Want to know what a mobile workforce looks like?
Here’s one example: 500 employees spread out across eight countries. They work where they want, when they want, and use unified communication and collaboration (UCC) tools to “interact” and conduct project meetings. These employees rarely meet physically – perhaps twice a year for group-wide meetings.
This description of a mobile workforce is not unusual nor is it unique, as almost half of the participants in a survey commissioned by Cisco Systems said an “increase in workforce mobility” was a key driver for investing in technology.1
Indeed, more companies are investing in a mobile workforce2 for good reasons:
Good reasons aside, SMB owners who are serious about attracting and retaining talent cannot avoid having a mobile workforce (MW), due to the “structured but flexible work” demands of a technologically-savvy millennial workforce,7 and an aging population that is working longer, and from home.8
The question is not why, but how an SMB workforce can be mobile: how to invest in a suitable, secure and scalable mobile workforce architecture (MWA).
Today, the ‘how’ is made easier, thanks to faster broadband speeds, increasing smart device usage, and better global wireless connectivity. Yet, unless you have deep pockets to afford an in-house IT team.
Here are five pointers for you to start the conversation with your vendor:
These tools connect your mobile employees globally and empower them to better communicate and collaborate across time zones. They give your workers valuable “face time” with remote colleagues and drive teamwork. Internal digital forums also encourage idea generation and content sharing among employees. No two SMBs have the same mobile workforce requirements, and you need to balance communication needs against budget constraints when you weigh your vendor’s recommendation.
Berg Insight says that about 2.5 million organizations will have a BYOD policy by 2018.9 Globally, each person will own an average of 3.64 connected devices.10 Over 50% of respondents in a Cisco Connected World survey expects to use company devices for work and play.11Your company needs a BYOD policy now to cater to this growing trend. Besides providing your employees with more flexibility, a good BYOD policy means your workers can get more work done, even when they are outside the office.
A good BYOD policy will include:
Data protection technology has increased in sophistication but so has malware technology. A sound BYOD strategy requires a fine balance between protection and ease of use and access.
Many SMBs are using private cloud, big data and desktop virtualization which improve operational efficiencies, and also protect sensitive, business-critical data. Deploying the right defense infrastructure is crucial in preventing deployment delays, service disruptions and missed opportunities. This requires careful thinking and expert advice. It is best to work with an expert vendor such as a managed service provider (MSP) who has a strategic overview of all the best-of-breed solutions available in the market.
Some organizations fail to realize that their employees are their weakest link. The May 2017 WannaCry attack is a good example, hitting over 200,000 individuals by the third day.12 Enabling greater mobility without any proper security controls to protect corporate assets on employee-owned devices is asking for trouble.
Lastly, to support the needs of a mobile workforce that has countless connections made by countless user devices throughout the day, your company needs an agile server/network that can cater to usage peaks and troughs, to ensure that communication remains seamless and applications can be deployed quickly.
The design and execution of a mobile workforce strategy is critical to the business success of SMBs in today’s increasingly mobile and connected world. Ask us how you can do it right, with Cisco Start.
 Detailed findings of the Cisco study will be released soon