More and more professional workers in all phases of business are working from home office spaces. Your business may already have mobile and virtual workers, but if you have not yet implemented this option, now would be a great time to consider doing so.
Mobile workers in home office spaces and third places are a rapidly growing trend. In the event of inability to physically commute to a brick and mortar office space for any reason, mobile employees can continue performing their functions. The recent damages from Hurricane Sandy are a prime example, but other events such as blizzards, earthquakes, tornadoes, power grid failures and other similar events can impact a business much harder if virtual office spaces are not already functioning.
The United States government recognized this fact and passed the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. This legislation mandates that Federal agencies have in place strategies that permit their employees to perform their work remotely. By using alternative work processes during emergencies, work stoppages are minimized since mobile devices can have workers back at work as soon as power is available to operate computers and technological devices.
With a 41% increase in Americans working from home office spaces during the past decade, it is clear that business is finally embracing the alternative work methods of the mobile workforce. In fact, sometimes it is best to get away from work in the traditional office in order to get work done in a quieter, less hectic third place.
No longer should employers think of workers performing business outside the traditional office space as “telecommuters”. Today these workers represent a mobile workforce, going where business can most effectively be accomplished. For some time business professionals have stopped into third places such as coffee shops to conduct business but today companies are making these arrangements formal and acceptable.
There is a huge trend in office space rental to book a meeting space or work cubicle much like booking a hotel room. Entire businesses have become successful by providing the third places where a mobilized workforce can stop to conduct business meetings or have access to printers and copy machines.
The question in the minds of many business owners is “How do I create an effective mobile workforce?” Even with the obvious benefits of reduced overhead by reducing the square footage required when leasing office space, every business owner wants to ensure that going mobile or “moving into the cloud” does not impact productivity or profits. Here are a few simple keys to implementing an effective mobile workforce.
Touchdown Office Space: Sometimes a worker needs to come into an office physically but mobile workers don’t require assigned cubicles. Provide office space that is set up with current technology so that those workers that need to have an on-demand office. Hold meetings that require all company employees to attend at alternative sites such as hotel meetings spaces. Provide touchdown office space in a traditional leased office or contract with a touchdown space provider if you don’t need a brick and mortar headquarters for your business.
Answering Service: It’s important that going mobile doesn’t impact the company image as a professional entity. Either assign the main office clerical staff to handle phone calls for all employees or contact with a professional answering service. Unless you must maintain a significant on-site staff because of the nature of your business, the answering service solution is a big money saving option.
Technology: Be sure to remain on the cutting edge of technology so the benefits of new devices and communication methods can benefit your business. Provide business-dedicated equipment to employees and upgrade it often. New software applications and improved mobile devices are important to creating a mobile workforce that can stay in touch in the most effective ways and hold virtual meetings as needed.
Outsource: Freelance workers are more available than ever as more and more people open small service industry businesses such as virtual assistant services, writing and editing services and data entry or translation services. Freelancers are professionals who have chosen to become part of the mobile workforce by providing a skilled service to multiple clients. This can provide your company with services on an as-needed basis, allowing the employee with other skills to do the work at which they are most effective.
Communicate: Stay in touch with your mobile workforce. Make it a policy to have daily updates emailed so you know what projects or deals are in work and the status of on-going projects. Hold staff meetings, but do it virtually by using one of the many effective online meeting applications. Update your staff members just as your work in traditional meetings by using email or conference phone calls.
Accept Alternative Work Styles: Let your employees work in whatever way suits them best and allows them to be most effective. Some people work best from their home office space while others prefer third place workspaces while between meetings with clients. Still others need to use the quiet of landing spaces for tedious tasks. Don’t expect every mobile worker to operate in the same manner. Look at productivity, sales or profit, whichever metric best suits your type of business and the mobile workers’ tasks.
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By: James Osgood
Office Space , Office Space Design , Home Office , Flexible Workspace