If the early 2020s have taught us anything, it’s that businesses of all types and sizes can benefit from incorporating a mobile workforce option of some kind into their workflow.
But what does that mean for businesses that don’t need their employees to leave the office during the workday? Can they just go back to the standard in-office work model and not worry about it?
In this article, we discuss how a mobile workforce is the new norm and how to manage that workforce for maximum productivity and success.
Table Of Contents
What Is A Mobile Workforce?
A mobile workforce is one in which employees perform part of their job in locations other than the business’s property.
Some industries — such as HVAC repair, electrical maintenance, sales, shipping, and delivery — have relied on a mobile workforce for years. Other industries have had to develop a mobile workforce in response to recent world events just to keep their doors open, so to speak.
For industries where a traditional mobile workforce is not the norm, the concept has taken on new meaning to include distributed teams, remote teams, virtual work, and hybrid work.
So, individuals who work outside the office — be it from their own homes, the corner coffee shop, or somewhere else entirely — fall into the broad category of a mobile workforce. But they are more often referred to as a virtual workforce, a distributed workforce, or a remote workforce.
The connectivity that the internet and cloud computing provide make it possible for employees to work from pretty much anywhere they choose.
And, while the more traditional mobile workforce still primarily relies on vehicles to perform their job, they are also benefiting from the new tools that power remote teams around the globe.
The rapid increase in employees working off-site has introduced a number of issues that many businesses didn’t have to worry about before, including:
- Task management
- Schedule coordination
- File access
Regardless of whether you manage a more traditional mobile workforce or the newer variety that includes a remote work component, solving these issues can mean the difference between success and failure on many different levels.
It all comes down to how you manage your team.
How To Manage A Mobile Workforce
1) Give Your Team The Right Tools
Sending your team out into the world without the right tools makes their job more difficult and throws up a major roadblock on your business’s road to success.
You wouldn’t think about sending a carpenter out to a jobsite without a saw, screwdriver, and hammer.
The same goes for the other tools your team needs to stay connected and complete their responsibilities while away from the home office, such as:
- Communication tools
- Collaboration software
- File access
- Remote help
- Word processor software
- Spreadsheet software
If you leave the acquisition and use of these tools up to each individual, you’ll get a hodge-podge of different solutions that don’t always work well together and can actually make things more difficult for the team and your business.
Provide everyone in your mobile workforce with a comprehensive set of tools that help them do their jobs better.
2) Maintain Open Communication
Maintaining open communication with a large team that’s constantly on the move — or even a small team that works remotely — can be difficult, time-consuming, and stressful.
Modern communication tools such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and the software that comes with them make the whole process easier.
With the right features in place, you can streamline the back and forth necessary to run your business and even give off-site employees access to all the information (e.g., documents, images, videos, etc.) they need to get the job done correctly and on time.
3) Provide Accurate Time Tracking
Along with communication, accurate time tracking is another essential element of managing a mobile workforce.
For businesses with remote teams, employees may not report to a central location before heading out to appointments and the like. And, for the more traditional mobile workforce, how can you make sure team members aren’t taking too long on a certain job?
Implementing time-tracking software into your team’s workflow (by way of business smartphones, tablets, and laptops) can have a dramatic effect on the way they work.
With the right software, you can:
- Turn any mobile device into a time clock
- Allow employees to clock in and clock out from anywhere
- Simplify the way your team records time-on-task
- Set up geofencing so that team members are in the right place when they start and end their work
- Prevent early clock-ins and forgotten clock-outs
- Reduce time theft
- Export timesheets for simplified payroll processing
Regardless of whether you manage a traditional mobile workforce or a distributed team that works from multiple locations, time-tracking software is the solution to managing labor costs for employees on the go.
4) Keep Your Mobile Workforce Focused
One of the cornerstones of managing a mobile workforce is keeping them focused on the right tasks.
Whether your team members work in-house, offsite, on the road, or online, delegating work and ensuring that it gets done in a timely and correct manner is crucial for your business’s success.
Incorporating task-management processes and technology into your standard operating procedure makes coordinating complicated tasks much simpler than it was just a few years ago.
Modern software, for example, gives you the power to distribute tasks across your team and prioritize what gets done when, whether employees are in the building, across town on a service call, or across the country working remotely.
Team members can even access the task list from any device — phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop — so they always know where they need to go and what they need to work on next.
5) Measure Performance With Deliverables
Measuring the performance of your mobile team can be extremely difficult because employees aren’t always present in the office for you to observe intangibles like work ethic, effort, and teamwork.
Instead of relying on the way you did it before when everyone worked together in the same office, evaluate the performance of your team with the deliverables they produce and the deadlines they reach.
This may be a bit of a switch from the old way of doing things, but it’s much more conducive to the way most mobile workforces operate.
Keep in mind that measuring performance with deliverables doesn’t mean you have to give up assessing those intangibles mentioned earlier. You can get a feel for your employees’ attitudes and behaviors through individual communication and team meetings (face-to-face or online).
6) Extend Business Standards To Your Mobile Workforce
Regardless of whether your team works together in an office, heads out on the road after reporting to your home base, is spread around the globe, or collaborates in some hybrid of the three, your business should extend its core standards to all employees.
If you haven’t already, take the time to put these standards down in writing (an employee handbook is the ideal place) and then distribute them to every team member on your payroll.
Your handbook could be digital or hard copy, but, either way, it should provide both local and remote members of your mobile workforce a framework on which to base their work and work habits.
That way, you know that everyone who works for your business — on the road, at a customer’s house, or in their living room — will handle things as if they were working in the main office.
The Best Tool For Your Mobile Workforce
Whether you’re keeping in contact with your mobile workforce, helping them stay focused and on-task, or giving them the tools to track their time and do their job right, the Inch app can help.
Inch helps you coordinate, organize, simplify, and streamline your mobile workforce activities with a suite of tools for:
Regardless of the type and size of business you run — or whether your employees work in the office, in their own homes, or on the road as part of a mobile workforce — Inch can help everyone stay organized and focused on the task at hand.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit TryInch.com today.