Is a Mobile Workforce an Asset or a Danger?

Is a Mobile Workforce an Asset or a Danger?

May 28

The times are changing. Traditional 40-hour workweeks are quickly becoming a thing of the past; a movement that has been fuelled by the work-from-home initiative. With the introduction of internet-capable cell phones and tablets, mobile workforces have become all of the rage. The real question for IT admins is whether these practices are proving to be a benefit or a hindrance.

Introducing the 60-Hour Workweek

Advocates of mobility will be the first to explain how smartphones have employees working both longer and happier. In fact, recent studies have shown that mobile workers have quietly added an additional 20 hours per week to their work schedules. Although there is no clear reason for this behavior, there exist a multitude of theories. Foremost, working from home can eliminate over an hour in commuting time. Flexible work schedules can also build employee loyalty and a sheer willingness to help the corporation. According to a study conducted by non-profit organization WorldatWork, businesses offering flexibility programs had a lower turnover rate and employers reported an increase in worker satisfaction, engagement, and motivation.

At first glance, these statistics seem extremely appealing. After all, who wouldn’t want their employees taking on extra initiatives? Unfortunately, more work hours don’t necessarily mean an increase in productivity. According to the Vancouver Sun, a 60 hour workweek reduces productivity by 25%, and this figure only worsens as the hours rise. A secondary problem with the smartphone-wielding generation is that distractions are abundant. Surprisingly, the biggest distraction isn’t related to games, music or apps – it’s email.

An Abundance of Security Concerns

Another consequence of employee flexibility is that it is tremendously difficult to protect corporate data. Since most mobile workers store sensitive company information on their personal smartphones and laptops, it is imperative that IT admins have protocols to manage these devices. For example, at-home workers should be forced to install antivirus software, abide by a list of corporate-approved apps, and employ password protection. The reason for all of these extra precautions is simple – smartphone theft, whether physical or through the use of malware, can put a company at risk. With mobile-payment technology quickly becoming popular due to advances in NFC technology, corporations might also have to worry about leaked credit card information.

Enterprise Technology to the Rescue

Luckily, smartphone manufacturers are beginning to cater to the mobile workforce, incorporating important security features on their latest products. For example, Blackberry’s latest product line is fitted with a unique feature called the BlackBerry Balance. The main purpose of this software is to effectively partition home and work data. Using this program, business admins have the ability to monitor and control the phone’s corporate segment, while leaving the ‘personal side’ completely untouched. These kind of advances in enterprise technology are what is driving the mobile movement, and rightfully so.

If enterprise technology continues to develop at this rapid pace, then the future of mobility looks good. Video conferencing technology, corporate-targeted apps, and improvements in mobile security are just the tip of the iceberg.

Moderation is Key

The important thing to take out of all of this is that there is no correct answer to the mobile workforce debate. Although advances in technology are making at-home communication easier and more secure, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a replacement for physical interaction. To be successful, an organization should try to bring out the best in each of their employees. Matt Kaplan, VP of products for software company LogMeIn, reiterated this point. “There’s a growing understanding that productivity is a very personal thing. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.”

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