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The mobile workforce goes beyond working from home

Last year, surveys and reports predicted that 2015 will be the year of enterprise mobility. For most companies thinking about a mobile workforce, mobility has been all about flex work and work-from-home arrangements. While some companies are open to these, others aren’t as quick to jump on board. For example, Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer comes to mind: she called work-from-home employees back into the office, drawing enormous criticism last year.

Mobility is more than working from home

The discussion regarding workplace mobility should include the ability of an organization to create a mobile-powered workforce that can leverage cloud, social, and data to be as productive as they need to be no matter where they are. Unfortunately, looking only at flex work and work-from-home means that these crucial points are left out of most mobility discussions.

The idea that I would like to drive home here is this: When we are just thinking of mobility as the privilege to work from home, we are putting plenty of other amazing ideas back into the box. Mobility should ideally mean life untethered from desks, and the freedom to move around without undermining productivity and performance. Limiting the talk to simply working from “home” means we are confining ourselves within four walls yet again, only this time they are the walls of our home and not office.

Working from ‘anywhere’ shows the real problems of enterprise mobility

Naturally, with the “work from home” mindset we happily avoid any issues that come with traveling, shifting base, and moving around every now and then. The challenges of working from anywhere are far greater than the ones we encounter when doing our work from home. Your home office probably has a steady Internet connection, and everything else you might need to remain productive. However, when working from anywhere, you don’t always have these privileges.  It’s important when we discuss workplace mobility, to take into account the need to stay connected in diverse environments – in the cafe, in a public transportation portal, or perhaps during a weekend getaway.

Consider the employee who is out for three to four days attending an industry event. Before mobility, that employee would often be disconnected and their availability limited. In the mobile economy, that employee could potentially utilize his or her own hot spot, mobile device, laptop and any free corner in the convention center to partake in calls or video conferences. Also affected by mobility issues is the employee who leaves files on a computer at work over the weekend. Today, he or she would be able to access them on a home computer, smartphone, or tablet and complete work at home if inclement weather, sickness, or other delays kept him/her from returning to work the following day. Whereas before he or she would have spent hours trying to “catch up” on missed time when finally returning to work.

When we think of working in an environment without the usual comforts of seamless Internet connectivity, tools and software, we naturally start thinking of how to address the problems and close the gaps. As marketers, we are constantly looking for new ways to make our jobs easier. The challenges of working from anywhere, as opposed to working from our homes, offers a better perspective on how an enterprise mobility solution should actually work, with no constraints on space or geographical barriers.

The mobile workforce is evolving rapidly, but let’s make sure we focus the discussion in the right place. Let’s concentrate on empowering mobile employees whether they are at lunch, around the corner from the office, at an event around the world or working from their basement.

For additional insights into workforce mobility, check-out Dell’s Global Evolving Workforce Study.

This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. To learn more about tech news and analysis visit TechPageOne. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

Daniel Newman

After 12 years of running technology companies including a CEO appointment at the age of 28, I traded the corner office for a chance to drive the discussion on how the digital economy is going to forever change how business is done. I'm an MBA, adjunct business professor and 5x author of best-selling business books including "The Millennial CEO" and "The New Rules of Customer Engagement." Pianist, soccer fan, husband and father, not in that order. Oh and for work...I'm the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group and President of V3 Broadsuite, a family of marketing and media agencies that help companies be found, seen and heard in a cluttered digital world. I also give keynote speeches around the world on the topics such as digital transformation, technology and marketing.