Although to some it may seem to be a frivolous investment of funds, supplying mobile devices to workers in your SMB can provide a huge boost in efficiency, productivity, collaboration and overall work satisfaction. Forrester Research’s 2013 Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends study says that the number of workers who use three or more mobile devices from different locations has risen from 23 percent in 2011 to 29 percent in 2012—and that trend is just getting started.
With most companies now dealing with a more global workplace, it’s also no surprise that 82 percent of respondents to a FierceGovernmentIT poll feel that their mobile devices are critical to their jobs. For these employees, going mobile means accessing more than just email anytime and from almost anywhere.
Where Productivity Can Increase
But what exactly makes a mobile device such a productivity enhancer? Both tablets and smartphones allow users to connect to documents, clients, the sales force, executives, assistants and more. Many applications allow a user to make a sale over a lunch meeting and sign the documents on the spot. Gone are the days when workers had to wait until they got back to the office to access data, send a quote, or attend a meeting. According to Segue Technologies’ Ben Shapiro, mobile meetings can be more effective and efficient:
Mobile devices also allow for a more robust meeting experience with video, screen sharing and real-time collaboration tools. How many meetings have concluded with someone announcing, ‘I’m going to make all these changes that we talked about, then I’ll send the draft around for everyone’s review?’… With real-time in-meeting collaboration, the results of your work group are in as soon as the meeting is over.
Being mobile also gives employees a more satisfying work experience. For many jobs, it means workers aren’t tied to their desk eight hours a day or more. Linda Horiuchi, senior manager for Cisco in Australia and New Zealand, believes that mobile devices give workers more control over their day:
Mobile devices, particularly smartphones, empower employees with increased control and choice over the way they work. Our world and workplace has become global, diverse and flexible meaning that the constraints of a 9 am to 5 pm Central Business District office are becoming increasingly redundant and even impractical.
Of course, some jobs may not be ideal for such a flexible work experience. Not to mention, some companies may not be willing to give employees such freedom from the corporate office. And many workers feel that having a mobile device actually ties them to their job 24/7, which may not be freedom at all. But being able to attend a child’s school function and still have time to make a video or voice call for a work meeting can make the ability for mobility seem worth it if the job warrants such pliability in scheduling.
All this mobility also brings about some security concerns. Having work devices that not only leave the workplace, but traverse through many different Wi-Fi spots and offsite locations each day can make any IT security expert leery. There will surely be concerns about lost devices and lost data, but with the proper planning and diligent mobile device management, rolling out company-sponsored mobile devices can be a positive experience for any SMB.
In future SMB Tech posts, I will be further exploring the topic of mobile devices in the workplace and will be identifying apps that add efficiency and increase productivity.