Researchers predict 1.75 billion people – more than 40 percent of the global workforce – will be mobile by the end of this decade. These swelling ranks of remote workers push companies to accommodate not only a wider range of working hours, but a more diverse set of workplaces – and an array of mobile devices.
“Data indicates that the remote-work trend in the U.S. labor force is inexorable, aided by ever-better tools for getting work done anywhere,” writes Wall Street Journal columnist Christopher Mims in a recent column. Surveys done by Gallup reveal that last year, Mims elaborates, the proportion of Americans who did some or all their work from home was 43 percent, up from 39 in 2012. Over the same period, the proportion who only work remotely went to 20 percent from 15 percent, he shares.
For your organization, this evolution in work styles may already have brought a shift in technology strategy, as your company embraces mobility by making communication and collaboration tools accessible from any location – around the corner or across the country. This trend effects more than your communications infrastructure requirements. The accelerating flow of people from corporate facilities to home workspaces and field offices means the onus of efficient and effective business collaboration is shifting the same direction.
It also means today’s remote workers carry greater responsibility for productivity. But researchers have found mobile employees willingly embrace this burgeoning burden of the digital world. In fact, a poll by the job site Workopolis cited in Inc. magazine that found nine of 10 people believe working remotely makes them more productive.
How can you support this trend toward increasing productivity in the field? The tech optimization site ITBusinessEdge recently shared five best practices the we consider productivity enablers for remote workers. Here’s our digest:
- Evaluate Mobile Technology Infrastructure Often – Greater mobility is spreading fast in our society, providing the driver for the surge in remote workers. So, assess the strength and capabilities of your company's technology infrastructure on a regular basis. Conduct quality testing for components such as internet bandwidth and storage capacity to ensure the technology is fast and secure enough to evolve with the growth of remote day-to-day operations.
- Establish a Remote Work Policy – Cover the people issues before tackling the hardware. How many staffers should work remotely, and how? For example, will all employees be eligible to work remotely? Will it be a performance-based privilege?
- Establish a Mobile Device Policy – Will your firm provide all the necessary devices for remote work? Will your employees? Or will your situation be a mixture of both (which often is the case)?
- Account for Mobility in Business Continuity Planning – Check that your plan includes laptops, tablets and smartphones. You will need these to be functional to commence your off-site recovery, communicate with customers and stay in touch with employees in the event of business disruptions.
- Keep in Touch – Yes, remote workers often are trusted to work without much direct supervision. But corporate leadership should be wary of slipping into an out-of-sight-out-of-mind mindset. Poor communication with employees in any type of working environment – face-to-face included – typically leads to productivity losses rather than gains.