Three years ago, the International Data Corporation released a survey claiming that mobile workers would make up almost three-quarters of the entire US workforce by 2020. In 2018, we’re already well on the way to meeting that estimate as ubiquitous internet connectivity and cloud-hosted computing infrastructures become the norm in enterprise technology environments.
While some business leaders still prefer the traditional approach of having their employees working 9 till 5 in an office, younger generations are demanding greater flexibility regarding their work schedule. Enter the age of employee mobility, empowered by technology that helps businesses scale with the ever-changing demands of the modern world.
Workforce mobility is one of the defining trends of our times, and business leaders who ignore it do so at their own peril. If you don’t want to get left behind, you must prioritize mobility in your digital transformation strategy by choosing the best solutions for remote workers.
#1. Cloud-hosted software
You can’t expect to maintain a mobile workforce without the cloud. In-house IT resources are typically only accessible using devices connected directly to the company network, such as workstations and laptops linked to the corporate WiFi network. In this case, the only way for employees to take home work is to manually copy files between in-house and mobile devices.
This approach is hardly practical, and keeping any confidential data stored on mobile devices is a security disaster waiting to happen. Instead, use cloud-hosted software solutions, such as web-based versions of the Office 365 desktop programs (Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint), so your staff can access and even co-author the same documents in real-time using any internet-connected device.
#2. Mobile-optimized apps
The great thing about web-based applications is that you can use them anywhere, regardless of the internet connection, browser, or operating system you’re using. All you need is a device with an internet connection. However, using web apps in a mobile browser tends to be a clunky and poorly optimized experience.
Fortunately, many providers of cloud-hosted software, such as Microsoft and Google, have developed mobile apps for a smoother experience. For example, the mobile versions of Word and Excel are faster and more responsive with better-optimized controls than their web-based counterparts. At the same time, the infrastructure remains fully integrated for ease of use.
#3. VoIP telephony
The traditional landline has served businesses for well over a century, but it’s time for internet-based telephony to take over. One of the reasons for this is that landlines lack scalability, and without implementing an expensive in-house PBX, it’s simply impossible to scale your communications infrastructure to meet demands.
Although there are a few workarounds, there’s no better communications solution for companies with remote employees than VoIP. A hosted VoIP system — which works independently from a device or operating system — doesn’t require employees to sit in front of a desk, use their own computer at home, or to wait for a call on their smartphone.
#4. Virtual private networking
One of the biggest challenges mobile workforces face is keeping data safe when it’s stored and accessed using a wide range of different systems. Connecting to unsecured wireless networks is especially risky, since it leaves communications between the device and the local router open to man-in-the-middle attacks. Also, you have no control over third-party networks, such as those found at home or in public.
Virtual private networking (VPN) reroutes all internet traffic through a secure server which, in the case of business applications, will be a private server where all traffic is encrypted and anonymity is protected. Furthermore, administrators can protect their cloud-hosted resources by preventing access to anyone who isn’t connecting via the corporate VPN. This way, mobile employees can use any network safely.
#5. Mobile device management
Before mobile devices became a normal part of the everyday working routine, most organizations had a much smaller attack surface that rarely extended beyond the workplace. Today, mobile devices add a whole raft of security concerns that require an effective way to centrally manage your fleet of devices, including those owned by employees who have enrolled in your BYOD program.
Mobile device management provides a centralized solution for administrators to retain full visibility into and control over their mobile assets. This includes handling user access rights, providing audit trails, preventing data loss, and remotely wiping lost or stolen devices.