The nature of the workforce is rapidly changing and this new wave of employees is not only getting accustomed to a mobile and agile workforce but are starting to actually expect it. And with the advent of the gig economy, being able to organize your mobile and increasingly global workforce is a priority.
Business leaders also have to change their leadership style in order to still be able to drive a sense of connection and community within their organization. There are also significant security issues that come from allowing your workforce to have uninterrupted data access from anywhere and from any device. Let’s take a look at the challenges workforce mobility presents and a few tips on how to implement an effective enterprise mobility strategy.
One of the biggest challenges of the mobile workforce is being able to maintain cohesive teamwork and a real connection between team members. More freedom and autonomy has a tendency to drive team members apart unless you take concrete steps to still maintain a sense of community. Co-location facilitates collaborative teamwork and innovation, so companies have to find a way to balance the needs of their employees with these core fundamentals.
A mobile workforce is inevitable and will become essential if you want to attract and keep employees. Not embracing enterprise mobility will also inhibit you from tapping into a global talent pool. Globalization equals dispersion and addressing these challenges should be central for any business leader today.
Let’s take innovation, for instance. We’ve always been told that teams need to work in close collaboration and take advantage of organic opportunistic interactions to drive creation. We’ve also been told that silos can stifle innovation and should be avoided at all costs. But is there are a way to still drive innovation with an increasingly decentralized lifeforce?
The answer is yes. By implementing a set of strategies and using the proper set of tools, it’s possible to create a virtual collaborative work environment that will work just as well as the traditional whiteboard. With the advent of new apps and agile frameworks, mobile collaboration is becoming easier by the minute. Let’s take a look at what it will take for you to organize your mobile workforce better while driving innovation, cohesiveness, and active collaboration.
Change your Communication Style
In order for a mobile work environment to work, you have to change your approach to communication. You have to let go of the “from the mountaintop” communication style and make sure that top to bottom communication becomes an integral part of any action and is always considered. You should start adopting a “snacking” communication style where you deliver steady, easy to digest bite-sized information with a steady cadence. This style works much better to keep your employees engaged and updated.
You’ll also have to start adopting new communication tools as well. Business leaders need to not only get accustomed to advanced communication tools like video, social media, and blogging, but they also have to enable their teams to use these same tools so that they can work and collaborate seamlessly wherever they are.
However, you have to still remember that personal interactions aren’t completely obsolete and are still very much needed. And even with globalization and dispersion, they can still be made possible.
For instance, MobileIron employs over 900 people from all over the world and operates from more than 100 locations. Their employees interact using Slack and other tools, which allows them to get a sense of proximity. But their Indian engineering staff still meet once a year in the Bay Area to interact and build connections.
They also make sure that their marketing teams on the field meet at least once per quarter for interactive strategy and planning sessions.
It is up to you as a leader to identify which teams would benefit from regular meetings in order to work better when they’re separate.
Listen to your Staff
One big mistake is assuming that the tools you like will also automatically resonate with your staff. While you might think that the tool you’re using is state of the art, it might be seen as completely outdated by your younger or more tech-savvy workforce, which could cause frustration among them. Thankfully, all of this can be avoided if you simply listen to them. Find out what tools they are using to fill in communication gaps and implement them. Do not try to shove old school solutions down their throat that might have been pushed on you by your current software vendor.
Streamline your Processes
With increasing dispersion, having clear and concise work processes becomes more important than ever. Don’t assume that old models will easily migrate to completely new work styles. They won’t. New working styles means new processes and you should start looking at a few Lean approaches that will provide you with a centralized management system with built-in collaboration and communication tools.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Don’t be hesitant to ask your peers about the challenges they face and how they changed their mindset and approach. Ask about the tools they’ve been using and how they’ve been working for them.
You should also consider working with an enterprise workforce mobility management team that will help you analyze pain points in your organization, conduct risk assessments, functional requirements, and come up with an enterprise mobility management strategy that will empower your employees, while allowing you to keep control over information, content, security and device management; both at the personal and corporate level.
And don’t forget to always keep your employees in the loop as well. They are sometimes better positioned to give you advice on which new tools could be beneficial for your organization or discuss issues they might be facing. You’ll then be able to use their feedback to implement new solutions and continually improve processes.
As a business leader, you cannot afford to be left behind and retreat to outdated legacy approaches. Leaders who are successful in the future are those who will see this as an opportunity, not a problem. Embracing the mobile workforce is no longer a choice, but a necessity.