6 Essential Features to Enable a Mobile Workforce

Mobile workforce management requires effective operational processes to delegate workers in the field service industry successfully. Since the height of the pandemic, businesses have needed to pivot quickly to accommodate a remote workforce.
Written by
Ariel Gonzalez
Published on
February 28, 2023

Mobile workforce management requires effective operational processes to delegate workers in the field service industry successfully. Since the height of the pandemic, businesses have needed to pivot quickly to accommodate a remote workforce. However, companies with mobile workforces have already been ahead of the curve. 

The U.S. mobile worker population, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), forecasts a steady growth in a population of 78.5 million in 2020 to 93.5 million mobile workers in 2024; by the end of 2024 “mobile workers will account for nearly 60% of the total U.S. workforce.”  Such an increase means managers must select the right tools and technology to support their rapidly growing mobile workforce. Field service managers must juggle not only a geographically dispersed workforce but a mix of employees who are either full time, part time or contract. Therefore, selecting the right tool to accommodate a field manager’s team is crucial to business success. According to Skedulo, “the field service management (FSM), already a $1.78 billion category of software, is expected to grow to more than $3.5 billion by 2021.” Now in 2023, this number is expected to grow even further.

Extensible software is the foundational element that can make or break the success of a mobile workforce, since a decentralized workforce is only connected through technological touch points. The effectiveness of a mobile team is only as good as the tech connecting each team member to each other. This delicate system must be able to deliver efficiency and simplicity. 

A mobile-first strategy is necessary for any frontline mobile worker, such as a field service technician or field engineer. Mobile workforce managers must consistently deliver on four key areas to ensure a successful business: efficiency, task automation, operational visibility, and excellent customer service. For these four reasons, it is critical to equip teams with the necessary skills and tools required to carry out daily tasks.

Tech for the Frontline Mobile Workforce

Several tools exist for managers leading mobile workforces, but simple and accessible tooling is limited for those in the field. Why should this matter to a manager?

A mobile workforce demands flexibility, clear communication, and personalized information to get the job done. Frontline employee tooling should be easy to use and deliver relevant and essential information to the operations manager. Without proper tooling, managers can feel left in the dark. Without clear visibility into a field service worker’s day, productivity and output are at risk. . 

By selecting the right tools for your workforce, managers and teams can communicate effectively and efficiently with proper visibility into daily tasks.

Top Features Every Mobile Workforce Should Harness — Regardless of Industry

Mobile workforces in all industries — such as healthcare, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, construction, and management services — need to ensure they utilize the best tools available to deliver on employee productivity and customer success metrics. 

Based on Thunkable’s work with mobile workforces and mobile workforce management, we have selected the top six capabilities every field service manager should equip their employees with to maximize productivity and customer satisfaction.

1. Accessing Geolocation for Visibility

All modern mobile devices possess geolocation capabilities. This feature helps users get their specific location and can be used for mapping, location, tagging, and more. Think of what can be unleashed if you could harness this capability with a constantly on-the-go workforce.

What Does It Do?

Tapping into the geolocation capabilities of a device will allow field managers to track the movement of workers, shipments, or materials in real-time, better. But it doesn’t just stop there. Location reporting can even extend to the customer viewing side, so customers can see where their technician for internet repairs or the status of their delivery. Instant updates of locations can help improve not only customer service but performance efficiency as well.

Why Does It Matter?

Tapping into a device’s geolocation capabilities gives users across the entire communication chain greater visibility. And visibility leads to better communications, relationships, and experiences. 

Whether you are developing this internally with a team of coders or utilizing no code mobile app tooling, ensure you can tap into the device’s native capabilities. This will allow you to access the device’s already existing geolocation services.

2. Utilizing Scanning in the Field

Field service and remote workers require the same capabilities and resources as a traditional office, and it is the manager's job to provide the required resources as workplaces become more decentralized. 

What Does It Do?

Scanning capabilities via the device’s cameras allow field service workers to take traditional scanning capabilities into the field to make things more efficient. For example, image capture or barcode scanning are two powerful features that we see a majority of mobile workforces utilize when they are working with supply chain management, contracts, or legal documents. With the  snap of a picture, a technician or construction worker can order additional parts needed to complete a project or have their paperwork digitized and filed instantly.

Why Does It Matter?

Field workforces are often on the go, and minimizing the physical paperwork needed on hand will enhance productivity. In an instant, order forms, contracts, or delivery slips  can be digitized and added to the centralized source of truth, like a CRM or database. Additionally, any human errors are significantly diminished with the utilization of the camera on a device. Turning a mobile device into a barcode scanner or image-capture tracker is immensely helpful for production cycles, tracking delivery networks, inventory management, and much more.

3. Device Sensors

Most mobile devices contain built-in sensors that collect and register data based on motion, orientation, and environmental conditions. An accelerometer can also monitor three-dimensional device movement or positioning. 

What Does It Do?

A mobile application can access the sensor detections on a mobile device in three ways:

  • Motion: This type of sensor can detect acceleration or rotational forces. Think of app games that require you to tilt, shake, or rotate your phone to achieve an outcome. Motion sensors include gravity, rotational vectors, gyroscopes, and accelerometers.
  • Position: Measurement of the physical positioning of the device can be done with magnetometers within the phone. 
  • Environmental: This type of sensor can tap into thermometers, barometers, and can measure things such as temperature, pressure, humidity, and illumination.

Why Does It Matter?

Sensors are important to capture environmental surroundings. For transportation and logistics, passively capturing the temperature at the drop point of delivery will ensure the cargo doesn’t fall out of spec. Or sensors can be used to capture numerous factors about a worksite. This information can all be collected with the click of the button.  

4. Push Notifications

Receiving alerts instantly is a valuable feature field service workers leverage to ensure accurate and timely information is communicated between in-office management and field service workers. Push notifications can help deliver this.

What Does It Do?

Push notifications deliver timely and instant alerts. Think of your favorite social media app alerting you when you get a message or your favorite food delivery service letting you know when your food is on the way. Well, such notifications can help field service workers know when a customer has canceled or rescheduled their appointment, receive an alert when contract updates have been made, and so much more.

Why Does It Matter?

For specific industries, instant notifications are crucial to servicing customers, think of mobile workforce scheduling software. Alerting the field worker to a change in work schedule or an added requirement helps keep them as efficient as possible. When it comes to personalization and timeliness of information, push notifications can deliver exactly the right information at the right time outside the workforce app experience.   

Integrating Your Tech Stack with APIs

Adding another tool to your tech stack can vary in complexity, depending on its integration capabilities. For example, no code and low code workforce tools app is fantastic for speeding up development timelines, but that can quickly be overshadowed if that particular no code or low code tool cannot communicate with your already existing tech stack. Any new tool shouldn’t operate in a silo. 

What Does It Do?

Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow two software components to communicate and retrieve data from each other.

Why Does It Matter?

By utilizing APIs, you can connect to the tools you already use and link field service workers to technical documents, customer history, and much more. All this can be accessed from a mobile device. To ensure data consistency, from the back office to frontlines employees, all systems should be seamlessly integrated. On top of that, that information should be personalized for each user.  

6. Offline Capabilities for Teams on the Go

A capability often overlooked by mobile workforces is offline capabilities. When a device is unable to connect to cellular or wifi connection, native apps have the ability to still operate and will store the data locally on the device before transmitting it once it connects to the signal again. 

What Does It Do?

Providing a mobile workforce with the ability to complete assignments in the field and sync their contracts, notes, or customer history once back online makes field work more efficient.

Why Does It Matter?

A real-life example on the impact of offline capabilities comes from a global Balsa wood supplier, grower, distributor, and manufacturer called Asuzac. Azuzac faced a bottleneck in their operations due to its manual pen-and-paper methods. Field reps measured and calculated harvest-ready trees in the middle of the Papua New Guinea forest, and their work was verified by back-office staff. To improve operations, Asuzac built a mobile app to perform custom calculations on the go, completely offline. Fully native mobile apps should have the ability to perform while offline.  

Ready to Bring Your Work Anywhere?

Not only is adopting a mobile-first strategy for a mobile workforce a must, but understanding the most crucial features needed to enable workers on the frontline successfully is key to success. By equipping your mobile workforce with the tools they need, your team can focus on the work they were hired to do. Better still? They’ll feel satisfied about getting their work done without the delays of manual and repetitive work.

Our no code mobile app development platform helps you bring your operational processes to a workforce mobile app. No matter the size of your business, your employees need access to the right information in the palms of their hands. 

Interested in learning how to build mobile workforce management solutions for your needs? Book a 15-minute assessment with us to effectively mobilize your workforce.

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Written by
Ariel Gonzalez

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