In a lot of industries, employees do not sit in an office from 9-5 under the watchful eye of their supervisor. Home healthcare, security, and cleaning companies are just a few of the industries where workforces are generally mobile. By definition, “A mobile workforce is a group of employees that isn’t bound by a central physical location. Instead, the employees are connected by various types of mobile technology: computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices.” Thanks to the continuous improvements in technology, these tools and resources are more accessible and available than ever before.
In fact, the size of the global mobile workforce is growing rapidly; it is set to increase from 1.45 billion in 2016, accounting for 38.8% of the global workforce, to 1.87 billion employees in 2022, accounting for 42.5% of the global workforce. As this trend continues to grow, it is vital for managers to understand how to effectively manage their mobile workforce.
When it comes to managing a mobile workforce, it is vital to remember what the objective is. No, the objective is not to spy and monitor employee activity. The main objective should be to make employees as productive as possible, regardless of where they are. Mobile employees should have access to the right tools and resources that enable them to get the job done. They should also be able to easily communicate with management even when they are not present. With all of this in mind, let’s dig deeper into how you can manage your mobile workforce.
Mobile Workforce Management
As you can imagine, managing a mobile workforce is not easy. There are lots of challenges that come with the territory, such as communication, trust, and productivity. However, there are tools out there to help managers navigate the complex issue, and keep operations running smoothly.
One of the first hurdles of managing a mobile workforce is monitoring and sustaining employee productivity. Without being present to communicate vital tasks and other assignments, managers cannot guarantee what tasks are completed or not. They also may not know who completed what work, and when. All of this is important information for managers to continuously improve operations and ensure all work is completed on time.
One simple way to overcome this hurdle is through shift tasks and field reporting. If you currently use some form of workforce management software, it might have this functionality built-in. If not, it can of course be managed with other tools. Basically, it allows managers to assign specific tasks to certain shifts, and send them directly to employees through a mobile app. Assuming all of your employees own a smartphone, they can track and manage all of their tasks at the touch of a button. Not only can employees see and manage these tasks, but management can see in real-time as they are updated. This helps with ensuring that everything gets done when it needs to and allowing management to stay in the loop.
Time and Attendance Tracking
Without being present, management may worry that staff is arriving late, or worse, not showing up at all. Without the right software and tools, this can be very difficult to manage. There are many ways that management can track time and attendance from anywhere.
First, let’s take a look at time clocks. While there are many advantages and uses of biometric time clocks for a traditional workforce, they are not ideal for a mobile workforce. They are typically in a fixed location, which means employees must be at a set location to check-in/out of a shift, even if their shift isn’t taking place at that location. Unless businesses can have multiple locations with multiple time clocks, it’s not feasible. Take a home healthcare provider for example. Naturally, there won’t be a time clock at every location. So, what’s the alternative?
Again, echoing back to workforce management software, you could have the technology at your fingertips to effectively and precisely track time and attendance. GPS geofencing is an extremely useful feature that creates a GPS perimeter that employees must be within to check-in/out of their shift. This tracks both time and attendance. It tracks time by recording the exact time that employees check-in/out and can feed that information directly into your payroll software. It also tracks attendance, due to the fact that employees have to be present at the work location before they can even check-in. This reduces time theft and buddy punching, both of which are huge issues to overcome while managing a mobile workforce.
Scheduling a Mobile Workforce
Typically, a business with a mobile workforce handles multiple sites or locations. This could be multiple client sites for a security company or multiple neighborhoods for a home healthcare provider. Either way, it can be very complex to create a schedule that ensures every site is sufficiently covered and the right employees are at the right place. If you create your schedules on spreadsheets, you know how confusing this can be.
So, it is vital to have the right software in place to ensure that you can manage and schedule these multiple locations with ease. The right employee scheduling software will handle multiple sites with ease, and allow you to view your schedule in a way that is clear and concise. Different sites/clients may have different requirements, and keeping track of those will be difficult without the right tools. Investing in employee scheduling software will save you time and money in the long run. Sites will be staffed efficiently, overtime can be reduced and most importantly, the time you spend on creating and managing schedules will be hugely reduced.
Finally, communicating effectively with a mobile workforce is no easy feat. Typically, managers use email, phone calls, or possibly even WhatsApp group chats to communicate with their employees in the field. Although they may suffice, they are not the most effective. For some employees, the idea of using their personal communication tools to deal with work communications is not ideal. It can also lead to missed communication, which of course you want to avoid as a manager. These methods are also far from secure, and with some communications handling sensitive information, you can’t take any chances.
The right workforce management tool should provide you with a secure way to communicate will allow you to communicate directly to employees through the mobile app. This mitigates all of the concerns above with traditional communication channels. It is work-specific, fully trackable, and most importantly, secure. This means employers can communicate with employees while they are in the field, and perform regular check-ins if necessary!
As you can see here, the common theme for managing a mobile workforce is having the right resources. Workforce management or employee scheduling software is a key factor in effective mobile workforce supervision. It can help reduce the worries and concerns of management, and more importantly, it improves important processes and operations. If you’re unsure whether you need one or not, the answer in short is that you do. Without these tools and features, managing a mobile workforce becomes costly, time-consuming, and overwhelming for most managers. As the global mobile workforce continues to grow, managers have to prepare themselves and arm themselves with the tools for the job. If you’d like to hear more about how Celayix can help you manage your mobile workforce, feel free to contact a Solutions Advisor here!