Hire and inspire all of your mobile employees

reprinted with permission from the HP Small Business Center

The economic downturn that sent financial shivers through all businesses and the unemployment rate skyrocketing has a silver lining especially for small and medium businesses. With the economy turning around, and your business poised for growth, you have access to perhaps the world’s greatest talent pool ever.

The new era of connected mobility collapses time and distance; you can tap the potential of motivated and highly skilled individuals located almost anywhere! 

The ‘perfect’ candidate three time zones away may prove a better choice for your business than the ‘very good’ candidate located in the same city as your operations. Outsourcing repetitive tasks and some functions offers many benefits. But other times your business demands having the sustained contribution of a full-time employee.

So how do you find, equip, and maximize the potential of these mobile workers? Here are a few ideas to consider:

To find them, think like them. . .

Make sure the job description on your web site stands out! What intangible qualities do want your employee to possess? One music-related business in search of a marketing manager wanted to know which song they’d play at the office. Be creative. 

Put your social network to work. Spread the word to your LinkedIn connections. Your employees may be willing to do the same to their connections. Increasingly, Twitter is used to match employers with potential employees. 

Check references, as well as your candidate’s online presence. Arrange a video teleconference rather than only a phone interview. Some businesses rely on firms such as PI Worldwide that use surveys to make science-based decisions on individual’s potential. 

Provide the right tools, the right mobile infrastructure 

Now that you’ve made an important investment in human capital, it’s time to make the right technology investment. Technology, simply put, is the lifeblood of your mobile workforce. It enables them to connect, collaborate, create, report, print, prospect, code, propose, and much more.

The specific function of an employee will determine whether she requires a laptop, a desktop PC or a powerful workstation.

The ability to print high quality color or black and white documents, locally and remotely, is often a key requirement.
A support plan can minimize downtime.

Inspire! 

Despite having access to the best technology, working remotely is sometimes isolating. Engage your extended, mobile workforce as you do your employees who sit nearby.

Face-to-face meetings, even once a year, promote relationship building among team members. 

Be aware of the challenges your mobile workers face. If they participate in meetings by phone, for example, it is difficult to hear soft-spoken individuals, and impossible to participate in side conversations.

Set goals and objectives together and ask for regular status updates in writing—a best practice for all employees.

Take advantage! 

Incredible talent is out there! Find, equip, and inspire the newest members of your mobile team, and your business will reap the benefits of the potential you unleash.

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Remote working is no longer an employee perk, it’s a business necessity

Remote_working

Reprinted with permission from the Microsoft Small Business Center

 

The kind of office most of us are familiar with is a building with four walls and a roof that we probably drive to 40 or so hours each week, Monday through Friday. Today, many companies still maintain traditional offices, but the decision makers are also discovering that to compete in the current economy, employees must be able to do their jobs anywhere, anytime.

Microsoft recently commissioned a survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs among more than 4,500 information workers in 15 U.S. markets to better understand opinions and attitudes related to mobile and internal business technologies and capabilities. The survey results further underscore the growing requirement for mobile work solutions – more than half of respondents (57%) report that their company has a formal telework policy and more than three quarters of information workers (77%) say their company provides access to technology support for working remotely.

Working without walls – what it is, and isn’t At Microsoft, we like to describe remote working as “working without walls,” because it’s becoming much more than simply handing employees laptops and giving them the ability to check e-mail outside the office . . . though that’s a start. Rather, today’s business climate demands that employees be able to work just as effectively inside the office as they can outside the office. This means being able to use laptops as well as handheld devices to securely access vital business information, collaborate with colleagues (even face-to-face), make critical business decisions, and more.

Tools that can help A range of technology tools exists to help businesses effectively mobilize employees. Here are a few that are particularly helpful for working without walls.

Cloud-based software: One of the primary benefits the cloud has delivered to businesses of all sizes is access to software that formerly only existed on local servers and required employees to be in the office to use the applications. Now, thanks to the cloud, workers can use many of the programs they formerly only had access to in the office wherever they have a secure Internet connection.

Microsoft recently launched the beta version of Office 365 — an all-in-one solution that combines SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, and Office in an up-to-date cloud service. Ideal for letting employees remain productive in and out of the office, Office 365 makes things like videoconferencing, document and desktop sharing easy for mobile workers, as well as tasks like e-mail, chat, calendaring and document creation.

Smartphones: Sometimes, when working without walls, it’s just not efficient to conduct work from a laptop. For instance, you might be at a business lunch and can’t lug your laptop to the table, or it could already be stowed in the overhead compartment of an airplane when you realize you need to send off a quick e-mail before your plane departs.

In these instances, having a smartphone can make all the difference. A phone like Windows Phone 7, designed specifically for the business user, includes applications that make it possible to do virtually everything you already do on a desktop PC or laptop. It also includes numerous data protection features that help safeguard your business information should your phone be lost or stolen. What’s more, Office 365 will be available on Windows Phone 7, ensuring that users get the maximum productivity benefits this software provides.

Security enhanced operating systems: In those instances when using a laptop makes more sense than working from a smartphone, it’s vital that your computer’s operating system is security enhanced.

Windows 7, Microsoft’s newest operating system, is its most secure operating system to date and provides data encryption features through BitLocker — for hard drives, as well as BitLocker to Go — for removable disk drives. Another feature included in the Enterprise version of Windows 7 that’s particularly beneficial to mobile workers is DirectAccess, which gives users security enhanced and easy access to corporate networks without a VPN.

Collaboration, connection and security are business essentials inside, and outside the four walls of your office. Fortunately, today’s technology tools can easily help you empower employees to work productively from any location and will likely make your business leaner and more efficient as a result.

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