# The Rise of Mobile Working: Meeting the Demands of Today’s Workforce
In today’s fast-paced business landscape, the traditional 9-5 workplace is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Employees now expect more flexibility, whether it be in terms of working hours or location. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are facing an uphill battle to attract and retain the best talent, as they must meet these new expectations. However, it is crucial for business owners to consider the wider impact and challenges that come with this changing work environment.
## The New Normal: Evolving Attitudes towards Mobile Working
A recent study conducted with 1,850 employees from small- and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. and U.K. sheds light on the expectations surrounding mobile working. The results demonstrate just how much attitudes have evolved in recent years.
### Mobility over Money: A Shift in Priorities
The study revealed that over half of the respondents (52 percent) stated they would prefer to take a pay cut rather than being restricted to working solely from an office. What’s more, an additional 12 percent expressed a preference for flexible remote work even if they were offered a 25 percent salary increase. This shift in priorities highlights the increasing importance of freedom and flexibility in the modern workplace.
### A Happy and Productive Workforce
When given the opportunity to work remotely, 34 percent of employees reported feeling happier, while 32 percent claimed it made them enjoy their job more. As job satisfaction and work-life balance become increasingly important for employee retention, businesses need to consider the impact of remote work on their workforce. Interestingly, the study also found that the largest proportion of small business staff (38 percent) claimed to be the most productive when working from home. This challenges the notion that visibility in the office directly correlates with productivity.
## New Ways of Working: Security Challenges for SMBs
While the benefits of remote and mobile working are apparent, they also come with potential risks and challenges. Employees connecting remotely to internal systems or accessing the internet from outside the corporate firewall expose themselves and their employers to cybersecurity threats. Shockingly, only 18 percent of employees expressed concern about the cybersecurity implications of working in public spaces such as cafes or libraries. Businesses face a significant risk of data breaches or attacks if staff access sensitive information using unsecured public Wi-Fi networks or save private data on vulnerable devices.
### Bridging the Gap: Equipping Employees with the Right Tools
The responsibility of maintaining a secure work environment falls on both employees and business owners. The study revealed that 38 percent of employees do not receive the necessary technological support or expertise when working remotely or in public places. To address this issue, small business owners must provide their mobile workforce with the tools and security measures they need to conduct business safely and securely. These measures may include virtual private network (VPN) solutions for open Wi-Fi connections, anti-malware endpoint software, and cloud-based web security solutions that protect employees, regardless of their location.
## Managing the Mobile Workforce: Tips for Small Business Owners
As businesses navigate the shift towards mobile working, it is essential to approach it strategically and consider the specific needs and preferences of employees. Here are some tips for effectively managing a mobile workforce:
1. Don’t make assumptions: While mobile working may be a popular trend, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Engage with your employees to understand their work preferences and styles. This will not only make them feel valued but also provide an opportunity to discuss security risks and guidelines.
2. Educate your employees: Mobile working is often expected rather than a luxury. However, employees need to understand their role in maintaining security. Employers should educate their staff on best practices for keeping company data and IT property secure, emphasizing their responsibility to the organization’s overall security.
3. Provide the right support: Small business owners need to provide security measures and support for their mobile workers. This may include VPN solutions, anti-malware software, and cloud-based web security solutions that adapt to various locations. The internet is now the new corporate network, requiring flexible security solutions that protect employees wherever they may be.
4. Take a holistic approach: While mobile working is on the rise, not everyone may prefer or benefit from it. Some employees still value the stability of an office environment. Therefore, it is crucial to strike a balance between accommodating mobile work and providing a supportive office environment for those who prefer it. By considering the diverse needs of your workforce, you can address the demand for mobile working without compromising security or isolating certain employees.
### In Conclusion
The demands of today’s workforce have shifted towards greater flexibility and mobility. While this brings various benefits, such as increased job satisfaction and productivity, it also poses security challenges for small business owners. By adopting a strategic and holistic approach, businesses can provide the tools and support necessary for their mobile workforce to thrive while ensuring the security of their data and systems. Embracing the changing landscape of work can help SMBs attract and retain top talent, while fostering a productive and satisfied workforce in the modern business environment.