Coping With the Rising Mobile Workforce and the BYOD Culture

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My how things change.

Several years ago, companies began taking employees out of offices and putting them into cubicles. From there, the trend went to open work spaces; then shared work spaces; and now large groups of employees don’t even work in the company building.

In fact, by 2014 more than 1 billion people —more than 30 percent of the global workforce — will work remotely.

Last year, the Society for Human Resource Management reported, for the first time, more than half of all U.S. companies offered employees the opportunity to work flexible hours or in programs like job sharing. These options give employees a lot more flexibility and freedom, and make them happier about their jobs because they’re able to put their lives together in ways that matter to them.

The need to manage and organize differently

Trends find leaders focusing on employees’ contributions and results rather than when or where their work is done, and it’s expected that this approach will soon become the norm, despite what recently transpired at Yahoo when CEO Marissa Mayer required all remote workers to return to the office.

To be successful in this environment, employees will need to build new skills and competencies. Leaders will also need to organize and manage differently, including:

  • Understanding workplace changes and their impact on employee productivity;
  • Identifying and building new skills across the workforce;
  • Targeting technology investments to better enable high performance.

The management challenge in the new work environment is compounded by the fact that work is less supervised and more autonomous. With 76 percent of employees reporting a significant increase in time spent working with data, leaders now need to focus on managing access to that data and removing the complications arising in a less routine, more ambiguous, and collaborative work environment.

But the former may be far more challenging than the latter.

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Hacking around corporate rules

Younger workers have grown up being empowered by user-centered experiences, technology, and tools focused on helping them do their best, and they have strong opinions about what works well for them. A new survey of Millennials found they believed BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to work was a right — not just a privilege — as a way for them to control their work and their lives.

Not only is it crucial for them to have complete freedom of use of their own tablets or phones, but 30 percent of them are contravening policies that don’t allow them to use their own apps. That’s a politically correct word for hacking workarounds, and is consistent with other research findings that between one-third and two-thirds of all workers are hacking around corporate rules, tools, and procedures that get in their way.

With the advent of the BYOD culture in the workplace, a flurry of recent studies show the benefits employees value the most are tied to the ability to use a mobile device of their choosing and have it supported by their company. This rising mobile workforce demonstrates that working set hours from a set location no longer applies, and employers must adapt to facilitate this new style of working to maintain happy and productive employees.

It may seem like an audacious concession for employers, but it’s ultimately a smart business decision.

This was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.

Named as one of the Ten Best and Brightest Women, one of the 25 Most Influential People in the incentive industry, and selected for the Employee Engagement Power 100 list, Michelle was inducted into the Incentive Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame and received their President’s and Karen Renk Fellowship Awards. She’s a highly accomplished international speaker, author, and strategist on leadership, company culture, workplace trends and employee engagement.

Michelle was the Founder and Chair of the Editorial Board of Return on Performance Magazine, and has been featured on Fox Television, the BBC, in Fortune, Business Week, Inc. and other global publications, and contributed to the books Bull Market by Seth Godin, Contented Cows Still Give Better Milk, and Social Media Isn’t Social.   Connect with her via LinkedIn or Twitter