For business owners looking to scale and do more for less, mobile working is rarely the first thing that springs to mind. Yet Forbes reported how people that work from home are more productive, take fewer sick days and stay longer. Could mobile working be part of a wider digital strategy to propel business growth?
Rogan Hounsell-Roberts was a founder of a successful scale-up; has helped organisations across many sectors achieve success; a founder of KR5 Consulting; and passionate to help ambitious business leaders succeed.
Telework, remote or mobile working is when staff use tech such as laptops and smart phones to work remotely instead of commuting to an office. In part one of this three-part series I looked at cost savings through re-thinking workplaces and reduced recruitment. This blog takes a deeper look at mobile working to challenge the status quo and improve productivity. The third and final part looks at staff engagement and retention.
Challenging the status quo
What does it take for your staff to have everything they need to work productively? Mobile working is a great viewpoint, to think that through. Do workers have clear objectives and knowledge to complete tasks to a high standard? What resources do they need? How about support? Do they have timely access to information? What about systems? When the task is complete, how’s that reported or passed on? What’s the best way to support staff operationally? How do they learn new skills?
What does it look like?
From my own experience as a consultant, my office is a laptop and phone. I’ve worked in hotel rooms, airport lounges, coffee bars, client site, home and from an office. I asked myself, what made it work for me?
Firstly, let me say that mobile working was a good fit for the role. I appreciate there are some roles that would be better suited to an office. For me, most tasks involved working on my own for large chunks of time without supervision or support. Secondly, I had the right tools to access information and complete work efficiently. Thirdly good communication to access support when needed. So, let’s look at that in more detail.
Tools & Information
Have you ever had to assemble flat packed furniture or similar? The first step is always to make sure you’ve got all the right parts and tools before you begin. I’m not saying that it’s always straightforward, but you’re more likely to be successful if you have. You don’t want to break off halfway through to go shopping!
In my role, working with clients and software, the two systems I used the most on the road were the customer relationship management (CRM) system and the software tracking system. I needed accurate status information, and I needed to record and update status information on the road. The second piece was managing my deliverables, which I created on my laptop and synced in the cloud.
Both the CRM and software tracking systems were essential to the operation. These helped us share information across all the remote workers, and you knew you always had an accurate picture. That wasn’t by chance, we’d worked out the information needed and how we were going to use the tool. These tools also had feeds and notifications, so we could keep up to date with the latest changes.
Remote workers can feel isolated, especially if working from home. It was important to us to be able to have calls to discuss work, and vent and share frustrations from time to time. We mainly used screen sharing and voice calls (no one wants to see a colleague in their dressing gown). This enabled us to share our screens and discuss ideas and work through problems. For more formal meetings, we did use video, helping us all feel part of something bigger.
We used direct messaging for quick messages, often to check a time to schedule a meeting, or check status. These days, we can use internal social media type systems to share ideas and discuss topics. This has the advantage of creating threads of discussion all in one place for future use, rather than lost in an email heap. The other advantage is that instead of internal email spam, you can decide which discussions you want to follow or get involved with.
When challenged to think about remote working, it gives us an opportunity to review our systems. Technology is available to make things easier, however a holistic approach is best. Getting the most out of technology requires thinking about the best outcomes, and how it will work in practice. Others have learnt lessons that will make the use of tech more effective.
KR5 Consulting help business leaders achieve their vision. We want to understand what makes you and your business tick, so we can help you create solutions that really work for you. We work alongside you and your team, run workshops, analyse, design, plan, manage and deliver business solutions to power you onto your destination. Our purpose is to help you accelerate, increase profits, scale-up, acquire customers and beat the competition.
If you’d like to explore the ideas in this article further or need help and advice, please contact Rogan at email@example.com – to arrange an informal chat.
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