5 Tips for Managing Employees in a Post-PC Era
BY Minda Zetlin
Make no mistake: Your employees will use their own mobile devices to do their jobs. Here's how to ensure your data stays safe.
Intel executives probably wish they could have just stayed in bed. The company's stock has continued its downward trend since the company announced Friday that its revenue for 2012 will be lower than expected. It's a no-brainer, many observers observed. Intel serves the PC market pretty much exclusively. And personal computers are rapidly losing their relevance.
Intel's woes are just one more sign that we are entering the post-PC era, where everyone who can will choose a smartphone, tablet, or other device to do the stuff he or she used to do on a desktop or laptop. This has major implications for your marketing strategy, of course. But you may also need to rethink how you manage your employees in this new era where computers are old hat.
Here are five things you should already be doing to manage a workforce that--no matter what industry you're in--increasingly wants to be mobile.
1. Create a BYOD policy.
"BYOD" stands for "bring your own device" and this widespread trend has tech execs at large corporations all in a tizzy. Make no mistake: You want your employees bringing their own devices. Research confirms what you've probably noticed already, that employees who can work on mobile devices tend to do work more. A recent study by the global wireless provider iPass found mobile-enabled employees report putting in up to 20 more hours online per week thanks to the greater flexibility mobility provides. And if you don't have a BYOD policy, chances are employees will use their devices for work anyway, whether you want them to or not.
2. Protect your data.
One of the first requirements in your BYOD policy should be the ability to remotely wipe all data off a mobile device if it is stolen or lost. Otherwise, everything from your new product design to the balance in your business accounts could become public knowledge if a smartphone falls out of someone's pocket, or gets forgotten in a bar as famously happened to Apple--twice.
Remote wiping capability is "IT Security 101″ according to the iPass report. Yet only 55% of employees in the survey said their companies require it. Does yours?
3. Make it easy to comply.
One important feature of your BYOD policy is that it should be painless for employees to follow. Why? Because if it's not, they'll circumvent it. Twenty-four percent of smartphone users and 35% of tablet users in the iPass survey say they've used an unauthorized workaround to gain access to corporate information on mobile devices, most often because they need to do something quickly and working with IT to gain access takes too long. Avoid this security risk by making sure employees have secure and hassle-free mobile access to your company's systems before they need it.
4. Make sure your internal systems work in a mobile world.
You already know you need mobile versions of your websites and/or apps that customers can quickly and easily use from anywhere. The same goes for your internal portals and systems. Not only will this make it easier for employees to do their jobs better, it will avoid security risks from forcing them to borrow other people's computers. Would you rather a sales rep accessed your internal financial information from a tablet with your approved anti-virus software installed, or by logging in remotely from a desktop in your customer's office?
5. Consider redesigning your workplace.
Here's a question that might blow your mind: If employees are fully mobile, do they need a fixed work space anymore? Some companies have taken mobility all the way, letting employees do everything by smartphone, laptop, or tablet--and then eliminating assigned cubicles or desks.
The advantage of a more fluid workspace is that people who need to work together temporarily on a project can sit together for as long as they need to and then disperse. Gathering for a meeting becomes a more seamless process. Employees get to know everyone else in the company, not just the people who happen to sit next to them.
In some companies, decorating one's work space with family pictures and children's art projects is very important, and if yours is one of them, this may not work. But for the right company, an approach like this could might make for a more dynamic, nimble, and cohesive work force.