By Luis De Souza
Remote working is on the rise. It’s estimated that flexible working will be the main option for more than 70% of employers by 2020. Step back to 2012, when Gallup data showed 39% of employees worked remotely spending at least some of their time working in a location different from their coworkers. In 2016, 43% of employees worked away from their team at least part of the time.
Not surprisingly mobile technology in the workplace is climbing the corporate ladder — from millennials to the boardroom — with no sign of slowing down. More than 50% of searches are on mobile devices — smartphones and tablets — surpassing computers. Google reports more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the U.S. and Japan. Clearly, the future of search exists on a mobile device. However, mobile is not a singular platform. It is divided between two giants: Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iOS. Reportedly 75% of Google’s mobile search revenue comes from iOS.
In 2017, adults in the U.S. will spend more than one hour per day using their mobile device than they will on their desktop or laptop, as explored in the eMarketer report “Six B2B Mobile Marketing Trends for 2016: With a More Mobile Workplace, Budgets and Tactics Must Follow.”
It’s the same around the world. For instance, employees in the UK told the recent What Workers Want survey they like to be able to work exactly how and where they want — and anything else reduces their productivity.
So what does this mean for employers who need to keep pace with workers and technology? With a goal to enhance performance, many business leaders are offering flexibility, opportunities to work remotely, and mobile apps to “app-propriately” meet demands of the fast paced, modern workforce.
As more employees use mobile devices to complete their work quickly, more organizations and workers are embracing specialized mobile apps. According to a CIO article, a recent Apperian survey found more than 70% of respondents plan to equip more than 1,000 users with mobile apps. Mobile adoption can rely heavily on help desk support, a BYOD policy, and other factors.
3 Benefits of Mobile Apps in the Workforce:
- Increased productivity
- Greater flexibility to work in different locations and spaces in the corporate environment
- Greater ability to connect to a video call from a mobile device to support collaboration
As consumers, people increasingly use apps for a quick response to whatever they need or wherever they need to be when booking vacations, hotel rooms, etc. Employers are starting to mirror this behavior by adapting apps that give the same quick response, for example when booking rooms and desks for meetings — giving workers access to comprehensive data and information on demand. Booking meeting rooms and desks on mobile devices can be as easy as browsing to check hotel availability.
Mobility supports different scenarios in terms of corporate meetings and staff collaboration. Consider both formal and informal meeting room bookings:
- Formal meeting space — booked well in advance, at a premium space (Outlook or desktop device is mainly used but mobile devices are gaining speed).
- Informal meeting space — booking a small room, a huddle space, or a desk in the corporate meeting environment. Mobile apps are needed since these meetings require a quick turnaround — usually less than an hour. Informal engagement is now a part of the corporate workplace. Millennials tend to check availability of colleagues with a text message, find the space, and book it through an app in a short timespan.
- Only 50% of bookings are from people using a booking icon thru their Outlook (desktop).
- Combining mobile with real-time digital signage provides an efficient experience for the agile working community. (AV device or touch screen panel shows “in real-time” what’s free or will be free some point in the future so employees can book the space or desk on their mobile device and inform colleagues.)
- If you offer someone a fast experience of booking, then fast becomes their default.
The NHS, the national healthcare provider in the UK, and other corporations worldwide, are finding increasing mobile usage across their organization drives a demand for access to increased ad hoc bookings, video conferencing, and the need for an optimized user interface. NHS chose to utilize QuickBook, an app from my company, NFS Technology, for its meeting room, desk, and resource booking functions. QuickBook provides access to Rendevous, a meeting room and desk booking sofware offered by my firm that works on multiple platforms.
My experience is that a combination of space management technology and mobile apps promotes adoption of better bookings from staff in sectors ranging from healthcare to legal to corporate enterprises.
Mobile is quickly shaping the way employees engage with colleagues: it’s fast, it’s easy and it’s “app-propriate” for the workplace. Mobile apps help staff organize their working environment proactively, and also helps organizations manage their workspace efficiently and productively.
De Souza is CEO of NFS Technology Group, an international provider of workspace technology solutions.