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How IT can assure mobile employee productivity

Going mobile is an essential step for companies to take. Managers should encourage positive attitudes and set up a mobile employee for success.

Mobility is not just about an anytime, anywhere lifestyle or mobile devices and wireless networks. It's ultimately about how to assure and optimize staff productivity in a mobile-centric world.

Some departments such as sales, support and customer service have been inherently mobile. But the idea of all knowledge and information-centric staff becoming productive irrespective of location is still relatively new. At the same time, the IT strategies, systems, tools and operating procedures required for enterprise mobility are continuously evolving.

To make the mobile employee as productive as possible, IT departments need strong personnel management strategies. Improving mobile employee productivity is the reason IT exists in the first place, while end-user satisfaction and retention are IT functions, too.

Positivity brings productivity

It's vital to listen to users and their feedback regarding policies and operational procedures.

Experience shows that managers and supervisors who require constant attendance from workers often need an attitude adjustment before pursuing mobile operations. Management is necessary to obtain an optimal return on investment from employees, but it is management's job to assure the optimal productivity of mobile workers, not attendance.

The management by commitment strategy is usually best. Using this approach, mobile employees commit to meeting their management's objectives -- specific and quantified goals, timetables, milestones, budgets and so on -- irrespective of location. Trust is essential with this strategy of mutual respect. Regular reviews, check-ins and related activities as appropriate for a given task can close any loop holes. Mobility then can freely work its productivity magic.

Listen to mobile employees

Policies and procedures are important, as are the IT systems to support a mobile workforce. IT should rigidly enforce policies such as security and carefully re-evaluate them on a regular basis to keep up with changes in threats and available technologies. Programs like BYOD can be more flexible, as local requirements and objectives allow.

In every case, it's vital to listen to users and their feedback regarding policies and operational procedures. Mobile employees must feel that their time is optimized -- a key goal of management -- and never wasted. Education and training, regular communication and reinforcement can all go a long way toward keeping a mobile employee happy and productive. It really is too late when they're walking out the door to work for a competitor.

Systems serve workers, not the other way around

The same ideology works for refinements, enhancements and upgrades to IT tools and systems. Check support activity logs to make sure systems are not getting in the way of mobile employee productivity. Look for complaints about burdensome procedures and commonalities in requests for new features and capabilities. Make sure to foolproof simplicity in all aspects of mobile operations. In other words, IT systems must support the business mission, be easy to use and easy to manage, and be secure, all without burdening the mobile employee.

It absolutely is possible, if not essential, to get employees out there where the action is, making customers happy. The keys to success are trust, listening to users, completing regular reviews of operations, education and reinforcement, and encouraging the right attitude.

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This was last published in February 2017

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