Jobs & Unemployment

Amid Worker Shortage, How Mobility Can Enable a Flexible and Productive Workforce

By Joe Boyle, CEO, TRUCE Software and Dean Hager, CEO, Jamf (JAMF)

The disruption to global supply chains as we enter the holiday season has been well-documented. Products - from food to clothing, electronics and beyond - being stuck in limbo for extended periods of time could spell trouble when it comes to keeping shelves stocked and fulfillment centers bustling. Case in point: A report from ShipMatrix stated demand for peak season U.S. parcel delivery services will exceed the total capacity of the country's delivery network by roughly 4.7 million parcels per day.

Add to that a worker shortage that could be a years-long issue, and you have the perfect storm of hurdles for businesses at a time when many depend on the year's highest revenues.

Mobile devices at work: Friend or foe?

These macroeconomic issues won't be solved overnight, forcing companies to find new ways to maximize resources in order to keep business forging ahead. For many, that means increasing the digitization of work processes. A common avenue for doing so is to implement mobile technology, especially as an evolving work landscape has changed how, when and where many of us do our jobs. This shift had been underway for some time, but the pandemic has forced companies to expand the ways they utilize mobile technology to make work more efficient and flexible.

Research firm IDC said it best in their write-up, Mobile Workers Will Be 60% of the Total U.S. Workforce by 2024. According to the company, "The ability to quickly mobilize different segments of a company's workforce with capable and secure mobile solutions has never been more important, and U.S. organizations are signaling that investment in mobile-based management and security solutions will take precedence in 2020 and beyond."

So how can businesses ensure safe and appropriate device usage to keep workers focused at such a crucial point in time with mounting supply chain and labor pressures nipping at their bottom line?

Keeping employees productive and protected

Employers can enable the best a mobile device has to offer in work settings - regardless of where that is - by activating only what an employee needs in a given scenario. They can do so by managing device permissions at the individual user level, taking into account the employee's context such as their location, time of day or work group. As a worker's environment changes, so do their device permissions, automatically and in real time. This is referred to as contextual mobility management.

For example: While driving a forklift in an order processing center, an employee's device enables only the set of mobile features needed to help guide the driver on where to stack boxes, move pallets or scan deliveries. When that employee is no longer operating the equipment and moves, for example, into the breakroom for lunch, the device automatically reverts back to its full functionality. What's accessible on the device depends on what's happening around it.

The ability to dynamically adjust device permissions on an ongoing basis based on the context of each employee helps ensure the user isn't faced with non-work related distractions or interruptions that could pose a safety risk or drop in productivity.

Safe and appropriate device usage by workers should be of the utmost importance for employers. And this doesn't have to take the form of manual policing of "no phone zones" or asking employees to leave their phones at the door altogether. It's our belief that there's more to lose when prohibiting mobile technology from work environments, rather than embracing it.

Device freedom and the employee experience

Just as dynamic mobility management can improve a worker’s safety and efficiency, it can also improve their overall employee experience. This is especially important as the worker shortage shows no signs of abating any time soon. The options afforded to workers in terms of mobile technology, along with the tools used to manage their usage, contribute to an employee’s perception about the workplace and their ability to be productive. An independent study by Jamf and Vanson Bourne looked at the importance of device choice and the future of work, and almost 90% of respondents said they would take a pay cut to use their device of choice at work. This signifies the importance of allowing a level of flexibility for workers when it comes to the device and how it’s used.

Employee choice in this regard becomes an important consideration for businesses when thinking about ways to attract and retain workers. But whether an enterprise offers a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) option or provides company-issued devices, managing their use based on context will help ensure the organization's people and data are equally protected. Secure access to only relevant apps at the right times based on the employee's context can be achieved while still ensuring the user's privacy is not infringed upon.

Mobility is the way forward for the modern workforce. Businesses have more to lose when they restrict it rather than embrace it. Mobile technology can help workers be productive and safe, especially at a time when challenges like supply chain disruption and a labor shortage are presenting unanticipated hurdles for many organizations.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.