How Do I… use tech to help manage a mobile workforce?

Tim Mercer, CEO of Vapour

How Do I… use tech to help manage a mobile workforce?

The typical 9-5 office environment is on the decline, so nowadays employees are rarely stuck to a desk for their full working life. But as the business world becomes increasingly flexible, how can organisations use tech to manage a mobile workforce? Tim Mercer, CEO at Vapour Cloud, offers his thoughts…

The pace of business life is changing. Working hours are constantly evolving and the lines between professional and personal time are becoming blurred.

This can create challenges, not least the need to avoid burnout and knowing when to switch off! But it presents opportunities too – the flexibility for colleagues to work from any location, in any time zone, and with the same level of data access as if they were in the physical office environment.

For employees, this can mean more time spent with family, for instance, and for employers it can widen the reach when it comes to recruiting for that all-important talent.

What business owners need to consider, is how to create a digital infrastructure to support this mobile workforce. How can tech help them work efficiently and securely, wherever they may be? Here are three top tips to consider:

Security

Above all, the priority, especially looking ahead to the introduction of General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in May 2018, is security. You need to be certain that employees can access confidential business information without compromising data protection legislation, especially as the penalties for a breach are set to mount.

There are various ways to do this, from investing in centralised, encrypted Wide Area Networks (WANs) to restricting the use of employees’ own devices if they aren’t equipped with robust firewalls that will prevent cyber-attacks.

While GDPR has dominated the headlines in 2017, there is another piece of legislation that businesses need to be aware of - MiFID II.

From 3rd January 2018, MiFID II will impose new rulings on organisations that provide services relating to ‘financial instruments’ (for far more detailed guidance, visit the FCA website).

It will affect everyone from one-man financial advisors to small car dealers and vast call centres – plus everyone in between who holds financial-related discussions with customers and/or handles card payments over the phone.

The security of calls is, therefore, coming into the spotlight like never before, so organisations need to think how they will manage this, particularly if they have a remote workforce.

Robust, secure call recording is one important thing to consider – ideally with reporting capabilities. And, if a cloud or telecoms partner is used to facilitate the exchange of bank details over the phone, they must demonstrate Level 1 compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

Invest in modern tech

It may sound like a bold statement to make, but the traditional phone line is dying. Organisations’ customers are using more channels than ever before to communicate, including social media, video calls and email – as well as the phone.

Businesses, therefore, need to reflect these changing trends and behavioural preferences and empower employees to utilise the same communication tools that will enable them to really connect with their audience.

Relying on the traditional phone line may seem like the easy option, but it could equally be holding the company back.

Armed with the right technology, however, companies can ensure that their employees are able to work with zero impact on business connectivity, security and cost. There are also some massive benefits to be reaped in the event of a disaster recovery scenario as work can continue, as normal, just in a different location.

Don’t go in blind

It can be difficult to keep up with evolving technological capabilities, tightening legislation and market requirements.

But given the magnitude of compliance issues, this is not an area for dabbling. So, if there are any uncertainties surrounding how to empower a truly mobile or remote workforce, ask experts in this field to create the infrastructure for you.

Simply hoping that you won’t frustrate employees who can’t access the same data as their office-based comrades, or that you won’t get hacked when using a public wifi network, is a very risky strategy indeed.