This is the fourth part of our series of posts on the 6 hot themes that will be affecting HR in 2013. Here we explore some of the benefits and concerns of new mobile networking trends—and how they impact HR.
Work is increasingly mobile.
46% of Americans of working age own some sort of smart mobile device. And working remotely by using those devices has been significantly on the rise since their introduction. Flex-time, telecommuting and remote offices have all benefited from the rise in mobile work. (In fact, Globoforce client Symantec has been leading the telecommute charge since the 1990s.)
The mobile work trend is widely expected to grow to incorporate 43% of all workers by 2016. This increase, along with an accompanying focus on work/life balance, means that more workers than ever are stepping out of the office. Though many of us find that—for good or bad—these mobile devices now tether us to our workplaces around the clock.
The reasons for this are obvious. The recent explosion in mobile apps means that many functions that previously required a desktop machine or a meeting can now be accomplished on the go—increasing productivity and saving time and money across the board—not to mention yielding tons of great data in the process. The proliferation of HR mobility tools over the past year has been remarkable.
Yet, the rise in mobile has also led to complications for HR. Chief among these is a blurring of the lines between the use of company or personal devices for work—whether authorized by their companies or not. In fact, 48% of global workers say their company would not authorize employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work, but 57% say that coworkers use personal devices at work anyhow. If mobile networking raises concerns for HR, those concerns are certainly compounded by this trend.
As more and more companies rely on these mobile communications and craft their BYOD policies, these issues of flexibility security and confidentiality are topmost in everyone’s mind. 2013 will see increased effort on making mobile work both smarter and more secure.
Here are some of the top issues around mobile work that are likely to be center stage for HR in 2013:
- HR Applications – The number of mobile applications available to HR professionals is growing exponentially. In fact, this category opens up new ways to reach candidates and employees, explain and manage benefits, recognize and reward employees, track HRIS/HCM programs, and push out real time KIT (Keep in Touch) communication in a way that workers are not only willing but eager to embrace. Generally speaking, if you’re exploring software or SaaS solutions that don’t incorporate a full end-to-end mobile integration, you should be looking elsewhere.
- The Need for a BYOD Policy – Many HR departments are struggling with the need to draft and enforce policies for workers to bring their own devices—or, as the case may be, to not bring them. According to Massachusetts firm Enterasys Networks, 74% of companies allow some sort of BYOD usage, and 81% of employees use at least one device for business use. BYOD is a double-edged issue—it allows employees to use technology they are comfortable with, which can empower them and increase productivity. But it also opens a host of concern, some of which are in the next few bullet points. A policy is imperative, and it falls to HR to work with IT to create it.
- Issues around Security – The explosion in mobile networking has given many companies concerns about insecure systems vulnerable to hacking, and employees unwittingly (or even purposefully) making proprietary company info public. Mobile devices and applications used for work should have secure access and follow password best practices like a single sign-on to make sure sensitive information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
- Concerns about Life/Work Balance – Telecommuting is a boon for many workers, but it can also be detrimental as it blurs the lines between family time and work time. Many workers who telecommute find that they are digitally tethered to their work around the clock—in fact a recent study shows that telecommuters often work 5-7 more hours a week. That can be an issue for HR not only in assuring employee happiness but also in avoiding liability such as wage-and-hour claims from employees who become connected to their workplace 24/7.
- Ownership of Data—If an employee is using his own mobile device for work, on or off the official clock, who actually owns that data if the employee separates from the company? These are legal and procedural issues that must be worked out in advance and be set out in your company’s policies before they lead to trouble.
Mobile phones and devices are already fundamentally changing the way we work, and we can expect this trend to be a huge topic for HR in 2013. Mobile work will help us break new ground in how we define and conduct our business. It is a trend HR cannot afford to ignore.
More in this series of posts: