Mobile workforces are more common than ever, as companies deploy more workers in the field than in years past. One of the reasons for this rise in deployment is the improvement of the tools available to provide employees in the field. There are now smartphones, netbooks and notebooks that can turn a worker on the run into a fully productive employee who just happens to be out of the office. It is more important than ever to not only outfit such workers with good tools, but to provide an infrastructure and training to maximize the benefits of the deployment.
Kevin Tofel takes a good look at empowering the mobile workforce (subscription required), and makes a good point that connectivity is the key for such a deployment. The tools provided to mobile workers are just dead weight if they can’t tap into the web, especially the corporate network, to fully leverage the technology. Mobile workers today can easily suffer no disadvantages from being out of the office, but connectivity is vital.
I remember a decade ago when I used a Palm xv PDA with an Omnisky cellular modem. This modem snapped onto the back of the Palm and turned it into a mobile communication station with full email capability. This was one of the first cellular modems available, and it opened an entire level of productivity for me never seen before. I worked for a firm based in Europe at the time, and the time difference was always an issue with those of us located in the U.S. This Palm/Omnisky combo meant I got corporate email as soon as they were sent, whether I was at home or out and about. It was a tremendous advantage, even though it was limited by today’s standards.
Today’s mobile tools are much more advanced, and as long as they can be connected to the world wirelessly they can be a full “office in a bag.” Smartphones can go a long way to keeping the mobile worker both in contact with the office and productive through interaction with the communication. Notebooks (and netbooks) can be a full office replacement for employees in the field. It is a good time to be mobile, as long as companies deploy good equipment and provide adequate training for those using it.
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Are You Empowering Your Mobile Workforce?