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Mobile workforces in 2020

April 20th, 2020

5 min read

A mobile employee uses Slack on a laptop, while working in a cafe. They’re holding their phone while typing a message on Slack.

Written by

Ben Long


The Tiny Way


Moving towards a mobile workforce in 2020?

The number of workplaces switching to a remote workforce in 2020 is unprecedented. Even before COVID-19 social distancing measures ramped up around the world, more workplaces were becoming mobile.

We believe the future of work is mobile, and here at Tiny, we’ve been ready for it for a while now. So, let’s talk a bit about what that means for businesses, and what you can start doing now to support your workforce as it becomes increasingly mobile.

What’s a mobile workforce?

A mobile workforce combines two things:

  1. People working from remote locations – including their home office, co-working spaces, and in customers’ homes and businesses.
  2. People getting their work done and staying connected via mobile devices – including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even handheld printers, scanners, and payment technology.

Why are more workforces going mobile?

Just a few years ago, working from home was still pretty uncommon. So, what’s changed? Mobile workforces have become increasingly common over the last few years due to better technology that enables more people to get their job done seamlessly from anywhere. Just a decade ago, smartphones and tablets were still pretty new to the market, and the internet has come a long way since then, too.

As a result, there’s been a greater demand for flexibility and work-life balance, and at the same time, a greater acceptance of mobile work. The bigger the mobile workforce gets, the more employers become comfortable with it.

Benefits of a remote workforce

Black notebook with white calligraphy font that says

Benefits of switching to a partly or fully mobile workforce include:

  • Better hires – You’re not limited to hiring employees within a 50km radius – you can hire the best person for the job just about anywhere in the world.
  • Happier, more productive people – Telecommuting has been linked to greater employee satisfaction and productivity.
  • Reducing lost hours – Employees can often continue to do their work through minor illnesses or family disruptions where they’d otherwise need to take a sick day.
  • Lower environmental impact – If your employees don’t have to go into the office each day, they’ll minimize their car/plan travel and lower their carbon footprint.
  • Reduced expenses – Businesses can save big on costs when employees don’t take up physical space in the office.
  • Business continuity – In the event that something catastrophic happens that prevents people from accessing your headquarters or offices, (like, for example, an earthquake, hurricane, or pandemic), work can mostly continue on as normal.

So, to sum up the benefits, mobile workforces are often happier, more affordable, and more effective. 

What are the challenges of having a mobile workforce?

It’s not all comfy slippers and office cats on video chat. If you’re about to transition your team to mobile work, you need to be aware of the common challenges:

  • Productivity – The biggest concern (and objective) of businesses with remote employees is usually ensuring they stay productive even when they’re not in the usual office environment.
  • Access – Employees need reliable access to their data, applications, communications, and tools so they can get their jobs done.
  • Security – It’s not always as simple as logging onto your smartphone or laptop. Employees need the same level of security when they work from home or on the road, so that company and customer data stays safe.
  • Transparency and tracking – It’s tricky to find the balance between monitoring your employees to ensure safety, compliance, and accountability…and micromanaging, breathing down their necks, and eroding trust. What this will look like will depend on the people in your team, the type of work they do, and the risks associated with using company assets and data.
  • Connection and collaboration – Face-to-face is the gold standard and the best way to connect, build trust, and forge a shared understanding. But when that’s not possible, teams need to find ways to create and maintain connection and enable teamwork to happen remotely.

What do mobile workforces need in 2020?

Dog lounges back on a couch while moving paws as if typing on a laptop.

These days, the number one thing most mobile workforces need is good internet. Without a reliable internet connection, working from home can be frustrating. Depending on your team’s location, speeds and bandwidth can vary from really good to really poor, and there may be little they can do about it. We need more governments to invest in better internet infrastructure and see it as equally important as investing in road infrastructure. Besides, if more people are able to work from home, it would take a huge amount of pressure off roads!

We also need to see more companies designing for mobile first. Apps, websites, and learning management systems (LMS) need a much stronger emphasis on the mobile experience. This isn’t anything new. We’ve been saying this for well over a decade now. But too many still leave mobile design an afterthought (aka just tweaking the desktop version slightly) when it might be even more important than desktop for your audience. Screen sizes, gestures, and design elements are just some of the things that work differently on mobile and can significantly impact your user experience. In TinyMCE 5.1, we enhanced our mobile experience so that content creators can write and publish content whether at their desk or on the move.

Other things mobile workforces need are:

  • Reliable cloud services – Continuity only works if all the data your employees need is backed up and easily accessible in the cloud.
  • Accessible security options – Mobile employees need easy, affordable, and standardized ways to implement security on personal devices so they can do their work without risking a breach.
  • Tools and apps – Asana, Trello, Jira, Slack, Google Calendar, Zoom, and other apps can help employees share priorities and stay connected to each other while working remote.
  • Virtual connectivity - Don’t let your workforce feel isolated even if they’re not able to work in your physical office in-person.
  • Virtual collaboration – For example, Tiny is currently working on a real-time collaboration solution for TinyMCE, so we’ll be sharing a lot more on this topic over the next few months.

The future is mobile and it’s here now

3D text on a starry background that says

We’ve known for a while now that mobile workforces are the future...but quite suddenly, the future is here right now (due to social distancing measures in many countries that’ll likely be in place for many months).

It’s quite likely that some of the current “temporary” measures will leave a lasting change, and maybe some people won’t ever go back to full-time in-office work. So, make sure you're investing in the resources you need to help you manage a remote team both now and in the future.

Contact us to find out how other developers are using TinyMCE in their mobile apps. We’d be happy to have a (virtual) chat.

byBen Long

Computer scientist, storyteller, teacher, and an advocate of TinyMCE. Reminisces about programming on the MicroBee. Writes picture books for kids. Also the wearer of rad shoes. “Science isn’t finished until you share the story.”

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