Last week, I hosted a TweetChat on the topic of leading in a mobile world, which focused on the impact of mobile technology on the workforce. The chat was joined by Tom Suder, President of Mobilegov and Industry Chair of the ACT/IAC Advanced Mobility Working Group, Gadi Ben Yehuda, Social Media Director of the IBM Center for the Business of Government, Adam Jelic, Leader of IBM Public Sector Workforce Transformation Solutions, and Strategy and Innovation Consultant, Ken Stockman, among others.
Of course, no conversation about mobile technology and the workforce is complete without discussing the changes to the definition of the workplace. As this infographic puts it, “Mobile technology has broken down the office walls.” Indeed, it has enabled workers to work from home, from Starbucks, from their client’s office, and where have you, but has this move been for the better?
In many ways, government has been leading the move to telework. Agencies have had telework and flexible schedule policies for years. While the full impact of these policies is still to be seen, there are some benefits we can see already. “I think that [mobile government] has [the] biggest potential to increase capability and reduce costs,” wrote Tom Suder. Ken Stockman elaborated adding that the combination of mobile technology and mashups has enhanced the usefulness of big data. There certainly are opportunities for increased cost savings and “Collective Intelligence,” but how has this “wall-less” office affected our employees?
A recent Harvard Business Review blog stated that, in fact, remote workers tend to be more engaged than those working in the office. Those of us in the tweetchat tossed around this theory, especially whether or not proximity breeds complacency, and I am sure others could debate this at length as well. But I think Adam Jelic put it best in writing, “Strictly mobile or strictly office breeds complacency. Creativity comes from working where you need to.”
We, as leaders, should remember that the workforce is made up of individuals who all have different work styles and needs. And to get the most from our employees, we should focus on providing ample opportunities for success – whether that is from mobile technology, crowd sourcing, or even good, old fashion face to face meetings. Ultimately, mobile technology, and all the benefits it brings with it, is a tool we must learn to leverage in a way that is meaningful to our organizations.
A final note: This opportunity to reduce costs while increasing efficiencies and collaboration does not come free of charge, and we would be remiss to deny the security challenges facing a mobile workforce – but more on that to come.