Mobile devices are changing the modern workplace in ways that are significant and inevitable. Employees are moving beyond the desktop to communicate, share information, and work remotely or out in the field. In fact, by 2020, mobile workers are expected to account for 72.3 percent of the U.S. workforce — that’s 105.4 million people untethered from a traditional desk environment in the U.S. alone. Small business owners can use this enthusiasm to their advantage by embracing a mobile mindset and maintaining control of the conversation. If your small business doesn’t already support mobile work styles, it’s definitely time to catch up.
Mobility sharpens your business
It’s not hard to imagine a situation where the choice to support a mobile work environment is an advantage to a small business.
For example, a small engineering company is presenting a proposal for a bid on a project. The client is meeting in the office with the project manager and staff, but the chief engineer is on-site at another project on the other side of the state. To join the conversation, the engineer has a 2 in 1 in which the laptop allows her to follow along with the presentation remotely, online; and the touchscreen lets her present when it’s her turn.
In another scenario, imagine a construction worksite for a new industrial complex. The workers review work orders on a tablet in the field; since they’re using a cloud-based service to submit the orders, they have real-time information. A site manager updates the home office via email with supporting photographs of the project. A field worker uses instant messenger to chat with the office manager about a supply order.
In both scenarios, the business that supports mobile devices and digital platforms has a clear advantage. No postponing meetings due to employees being out of office, no waiting to put orders in until the manager returns to the office, just easy access to real-time information near and far.
How to go mobile: efficiency and security
Mobile technology can clearly give your small business an edge, but how exactly should you join the mobile revolution? Good news: The mobile workplace is a process, not a destination, and you can bring different parts of their business into the mobile world at different times depending on your needs. Here are some basics to get you started:
- Get devices that work on the go. When it’s time to get new computers and equipment, invest in tablets, 2 in 1s, or razor-thin laptops that let employees and managers cut the cord and get out into the field (where the customers are).
- Make a plan. Your employees have probably already embraced Bring Your Own Device, even if you haven’t. Take control of the conversation by establishing a policy that includes security regarding use of personal mobile devices for work.
- Any mobile strategy must include cloud services. For small business, communication, project management, and storage tools come in very handy. Popular established tools include Slack, Basecamp, and Dropbox. Again, well-vetted data security is an important element.