2012.

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