Professional services industries are amidst a technology-fueled transformation. The information age has increased competition and taught clients to expect far more for much less. This, on top of a billable hour structure, is kicking firms into high gear.
Technology is a key tool for fueling productivity and connectivity, but the digital transformation also has another major impact on the world of professional services: the mobile workforce. New technology is allowing staff to pick up work from anywhere in the world, and achieve a better work-life balance in the process. The result is an increase in productivity and staff satisfaction levels that can boost your business’ bottom line—and the rise of business mobility solutions that ease the transition.
One study predicts that by 2020, remote workers will account for 42% of the global workforce. If your teams haven’t already begun making shifts to remote work, it’s only a matter of time before this trend catches up with you. Here’s what you need to know about the challenges, opportunities and landscape of the remote workforce.
Current Trends in Mobile Workforce for Professional Services
Traditionally, professional services have gotten a bad rap for demanding hours and a poor work-life balance. However true this perception may be, the tide is shifting toward more flexibility for workers in legal and other professional services fields. The rise of the gig economy has now enamored the world’s best and brightest talent, giving rise to the concept of the “supertemp”—the lawyer, CMO or other trained professional who opts for freelance, contract or remote work.
Workplace policies such as flex-time, temporary leave and phased retirement are making employees’ lives more flexible than ever before. Chief among these is the idea of the virtual firm. The growth in mobile devices combined with DaaS (desktop-as-a-service) solutions allows lawyers, auditors and others to work from anywhere in the world, opening the door for virtual positions. By tapping into DaaS, your staff can have the same working environment regardless of their location. And as technology advances, security advancements are allowing enable them to access their firm’s network safely.
This trend isn’t limited to the professional services sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24% of all employed people in America did some or all of their work from home in 2015. By 2016, it was estimated to have reached 43% of the total workforce, equal to 63 million people. In Australia, experts believe that the completion of the National Broadband Network will enable roughly 12% of public servants to telecommute.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24% of all employed people in America did some or all of their work from home in 2015.
Benefits of a Mobile Workforce
The benefits of remote working for employees are easy to pinpoint. Who doesn’t want more time to spend with their family, less time spent commuting, or the flexibility to work from anywhere? But the boons of a mobile workforce aren’t a one-way street. Here are a few ways that a mobile workforce could boost your business’ bottom line.
Studies have shown that remote workers are more satisfied than traditional workers. They also feel more valued by their company. With competition between firms at an all-time high and staff turnover rates rising, happy employees can be one key to your business’ success.
Happy workers are generally more productive. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that employees were 13.5% more productive when working from home than they were in the office.
When employees work from home, overheads go down. One study found that if staff were allowed to work from home just half the time, firms could save $11,000 per employee each year. If staff are happier, as suggested above, firms will also save on costly recruitment fees.
These are just a few reasons why professional services firms are embracing a business mobility solution—technology that provides secure access to apps, data, desktops and services, over any network.
The evolving security needs of professional services
As with any emerging trend, remote working comes with its challenges. Perhaps most significant for firms is the problem of security. As increasing amounts of work becomes digitized, firms need to be aware of the potential cybersecurity risks. Australia, like many other global markets, is transforming its data security legislation, putting increased pressure on legal firms and other organizations to report data breaches to consumers and regulators. Without the right secure business mobility technologies, remote working can pose a significant risk for data breaches and other issues.
While employees may see a fantastic opportunity to work in their favorite cafe, they could be putting the entire firm’s private data at risk if they work over a public wifi. The devices themselves could also be at risk. If devices get infected with malicious malware that has the potential to access company data through a network connection, it can be virtually impossible for in-house IT departments to fix.
Other Challenges of a Mobile Workforce
It’s not just security that poses a challenge to the mobile workforce. Several other challenges must be overcome to implement a successful remote working strategy.
While most of the workforce will be motivated by a remote working scheme, there is always the risk that some staff may take advantage. While this is less likely in a firm where staff tend to be more driven, it can still be hard for partners and other managers to track how staff are spending their time and what they are working on.
Not being able to speak to staff directly face-to-face can also cause breakdowns in communication and inefficiencies. This can make it difficult for managing staff to assign and manage caseloads.
For remote working to work, your teams need to have the same experience that they do in the office at home—or wherever else they are getting work done. If they can’t access pertinent files or have trouble getting online applications to work properly, productivity levels and billable hours will suffer.
Making sure far-flung devices are kept updated with the latest versions of applications and software can be a nightmare for in-house IT departments. IT support can become an issue if staff can’t access devices remotely to fix issues.
The shift to DaaS
To solve key issues in security and compatibility, savvy professional services firms are adopting business mobility solutions. The global DaaS market has been forecast to grow more than 11% per year until 2021 thanks, in part, to the following benefits.
DaaS Cost effectiveness
Licensing a DaaS subscription for every employee is far more cost-effective than the cost of installing and managing an in-house system. It can also help you to reduce costs of other parts of your firm, too. This solution makes managing the updates and security of your network and applications across every single device possible from one dashboard. As a result, firms can dramatically cut the amount of money they spend on IT maintenance.
With firms increasingly concerned about data breaches, security is of the utmost importance. Leading DaaS systems are password locked so that they can’t be accessed by third parties in the event of device theft. Remote access is also secure and all information transferred across the network is encrypted.
DaaS Accessibility and flexibility
With DaaS solutions, all files, apps and documents are stored centrally and can be accessed anywhere at any time. This means that your staff get the same desktop experience, regardless of their location. File syncing and sharing means that your team doesn’t have to worry about overwriting the work of other employees or finding the most up-to-date casework files.
The global DaaS market has been forecast to grow more than 11% per year until 2021 thanks, in part, to the following benefits.
Staying Ahead of the Digital Curve
As more professional services firms embrace mobile workforces, it will be important to keep ahead of the digital curve. Security threats will continue to grow in number and sophistication. As a result, firms will have to constantly update their cybersecurity strategy.
The quality of remote working that firms provide will also become a deciding factor for employees in the near future. To ensure they are attracting the best talent possible, firms must continue to improve the remote working experience for employees through a secure, seamless and flexible system.
More professional services leaders are embracing a mobile workforce to increase cost-efficiencies, productivity and employee satisfaction. Discover how business mobility solutions can improve remote working for your firm and your employees.