How Mobile Innovation Is Driving New Ways Of Working In The Field

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Samsung

The disruptions of 2020 have fundamentally changed how we work. Social distancing, minimising our contact with objects in the environment that are not our own possessions, and remote working have all forced organisations to re-assess how they work – sometimes right down to the foundation.

Working from home has occupied much of the media conversation through the year, but the disruption of 2020 has affected how those that cannot work from home operate, too. Field workers, for example, have needed to adopt new working arrangements, and develop COVID-19 safety plans that are specific to their respective sectors.

With plenty of evidence that, globally, these changes to work styles are here to stay, the priority for many businesses has shifted from focusing on “keeping the lights on” to how to make these new approaches sustainable in the long term. The good news for both employers and employees is that those changes that are being driven not only deliver safer ways of working, but also helping to boost both productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

What we need to work differently

Prior to the pandemic, over 50 per cent  of field service workers still conducted operations manually and lacked easy access to all necessary information. This is changing, as contactless sharing of information becomes standard (and mandatory), and companies shift their staff to app-driven technology environments, powered by the high-speed mobile Internet capabilities that 5G technology is enabling.

It's telling that organisations are citing the ability for enterprise mobility to improve employee productivity (57 per cent) ahead of what might have been the expected goal in this climate; to reduce the cost of doing business (49 per cent)[1].

To achieve this, organisations move through a three-phase strategy:

  • Stage 1 - Mobile friendly: Many organisations are currently at this stage, where employees have a separate device for desk and mobile work, with complex tasks being done on laptops or desktops off-site. Mobile phones are used on-the-go for simple tasks like making calls or checking emails. For many organisations, getting to this stage has been the focus in response to the immediate needs of the disrupted working environments in 2020.
  • Stage 2 - Mobile ready: At this stage phones co-exist with other computing devices such as laptops and PCs. However, critical applications become increasingly available on the mobile devices.
  • Stage 3 - Mobile only: At this point the worker no longer needs to worry about a laptop or desktop; all their work functions have been made available on the devices that they carry with them. It is at this point that the convergence of devices delivers maximum value to the field worker and the enterprise.

The next generation of “field workers”

Organisations will be keen to make that transition to a “mobile only” future. Research shows that 60 per cent of global enterprises are testing smartphones as their company’s IT-supported 3-in-1 device, and 15 per cent will have adopted it by 2021[2].

This has particularly strong and compelling implications for field workers. The benefits to doing so for include:

  • Push-to-talk, to allow employees to answer calls while keeping protective equipment such as gloves on.
  • Wearables to monitor the health signs of workers and improve contact tracing protocols.
  • Augmented reality, allowing employees to use their device camera to process data in the environment in real time (such as barcode scanning).
  • AI, which will improve work order management by delivering relevant information on a task directly to their remote device in real time.
  • Improved interaction with customers, clients and co-workers, regardless of where both parties are located (for example, socially distanced).
  • Contactless proof of delivery, so customers no longer need to touch the field worker’s device, minimising the indirect physical contact between the two.

What this means is in total is a healthier workplace. It benefits the individual in being able to get their work done more effectively, efficiently, and safely, and it benefits the organisation by lowering staff churn and engaging with the younger generations by giving them the tools to work in the way that they’re comfortable working. Enterprises also benefit from the improved responsiveness and task management by being able to run a more efficient operation.

What started as a rush to adopt best practices to cope with a pandemic is going to accelerate technology imperatives that will ultimately deliver better outcomes for both employee and employer. There was already a trend towards device convergence and advanced mobility across industries with field workers. Those organisations that are rolling these solutions out now are discovering a host of additional operational benefits, and as a result, they won’t be looking back.

For more information on Samsung’s mobility solutions for field workers, click here.

References:
  1. Future of Work: Device Convergence Empowering Next-Generation Mobile Workers

  2. Future of Work: Device Convergence Empowering Next-Generation Mobile Workers

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.