The nature of work is evolving. How employees are enabled to do that work — that’s where organizations may be falling short.
Most people are familiar with the concept of mobility by now. It’s what keeps employees in the field connected, helps dispatch resources faster, and facilitates the management of tasks from remote locations in real-time. From salespeople to security guards, field techs to forklift operators — mobile technology is proving capable of improving the workflows of any worker, anywhere they might find themselves.
Yet, as technology continues to push the boundaries beyond what was possible even a few years ago, it begs the question: are the underpinnings of business capable of supporting the unique complexities of mobility? Or are the management tools and policies in use simply modifications of the same tools and policies that have always worked before? Without consideration for the change in how and where devices are being used.
It helps to think about this question from the beginning. Workforce mobility has its roots in the idea of taking traditional desktop computing and making it “mobile” through the introduction of laptops. Once employees were able to take their laptops with them and work off-premises, there was a need for management tools to help control access to the company network and data to protect the security of a company’s intellectual property (IP).
Fast forward to the introduction of smartphones to the workplace, and usage started blurring between business and personal use. The nature of how work was getting done started to evolve. Both employees and their employers embraced the promise of enhanced mobility through devices that were always on and always connected.
Unfortunately, how those new mobile capabilities were being managed had not gone through the same evolution. Along the way, the same mobile device management solutions supported by a company’s IT function were merely optimized to solve for the security of the network and data, but not the productivity, safety and security of the worker using mobile devices.
But it’s no longer just an issue of controlling access to the company’s network from a static location. Work is more mobile than ever before, so the context of what is happening around the employee while their mobile device is being used now creates new safety and productivity challenges for the business.
And, since most businesses can’t afford to bear needless risk, the result is often implementing restrictive measures aimed at giving the company more control over device usage in order to drive down perceived risk. Mobile device functionality is often limited or locked down, and usage policies are crafted for the lowest common denominator as the only way to safeguard both the network and the employee.
It’s a unique problem of the modern workforce – the decisions and tools companies are putting in place to give them more control over a mobile workplace are often the same things undermining all the benefits that mobility offers.
Prohibitive usage policies and forced limitations are out of step with a modern workforce that has come to view personal technology as an essential right and a key to productivity. Employees need and expect to have access to the same tools and functionality in their workplace as they wield in their personal lives. Companies that can find the right balance between control and enablement realize that the benefits of today’s advanced mobile capabilities far exceed the challenges of incorporating their use.
To succeed and remain competitive, today’s organizations must find ways to empower the growing portion of the workforce — that is the mobile workforce — to safely perform at maximum productivity and efficiency. Rather than withhold access, companies must recognize that tablets and mobile phones are productivity platforms that support efficient operations and smarter work throughout the organization.
To learn more about enabling mobility for the modern workforce, check out our eBook, Unlocking the Next Generation of Workplace Mobility.