In the summer of 2019, the Harvard Business Review asked a seemingly controversial question: “Is it time to let employees work from anywhere?” The COVID pandemic seemed to answer that collective question with a resounding “yes.” But in reality, the American workforce was already largely mobile. At the start of 2020, over 78 million Americans were on the frontline of the mobile workforce.
For years, these frontline workers—in retail, in hospitality, food service, and on factory floors—have been solving the challenges of a decentralized workforce. They’ve been asking key questions such as:
- How do we stay efficient?
- How do we maintain communication?
- How do we keep our culture alive?
- How do we make sure that a mobile workforce feels connected?
The answer is mobile workforce management. What is mobile workforce management? It’s a systematic, digital tactic to replicate the benefits of in-person workflows and communication while preserving autonomy, distance, and safety. It allows businesses with a large percentage of frontline workers to maintain productivity and boost morale. It also allows companies to make frontline workers feel like they’re part of the conversation, and that they too have a seat at the table.
The Need for Mobile Workforce Management
Questions about mobile workforce management are not new. Even before the pandemic, it was estimated that at least 43% of American workers spent some or all of their time away from an office. In 2020, that equated to over 78 million workers. And that isn’t a temporary spike; by 2024, it’s estimated over 93 million workers in the US will be either partly or fully remote.
Remote workers aren’t just those who work at home or digital nomads who work from anywhere. The mobile workforce refers to retail associates, food service workers, and production crews on the factory floor. These frontline workers aren’t sitting behind a computer all day, but they still need to be connected.
These mobile teams are dispersed across the country and around the world. That raises a lot of challenges and questions, including:
- How does my team communicate effectively?
- How can I ensure productivity while maintaining trust?
- How do we safely and securely share information and data, some of which is proprietary or highly regulated?
- How do we keep people engaged and excited about work when there isn’t a central location?
Mobile workforce management gives you pragmatic and meaningful solutions to these common challenges.
How Does Mobile Workforce Management Software Work?
Mobile workforce management can help streamline nearly every touchpoint of the employee lifecycle from optimizing onboarding processes to automating key processes. The benefits of mobile workforce management software include:
Streamline Communication for Everyone
Have an announcement? In a traditional office setting, team leads and managers can send an email or post a memo on the break room bulletin board. But with a dispersed, mobile workforce, there is no central location—and often, workers don’t have access to a company-provided email. That means team leads need to build a mobile-friendly tech stack to streamline communication and facilitate team work.
A robust mobile workforce management platform lets you send out the same message across a wide variety of channels. Everything from the company chat network to digital signage in the breakroom can be accessed through one centralized hub for frontline workers. Streamlining internal communications from the conference room to the shop floor to the delivery truck is key to maintaining internal cohesion (especially in the post-pandemic recovery economy).
Keep Employees Engaged Wherever They Are
Connection with other people is among the most basic of all human needs. It gives us a sense of belonging, identity, and purpose, and it allows us to learn from each other and expand our abilities.
The same is true for your workforce. Your mobile workforce needs to feel connected to the whole team and the broader company. They need to feel energized and enthusiastic. And that doesn’t mean daily affirmations. Being connected means feeling like they are part of the mission. Without cohesion, work is just a series of tasks. With cohesion, it becomes meaningful.
Workforce management tools offer that connection. By making it easy to access company KPIs, tasks, internal announcements, training resources, and chats, workforce management software helps employees be more engaged. That has significant benefits for everyone; employee engagement reduces errors and increases production while creating an environment where workers are happier, healthier, and safer.
Frontline workers spend an average of three hours each week looking for information—digging through the new hire manual, flipping through employee handouts, sending chats asking if anyone has seen the new checkout process, etc.
Searching for information can make work frustrating and less engaging. But if all the information your employees need is at their fingertips, everything changes.
Workforce management software can help employees and business leaders keep all relevant information in one place.
This can include:
- Training resources
- Protocols and guidelines
- Important forms
- Contact information
- Security processes
It also allows workers to communicate faster and more reliably, making collaboration easier and minimizing the risk of misunderstandings and mistakes. A mobile workforce management platform removes barriers to productivity by ensuring workers have what they need when they need it.
How to Manage a Mobile Workforce With Beekeeper
The COVID pandemic accelerated the long-term trend toward mobile workforce management. A lot of companies are jumping into the water to capitalize on a growing need. But most companies focus only on at-home office workers, not the people on the frontlines of manufacturing, hospitality, and retail.
Beekeeper is one of the only mobile collaboration platforms on the market that was built from the ground up for frontline workers. This innovative software features:
- Mobile workforce management tools streamline communications to keep workers connected no matter where they are
- Mobile-first design to meet the needs of people who aren’t always at a desk or computer
- A simple, easy-to-use dashboard can be customized for your unique work requirements
- Scalable, automated technology designed for growth
Beekeeper’s mobile workforce management has helped businesses save tens of thousands of dollars because we know what matters: helpful information when and where you need it, communication that reaches everyone, and a sense of purpose from the core outward.
What matters is connection.