If you’re running a company that provides a service with on-the-go, off-site employees working in the field, then mobile workforce management is an asset for your team. The deskless workforce still needs to be looped in and empowered to get their job done on the ground, feel motivated, and supported.
In this blog, we look at what mobile workforce management is, reflect on its benefits, its challenges and how to achieve it.
What is Mobile Workforce Management?
Before defining mobile workforce management (MWM), let’s break down the term into its parts. A mobile workforce is one that is on the move, providing services in the field or working on-site with customers. Unlike employees in an office or sitting at a desk in their home office, they won’t be spending much or any time behind a computer.
That’s where mobile workforce management comes in. Mobile workforce management includes the tools, software, and processes that your mobile workforce leverages to get their job done properly. MWM helps to streamline workflows, as well as schedule, track, and analyse employee performance. For example, think of field service technicians who work for internet service providers. MWM software helps employees and managers know where team members need to be, what needs to get done, and how employees are fulfilling their duties.
Every workforce varies based on the services they provide, their location, and customer demands, but when it comes down to it, mobile workforce management exists to boost efficiency and overall employee satisfaction.
Whilst software can help manage mobile workforce performance, perhaps the greatest challenge however to mobile workforce management is understanding and supporting employees. Even with the greatest management tools, if employees feel overwhelmed, anxious, unsupported, employees will not be happy in their work. The problem is when employees are mobile it can be very hard to understand their challenges and if they need more support.
Being away from desk, a mobile workforce can feel disconnected from the company or feel unheard. This is why mental wellbeing and mental fitness can play crucial role in building employee resilience to adversity and helping them to overcome challenges.
Employee wellbeing tools can be the perfect complement to MWM software as it provides your team with the support they need to be agile, overcome challenges, avoid burnout, reduce stress, and ultimately, to feel happy and successful in their place of work.
What are the Benefits of Mobile Workforce Management?
The benefits of mobile workforce management are plenty, and now that most software solutions are designed to work as well on mobile devices as they do on stationary devices, the industry of MWM is prospering.
With an initial investment, mobile workforce management promises to return many upsides to your mobile team (and, of course, customers at the end of the workflow). Here’s what mobile workforce management can bring to the table:
1. Increased Visibility
When your team is out of the office and in the field, you want to know the status of their tasks. While it’s possible to check in via call or text, that’s a misuse of time for everyone.
Mobile workforce management tracks the status and completion of tasks so that everyone, including management, is looped in on the process. This provides location tracking and integration with other tools so you can rely on updates in real-time.
It also helps scheduling because you can understand how long each employee is working on a task and where they physically are to improve logistics.
At the same time, you’ll probably be interested to know the mood of your mobile workforce, since you aren’t able to walk up to them and ask or see them working in action.
Employee wellbeing software brings this form of visibility to the table so that managers and HR teams can have the insights they need to provide support in departments that need it most. This way, you can ensure that your team members feel supported and motivated, no matter where they may physically be.
2. Enhanced Productivity
Along with increased visibility, mobile workforce management results in greater productivity on behalf of workers. With streamlined workflows, dispatching, and communication handled through the software, employees get to focus their energy and efforts on meeting customers’ needs meaning greater efficiency, increased outputs and improved bottom line outcomes.
3. Better Customer Experience
Mobile workforces are face-to-face with customers and on-the-ground to deliver the company’s value directly to end users. It’s of utmost importance that they provide customer interactions that are up to the company’s standards.
If they are instead looking down at emails or calling around to find what they need, they’ll be distracted from helping the customer. Mobile workforce management solutions empower your mobile workforce to literally focus on the task at hand and rest assured that they’ll have whatever they need ready to go.
This includes having access to client information, optimised routing, and communication tools in the palms of their hands.
How to Achieve Successful Mobile Workforce Management?
Achieving proper mobile workforce management involves the right tools and a proper perspective. It’s not about having total control, but rather, it’s about providing your team with what they need to succeed.
The MWM is about tasks, but to really manage a mobile workforce successfully you also need to support employees and take care of their mental fitness. Strengthen their ability to overcome challenges, deal with change, build resilience. Managers can't see much of this if staff are remote. With a wellbeing tool you can see real-time analytics etc
While MWM is centered on the completion of tasks and informing your team with what they need to get the job done, you’ll also need to focus on your team’s mental fitness, as that’s a crucial ingredient to any employee’s happiness and success.
When most of your team is working remotely and on the road, managers are unable to see how their employees are overcoming challenges and dealing with change. So, by implementing a wellbeing tool, you can gain access to real-time analytics and information about your team member’s mental fitness. This way, you can provide resources for employee empowerment and care.
Let’s jump back to what features are helpful in deploying robust mobile workforce management tools:
1. Empower your Workforce
At the top of the lists sits the ability to empower your workforce. Taking a worker-first approach means that you equip your team with the resources and tools they need to perform their best. For example, this could include making sure that they have the vital customer information before showing up to a customer’s home to resolve an issue.
2. Managing Work
Along with giving employees what they need at the site of the job, they’ll also want to know what’s upcoming. Mobile workforce management offers a look into outstanding work, along with sharing necessary information to help employees perform better.
In practice, this could mean that employees gain access to prior customer history, to see what issue they may have faced the first time around, how it was resolved, and if the current issue is related. Having this type of information can increase an employee’s confidence to provide the adequate solution in a timely manner.
Just like you deploy MWM to manage and equip your employees to do any job well, you can use a mental fitness platform to aid in preventing burnout, understanding the cause of stress or anxiety, and supporting their overall mental wellbeing. Investing in the right wellbeing platform is also a clear signal to your employees that you are investing in them, and you are committed to supporting them in times of change and adversity.
3. Information Visibility
Management teams and employees deserve to have information at their fingertips in real-time. With mobile workforce management, everything that’s needed to complete the job is available to them.
These tools provide a way for team members to upload documentation and/or photos, supporting information, and the like, so that they can make the right decisions on the spot to maximise customer satisfaction and care.
4. Greater Insights
When everything is being tracked, it can be measured and monitored for maximised efficiency. Mobile workforce management software collects data in every interaction and helps to gauge metrics that can be analysed. This way, organisations have insights into what’s happening in the field and can improve upon processes, if need be.
What is Mobile Workforce Management Software?
Luckily, for organisations of any size, software solutions exist to help with this kind of thing. Mobile workforce management software brings all the aspects of your mobile workforce together, from scheduling to logistics, communication to resources, and data and analytics.
Software helps to improve visibility with employees in the field and can even include automation solutions to take the heavy lifting off of management’s plate.
Most workforce management software includes features like:
- Automating schedules
- Tracking employees in real-time and en-route
- Logging information like start time, end time, and travel time of jobs
- Tracking average length of service events
- Integrating with a CRM to document records and keep running histories
A team that is properly supported, especially when the bulk of people are in different locations, will feel more engaged and connected, despite physical distance. To accomplish this, consider a wellbeing platform to work alongside mobile workforce management tools to help alleviate stress and streamline an employee’s day-to-day activities, which results in happier employees.
At the heart of every well-oiled business is its employees. And, by taking care of employees and their mental wellbeing, you are able to promote a company culture that is supportive and adaptive to employees’ needs.
Whether you have employees working behind desks or in the field, you can help support their mental wellbeing by complementing your software solutions with an employee wellbeing tool.
What is Mobile Workforce Management vs Field Service Management?
When talking about mobile workforce management and looking for the best software solution, you may come across field service management as well. It’s important to note the crucial difference between the two, so that you can select the tool that is needed in your situation.
Mobile workforce management is geared around optimising processes around your employees. Field service management does the same, but is geared around physical assets, as in hardware, for example.
What are the Challenges of Mobile Workforce Management?
It’s likely you’re familiar with the phrase, all that glitters isn’t gold. So, along with the many advantages of mobile workforce management, it may appear with its own set of challenges, too. Some challenges that arise in this endeavour could include:
1. Decisions Around Data
Data-driven decision-making is here to stay and only growing in practice as the ability to capture data increases. Not only is the ability to capture data on the rise, but the sheer volume of data collected at any point in time is constantly and exponentially increasing.
The challenge isn’t in having data, but rather, knowing what data to focus on, as in choosing the right data to collect and manage.
For example, when you look at your team’s productivity, it may matter less as to how long it took them to fulfill a task, and instead, the real focus should be on the outcome, i.e. providing a solution to a happy customer.
To make even more precise management decisions, look to understand mental wellbeing. If employees are stressed, unhappy or lacking support, then it will ultimately lead to suffering of people, customers, and potentially, the business.
With a wellbeing platform, you can tap into knowing how your employees are truly feeling, especially when they are working off-site. Wellbeing tools provide data in the form of insights so that management and HR personnel can see exactly where support may be needed and make more informed decisions surrounding implementation.
2. Blended Workforces
Organisations are more likely to have a mixed workforce, including full-time, part-time, and contracted workers, than ever before. While this could create a challenge to manage, mobile workforce management software can take this into account inherently to boost scheduling abilities and reduce associated complexities.
At the end of the day, in any type of business, you want to make sure that your employees are supported with what they need, both physically and mentally. In turn, your customers reap top-tier service because the people delivering them what they need are well-taken care of.
When it comes to mobile workforces, mobile workforce management is a key aspect. For both employees on the move or in an office, prioritising mental fitness and wellbeing is a much needed compliment to workforce management software. Both employee wellbeing tools and mobile workforce management software can be utilised together to enable companies to support their employees as best as possible.