Mobile workforce management is not just a passing trend.
The majority of the world’s working population is now out of the corporate office and on location. What are they doing? They’re selling, making, building, serving, fixing, cleaning, repairing, and so much more. They’re workers who perform their jobs in the field, away from the office. And their numbers are growing.
The population of mobile workers in the United States is forecast to increase from 78.5 million in 2020 to 93.5 million by 2024.
Whether it’s a customer a few miles down the road or in another time zone, the ability to serve a widespread client base allows a company to be more competitive and increase revenue streams. So companies have ramped up their operations and added to their frontline teams to be able to grow their company. That’s where mobile workforce management comes in.
But as modern companies expand their reach and their teams become more dispersed, communication becomes that much more critical — and more difficult.
Today, mobile communication tools create an agile workplace, able to support a wide network of employees. Enterprise-wide communication is no longer confined to one facility. Thanks to mobile workforce management software, information continuity can align an organization no matter where its teams are for superior productivity and greater efficiency.
What Is A Mobile Workforce?
Mobile workers can include anyone who works away from the office. But the mobile workforce definition we use is a team of non-desk workers that are not stationed at computers, desks, or tethered to one single location. In short, they are employees that are always on the move to accomplish their jobs. We also like to call them frontline workers.
Mobile workforces are the backbone of many industries, like healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and hospitality. In fact, 80% of the workers fall into this category. They might be in the field, at a cash register, helping patients, or on a retail floor.
What Is Mobile Workforce Management?
Mobile workforce management includes both the tools and methods a company uses to communicate and engage with its frontline teams. With staggered shifts, irregular schedules, and limited, if any, access to company computers or email, leaders often use mobile workforce management tools, like communications apps, to connect with these employees.
The best mobile workforce solutions are secure, cloud-based platforms that facilitate real-time connectivity with employees no matter where they are.
The most effective mobile workforce management tools:
- Connect an entire workforce regardless of location
- Have an analytics dashboard to track adoption and engagement
- Facilitates real-time communication and collaboration between every worker
- Have a survey feature to gain valuable insight from frontline teams
- Enable easy shift schedule management
Mobile Workforce Management for Higher Engagement and Productivity
If employees are not engaged, it’s often a red flag that they don’t understand the purpose of their work. For a mobile workforce, that feeling is amplified. Away from managers and colleagues, frontline workers often do not feel the morale and energy that an office environment can have.
A mobile workforce management app bridges this gap. Business leaders can use the platform to share corporate information and raise awareness of the company’s mission. This allows field workers to feel included. In turn, they’ll have the resources to accurately represent the vision and values a company is built on when they’re on the job with a client.
Holcim is a leading manufacturer of building materials, like cement, aggregates, and ready-mix concrete for infrastructure and construction projects. In their Italy and Switzerland branches, they have 1,500 mobile workers spread across 70 locations—including plants, quarries, and job sites.
When Holcim gets a new client or secures a new partner, they share the news over Beekeeper, the platform they’ve chosen to connect their teams. The ability to align positive messaging like this to every worker has been a boon to productivity by letting employees know their hard work is paying off.
Through leveraging the mobile workforce management platform Beekeeper, Holcim has since been able to save a whopping $50,000 in reduced printing costs.
Streamline Information for Greater Efficiency in the Field
In the past, mobile workers called in updates from the field or had to come into the office to report back and receive new tasks from their managers. Between drive time and information lost in the time-delayed transmission, it was an inefficient way to communicate.
More than 5 billion people around the world own a mobile device. More than half of those are smartphones.
With mobile workforce management solutions, teams save critical time in relaying information. They can file job reports in real-time so the main office gets immediate updates on projects. Architects and engineers can share documents and plans with on-site construction workers to keep projects on track.
Opening continuous, unobstructed two-way channels of information between field workers and the home office allows jobs to be completed smoother, and faster.
Know What Your Mobile Workforce Needs
Your mobile employees are out there representing your company and your brand. The truth is, they have a different, and deeper, insight into how your company operates. To provide supportive leadership, initiate communication to ask them if they have all the tools they need to perform their job safely, effectively, and efficiently. If not, ask them what they need. You can open this dialogue by sending a survey through your team app or through direct messaging.
Always follow through when your employees reply and get them the tools they need. The insights from your frontline employees will open your eyes to your field operations. It also increases morale and productivity which ultimately leads to a high-performing workforce.
Mobile Workforce Technology Makes Information Accessible from Anywhere
With so many employees coming and going, it can be difficult to distribute important information to every one of them. The traditional office bulletin board won’t work with a distributed workforce. Employee software allows managers to communicate information in real-time so all employees get the same message at once.
Managers can also use mobile-first software to share documents such as training information, safety guidelines, and job protocols. Aligning employees on standard operating procedures creates consistent customer service throughout an organization. And if a worker needs to reference a company policy or pull up a training manual, they can simply access it through the app’s document library on their workforce app.
Mobile Communication Tools Help Managers Excel as Leaders
The relationship between a manager and their team is undeniably important. For mobile workers, a manager is often the only person they are in touch with at the office. It’s the manager’s job to provide the tools and information employees need to do their jobs. This level of support allows managers to build trust with their teams.
Mobile workforce management software facilitates real-time communication and creates a strong connection between managers and employees, which often results in a more engaged workforce.
- Employees can give managers status updates directly from the field
- Managers can instantly answer questions via voice messaging, video calls, or chat
- Managers can give their employees regular feedback in real-time
- Managers can — and should — use the app for employee recognition to boost morale
Manage Logistics With Ease
Managing the scheduling, paperwork, and payroll for a large, dispersed workforce is time-consuming, not to mention tedious. Traditionally, each task had its own siloed data tank accessible only by the HR team. Mobile workforce management technology is changing that.
With 4,500 employees worldwide and customers in 20 countries, HyLife Foods is Canada’s largest pork producer. The company used to have a word-of-mouth culture, but managing the day-to-day logistics with this method was inefficient. With a large, diverse workforce that speaks multiple languages, HyLife needed a way to streamline workflows and communicate with everyone in real time across their fast-paced operation.
With Beekeeper, HyLife has been able to digitize manual processes for greater efficiency and immediate communication. For example, when employees couldn’t make it to work, they used to call the office (sometimes at 4:00 am) to report their absence. The admin team had to take down all of the information and keep track of it.
With Beekeeper, HyLife now uses the Forms feature so employees can hop on the app to report their absence. With one simple sheet, there is direct and clear communication with no language barriers thanks to inline translation. So far, thousands of employees have switched to using the Form instead of the phone. By digitizing that one workflow, communication is faster and more organized, and it frees up time for the admin team to focus on other tasks.
“Internal communications structure, plan, infrastructure is a top priority for us and Beekeeper has been critical in helping us fill that need.”-Tim Focht, Lead Marketing Coordinator, HyLife Foods
When managing a mobile workforce, Beekeeper’s platform:
- Creates a secure, single sign-on platform to manage all employee data
- Integrates with HR software that’s already in place, like ADP, Workday, and SAP Success Factors
- Has a Shift Schedules feature that allows companies to build their own shifts integration
- Integrates with Microsoft programs, like Azure AD, to synchronize secure user information
- Allows employees to access their information directly through the app
- Integrates with learning management systems like Coursepath for mobile-first employee training
Eliminate the Risk of Security Breaches When Managing a Mobile Workforce
As the workforce grows more dispersed, business leaders are worried about the risks of data security, especially with everyone blurring the lines of mobile device use between work and personal communication.
These fears are well-founded. Data breaches cost companies around the world an average of $4.35 million a year. It also jeopardizes their information as well as their customers, not to mention lost revenue once the breach becomes public.
Companies will sometimes make the mistake of allowing employees to use a consumer app for work communication. While these platforms have none of the features a company needs for effective internal communications, they’re also not designed to keep data secure.
Well-established mobile workforce solutions will prioritize data security. Platforms like Beekeeper use a virtual private cloud and encrypted data storage, not to mention hiring a Data Protection Officer and cybersecurity specialist.
This is a top priority right now. 81% of organizations are shifting their mobile device approach to ensure greater security with company information.
Key Considerations for Mobile Workforce Management
70% of deskless workers said better technology would help them perform better, especially if the tool facilitated better communication, onboarding, and training. Here are a few tips when looking for mobile workforce management software.
Choosing the Right Mobile Workforce Management System
Find a tool designed for mobile workplace communication. That means it’s a downloadable app employees can use on any device. They also offer a level of security that consumer apps don’t.
Providing Sufficient Training and Support
Whenever you introduce a new program, it’s important to provide workers with the training they need to learn how to use it. Hold group training sessions as part of the rollout. You can even make short how-to videos that you post on the app. With a workforce solution like Beekeeper, the right system will have a strong customer support team to help with onboarding issues.
Addressing Potential Resistance and Challenges
There will be an adjustment period for some after you roll out a mobile workforce management application. Just remember this: people are often afraid of the unknown. So make sure to demonstrate how a mobile workforce app will make things easier for employees. Help guide them through their first post. A little gamification never hurts either. Feather Falls Casino, Lodge & Brewing Co. has fun with Beekeeper with regular giveaways to engage workers on the Beekeeper frontline success system.
Here are some of the top questions leaders ask about mobile workforce management.
How can Mobile Workforce Management benefit my business?
Having a tool to connect directly with your field teams is critical. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- Get real-time feedback from the workers who are the eyes and ears of your company, who interact with your customers, and know the business from the ground up.
- With a mobile workforce management tool, you can empower your employees with the information to deliver solid customer service. This gives them more confidence in what they do and boosts engagement.
- Mobile workers often feel disconnected from the main company since they’re away from the office. It’s no surprise that they have lower engagement rates than office-based employees. A mobile workforce management app makes them a part of the communication, creates an inclusive culture and boosts their engagement.
What features should I look for in a Mobile Workforce Management application?
To stay connected to your mobile workforce, look for features that maximize productivity, like:
- Voice and text messaging
- Two-way communication capabilities
- Integrations with other systems and workforce tools
- Document library for workers to access what they need when they need it
- Shift schedules
- Video capabilities for training
A mobile workforce management system should be a one-stop destination for all of your mobile workers’ needs.
How can I ensure data security and privacy with Mobile Workforce Management App?
Make sure to find a mobile workforce management tool like Beekeeper that has ISO 27001:2013 certification to ensure your data is safe.
How can I address employee resistance to Mobile Workforce Management?
First, find a tool that has easy onboarding: a quick download and a simple sign on, and employees are off and running! When the team at Built Bar, a maker of protein bars, first rolled out Beekeeper, they started a grassroots campaign to get people on the app. They walked around the facility to show people how to download it and sign on. With the analytics dashboard, they could see which employees hadn’t accessed Beekeeper so they could follow up and answer any questions to help employees overcome any challenges to getting on the app. Their efforts paid off and resulted in a 100% activation rate.
What industries can benefit from Mobile Workforce Management?
Any industry, or company, with employees who are offsite, on the go, or don’t work at a desk should have a mobile workforce management solution. These industries include retail, construction, healthcare, hospitality, logistics, manufacturing, and transportation to name a few.
What are the trends and innovations in Mobile Workforce Management?
Work from home, remote, mobile, frontline. Work has changed over the past few years. It’s forced companies to design new strategies and adopt new tools to accommodate this new normal of distributed workforces. Digital transformation has also accelerated, creating new opportunities and trends that are shaping mobile workforce management.
Mobile-First Strategy To Reach Everyone
Over the past few years, work has changed. More often than not, workers are remote or on the move. That’s in addition to the 2.7 billion frontline workers around the world. Adopting a mobile-first strategy is the way forward because it connects everyone regardless of where they perform their job.
Mobile workforce apps are often robust platforms that can collect data that can help leaders track their engagement and productivity and know how to better support them. They can leverage people analytics to help with business decisions that engage their workforce, reduce turnover, and improve communication. They can see where there are skills gaps and offer training. They can gather employee feedback and use those results to better support their teams.
Automation and Efficiency
More than ever before, companies are looking for ways to streamline processes, reduce costs, and improve operational efficiency. A mobile tool accomplishes all of that. Through one centralized hub that can integrate with numerous workplace programs, you can optimize data flows and eliminate redundancy. Processes, like onboarding, that were once manual, can be digitized and automated, freeing workers up to devote time to value-add tasks, like attracting new talent in an era plagued by a labor shortage.
Mobile workforce management has quickly become a top business priority. The way people work has shifted dramatically, drawing attention to the fact that the old ways of communicating are obsolete. Design a mobile-first strategy and reach every single employee for an aligned, efficient organization and engaged workforce.