Since I will be presenting at the M-days in Frankfurt on Feb 2nd 2012 I’ve started collecting my thoughts on the mobility aspects of information work. Here’s the first five I’ve put down in writing 🙂
1. Time to burn
There is always time at airports, train stations or hotels that is…you might want to say: left over. It is time where booting up a laptop doesn’t make much sense or simply would take too long. Not always a book is at hand or a person to talk to. That’s the moment where nowadays a lot of people pull out their smartphone to “burn” that time. It could be the moment where a digital workplace could offer services that allow employees to conduct and get rid of simple tasks ‘on the go’.
Of course you can start the argument about blending work and private time or not allowing employees to even rest while waiting for the next ride. However, there will be a significant number of employees that will be appreciative and probably belong to the ones really willing to make a change and drive things. Enabling them to get e.g. administrative stuff done while being on the road or allowing them to take some notes or drop some ideas straight into a collaborative workspace will add value to them and the organization.
If an organization has already mastered the move away from e-mail as the only communication channel it’s even more necessary to give access to the new channels through a mobile device. Otherwise employees are simply cut off the information flow as soon as they leave the office.
2. Lowering the barrier to start things
We all know the tasks at work where just cannot be bothered to even start them. You will always find an excuse why something else was more important. All you need would be the small ignition of just getting started. Mobile services could offer access to that ignition by e.g.
- starting to create a sales lead and activate a completion reminder
- quickly adding a couple of pictures and a voice note to CRM
- capturing the bullet points for the minutes of the previous meeting
- starting the questionnaire of the annual review process
Once initiated it will be “easier” to actually finish the task and kind reminders through mobile or classic channels can keep it on top of the employees mind.
3. Make use of mobile related information or device infrastructure
Depending on the use case mobile devices can offer either information (e.g. geo data like a location) or tools (e.g. voice recording, camera) that could enrich data submitted on the go. Making use of features that reliefs the employee from manually adding data will add value to the user as well as the receiver of data or information. It will even pay into the previous point of loweing the barriert to start certain tasks. Submitting a voice note to a customer profile – a mental note of and idea or of what someone has said in a meeting – is simply more convenient than having to write everything down. Even the photo of a flip chart or business card can be information that would otherweise stay in someone’s head or pocket.
4. Become a result driven organization
Beyond tasks and features there is a factor of future information and knowledge work that is tightly connected to the question of mobility: work culture.
Too many organizations measure commitment or dedication by the time an employee spends in the office – at the desk. If a company makes the decision to (consequently) mobilize the work force it has to bear the (cultural) consequences as well. A mobilzed work force can be anywhere and most likely wants to make use of it. So tying them to the desk doesn’t even remotely fit with the concept.
At the end of the day this actually means that employees won’t be measured on presence any longer. They will be measured by the results they deliver – individually as well as in teams. As long as a remotely working employee does not stand in the way of teams or partners/clients to achieve their desired results work could be done where and whenever it would be a good fit in the day.
5. Be green
This is far from being rocket science: mobilizing a work force automatically leads to the requirement of digitalizing information and of making it available for remote access – and of course to make it findable. A shift to digital information and document management leads to less paper and space required for distributing and storing data…
The next step will be to power devices with renewable or green energy to influence the carbon foot print of information workers even further.