How do you communicate with a mobile workforce? Do you have ‘hard to reach’ employees in your organisation? What two-way channels do you have in place to ensure their voices can be heard?
I regularly have conversations with my clients, people in my network and peers about this topic, helping them think through the options that are available and creating strategies for success.
AB agency in the UK has produced a report looking at communicating with mobile workers and ways to ensure employees are at the heart of everything companies do. It includes examples from different organisations and tips to take away.
Here Eloise Hindes, (pictured) a consultant at the agency writes for my blog to share insights into the Here, There and Everywhere: Mobile Working report. Over to you Eloise…
Here, there and everywhere – the challenge of communicating with mobile workers
I’ve spent a great deal of time working with clients who face the challenge of communicating with difficult-to-reach employees.
These might be postal workers too busy out pounding the streets to check the intranet, or hi-tech accountants who expect to read their corporate publication on whatever device they choose, wherever they may get a chance to see it.
This challenge is only growing as expectations of mobility continue to rise, and while new technology can certainly provide some solutions, the key really lies in understanding the audience and focusing on engaging content that can work in a whole array of formats, rather than placing too much faith in single channels.
I have recently finished a report exploring the challenge that internal communicators face trying to get messages out to these groups, and attempting to get input back from them. I’ve looked at the latest research and made use of AB’s own experience to delve deeper into the demands of a workforce who increasingly consider:
work to be a thing they do, rather than a place they go.
The report looks at the mobile masses in three distinct, but overlapping groups.
- Those who are mobile because they have to be
Employees like postal workers, engineers and those on the factory floor who are not based in one place all the time. Often their mobile technology is functional at best, and they have limited access to channels like intranets or even emails. Too often these people on the frontline, closest to the product or with the greatest customer contact, are the least well informed.
- Those who are mobile because they want to be
Employees who are increasingly used to remote working or BYOD (bring your own device) policies. This group is growing fast, and the challenge in reaching them often comes from enabling collaboration and conversation when people are increasingly physically disparate. Here new technology can certainly play a role, but shiny tools are never a replacement for targeted and well-conceived content.
- Those who are mobile just because they are
Employees who, whether the result of their generation or just their experiences in an increasingly digital world, expect the ability to work where they choose as a given. It is this group that means, whatever your industry, mobile working will almost certainly become an issue for you soon even if it isn’t already.
In the report we look at practical best practice examples, and consider what might change as technologies continue to develop.
The hope is to get internal communicators thinking about the particular demands of their workforce, and the ways that these challenges can be successfully tackled.
I firmly believe that the growing tendency for mobile working, while certainly not making IC any easier, is making the function more important than ever before.
With a growing recognition of the importance of employee engagement added to the challenges of a disparate workforce, IC professions have a chance to show their expertise and help CEOs reap the reward of a connected, collaborative workforce, wherever they might be based.
Post author: Eloise Hindes.
Thank you for sharing some insights into Here, There and Everywhere. What struck me when reading through were the quotes and examples from various organisations.
For example the report highlights Unilever’s “agile approach.” The report states:
“Unilever’s Agile Working commitment shows that if organisations want to truly embrace more flexible working practices, how we manage and lead people needs to change.
Its programme aims to deliver an approach based on maximum flexibility and minimum constraints, and plans to make 30% of roles ‘location-free’ by 2015.
The programme is not promoted as an HR project or benefit, but a business strategy that seeks to optimise performance, while cutting the need for fixed office space and business travel.
It is investing heavily in mobile technology to enable both remote personal productivity and virtual collaboration.
The Agile framework includes performance management based on results rather than attendance or ‘presenteeism’. Managers receive an annual assessment of how well they are supporting their teams’ agile capability, and the company benefits from the stronger focus on results.
Unilever believes that the improved diversity that follows from making the organisation more accommodating to people with different lifestyles and commitments will strengthen the company.”
What do you make of that approach? I like the idea and am interested to see if they achieve their location free goals by next year. As ever, you’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.
If you have any questions after reading through the report, contact Emma Williamson at AB: email@example.com. Emma says: “I’d love to hear from anyone struggling with this issue currently, or those with a successful case study to share.”
First published on the All Things IC blog 2014.