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How Mobile Tech Changes the Way We Work
 

By Aliah D. Wright  6/6/2014

The proliferation of mobile technology has greatly changed the way employees work.

According to a survey by a company that builds secure employee mobile apps, only half (53 percent) of more than 325 U.S.-based workers surveyed said they spend the majority of their time (75 percent or more) behind a desk. The other half said they spend most of their day at non desk settings that include factories and warehouses, fields and farms, out on service calls (e.g., television, telephone, Internet, etc.) and on the road, among other places.

Of respondents, 96 percent reported they possess a mobile device.

What’s more, 42 percent said they use an employer-provided mobile device to get work done; 58 percent purchased their own mobile devices and of those, 66 percent use it for work-related purposes. 

Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of theCOMMSapp, which conducted the recently released theEMPLOYEEapp’s 2014 Employee Communications Satisfaction Survey, said, “Having recently attended Apps World 2014 in San Francisco, companies of all sizes … are beginning to recognize that they need to consider mobile strategies, not only for communications but for many other aspects of their business.” 

Gartner Inc. predicts that by 2018, 70 percent of mobile professionals will conduct work on personal devices and, according to the Pew Research Center, by 2016, 8 billion people will access the Internet from a smartphone.

“Whether or not a company supports a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, employees are using their devices [for] their jobs,” Corbin said. “Employers have an opportunity to take advantage of the power of these devices to improve communications and, hence, engagement. The mobile device presents an immediate solution for employers to connect with and directly engage with this audience.”

Security, however, must be taken into consideration, especially for HR.

The only way to secure a corporate handheld device “is to get it in your hands before pushing it out to the employee,” Jeremy Ames, president of Hive Tech HR and a member of the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Technology and HR Management Special Expertise Panel, recently told SHRM Online in an interview. “That way you can implement whatever security measures you need and control what applications are on the equipment.”

E-mail’s Not Dead Yet

According to the 2012 McKinsey report The Social Economy, corporate employees spend 28 percent of their time reading and answering e-mail. “But when companies use social media internally, messages become content. A searchable record of knowledge can reduce, by as much as 35 percent, the time employees spend searching for company information. Additional value can be realized through faster, more efficient, more effective collaboration, both within and between enterprises,” the report states.

The survey by theEMPLOYEEapp found that more than 93 percent of respondents said they still use e-mail and it “remains the most common way in which employers currently communicate important, company-specific information to their employees. And, without a better solution, e-mail is the preferred method by which employees want to receive company news (87 percent).”

Getting employees to adopt other communication methods is often challenging, experts say, and may require a change in culture. Among those other methods of communication featured in theEMPLOYEEapp’s survey:

•           In person: 54 percent of respondents would like to receive company news through this method.

•           Corporate intranets (such as SharePoint): 33 percent.

•           Mobile apps: 29 percent.

•           Conference calls/webinars: 25 percent.

•           Internal social collaboration networks (SharePoint, Yammer, Jive, Salesforce Chatter, etc.): 14 percent.

In terms of using these platforms on mobile devices, “82 percent of those with corporate intranet accounts say they either have never tried to access this channel via their mobile device or have a difficult time doing so. Similarly, with regard to social collaboration networks, 78 percent of those surveyed who have such networks have either never tried to access them or have a difficult time doing so via the mobile device,” according to theEMPLOYEEapp survey.

“Given the early stage in which mobile is becoming incorporated into business processes, it is not surprising that e-mail remains the primary internal communications method. Nevertheless, based on our many conversations with communications professionals, it is becoming clear that employees are overloaded with e-mails. As a result, important employee communications are being missed,” Corbin said.

He added, “The fact that employees find it challenging to access corporate intranets and social collaboration tools via mobile is likely a result of organizations maintaining legacy communications systems that were originally developed for desktop computers. Based on current research on the use of corporate intranets and as can be determined from our survey, trying to make legacy systems responsive to the mobile device is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. … Employers could benefit from a mobile-first communications strategy,” especially since 68 percent of adults connect to the Internet from such mobile devices as smartphones or tablets, according to the 2014 Pew Research Internet Project.

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

 

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