It’s 2017 – anyone can work from anywhere at any time on any device now, right?
We as a workforce are definitely the most “connected” bunch yet; we carry tiny computers in our pockets that connect to any number of free WiFi connections to give us access to more information than we could ever possibly consume in our lifetime.
But just because we are “connected” at some level does not mean that all of our employees are automatically set up to be effective mobile workers.
When it comes to those that work from home, from the road, from airports, from hotel rooms, from coffee shops, and from client sites, we as business owners need to make sure that we have a reasonable, practical strategy to help set them up for success.
There are two main factors to keep in mind when it comes to managing and supporting your remote workers:
Different devices have different capabilities.
When we talk about mobile devices, we could mean smartphones, tablets, laptops, or any combination therein. Each of these devices can be used on the go, but each has its limitations as far as what we can reasonably accomplish on them.
If you plan for your mobile workers to have only a smartphone with them, for example, then you can expect that they respond to internal emails… but not much else. Smartphones are not practical tools for content creation, nor will they be able to support many line-of-business applications. You won’t even be able to open all email attachments depending on their file format.
If, on the other end of the spectrum, you outfit your mobile workers with a laptop or Surface tablet, this person will be far more capable as far as collaborating on files, accessing your database, and so forth.
You’ll either need to align your expectations with these capabilities, or you’ll need to deliberately bypass device-dependency by investing in an overarching cloud solution like virtual desktops.
Here, all of your actual “computing” is done in a datacenter as opposed to on the device you’re using; you’ll tap into a full Windows desktop experience over the internet whether you’re using a desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, or otherwise. Every member of your team – whether they’re mobile or not – will have the same experience and same level of functionality across the board.
Your approach needs to align first and foremost with your company culture.
Take a law firm, for example. They are laser-focused on billability and being ultra-productive no matter what. A firm like this needs a system that can be easily (and quickly) supported, and that runs at full capacity no matter where their attorneys are. If one of their devices fails, they need to be able to grab another, log into their session, and pick up where they left off without missing a beat. This firm would do well with a unified, centralized virtual desktop platform.
This same strategy would not go over well with, say, a software development company whose entire livelihood is rooted in their team’s ability to think creatively about technology. These folks need to be able to modify their devices, spread their proverbial wings, and work without being confined by an environment as structured and controlled as virtual desktops.
All told, we need to be thoughtful and deliberate when it comes to our mobile workforce; advancements in technology bring us closer to a seamless work experience, but there is no one-size-fits all solution.
As originally published in the American City Business Journals