Advances in technology are revising notions of what the typical workplace looks like. Once a central location where management and staff gathered daily to plan and complete the tasks of the business, the office has become a much more fluid concept as companies permit employees to work remotely. Today’s workers can call their homes, vacation cottages, coffeehouses, libraries, parks and many other venues their mobile office. Emphasizing the truly mobile concept, even cars, trucks, planes, trains and buses can be moving locations from which an employees can check email, draft documents, collaborate on projects and enter data.
Using a variety of hardware including internet hot spots, tablets, laptops and smart phones and software or apps such as cloud based documents and video conferencing, any worker can make an argument that the cubicle and meeting room is irrelevant. The question a company needs to answer is whether any or all of its workforce can toil as effectively away from the office as in it. Review the pros and cons of permitting a mobile workforce to see if this technique is right for your business.
Pro: Allow Working from Home
Research shows the opportunity to work from their homes results in more productive and content employees. Avoiding lengthy and difficult commutes reduces stress and costs to the workers. With modern technology easily available, setting up workers to complete tasks, answer calls and otherwise contribute to the success of your company is as simple as an internet connection.
Pro: Reduce Central Office Costs
Since more employees are working from home businesses are able to save money when they rent or buy less square footage for central office facilities. Flexible work spaces permit workers a place if they are in the actual office on occasion.
Pro: Better Use of Time
Because workers can be connected to work so easily through smartphones, tablets and laptops, periods of time that used to be unproductive can now be used to complete a variety of projects and tasks. Whether using Wi-Fi connections or mobile hot spots, employees can be checking and sending emails, drafting and editing documents and performing other tasks wherever they may be.
Cons: Abuse of Time
For employees the same technology that makes working in a variety of places possible can also doom them to be tethered to their work-centered mobile devices all the time. Employers may feel free to contact their staff at time when the workers should be off the clock and the employees may feel constrained to give up free time and restorative rest because of the constant connectivity.
Cons: Security Breaches and Poor Working Conditions
If employees work in open, noisy areas such as restaurants or coffee shops they may become distracted and less productive. There is also the risk of unsecure internet connections that invite hackers and leave the company’s data vulnerable to attack.
Cons: Lack Of Community
When a business’s workforce is widely scattered, the sense of community and business culture can be greatly reduced or completely disappear. This can disrupt the company’s vision and interfere with the zealous pursuit of the company’s interests.
As with any configuration, the mobile workforce option can be modified to better meet the needs of either the company or the workers or both. Each business will need to strike a balance that keeps workers happy and productive yet does not interfere with the work of the company.