Four ways mobile will completely disrupt the workforce

By Angus Norton, Chief Product Officer at Xero.

People’s internet habits are changing. We’re more productive while on the go and with smartphones, tablets, laptops and wearables the ways to communicate and connect are completely revolutionising the workplace.

There was once a time when composing a simple email on a device was seen as revolutionary, but now we’re completing many more advanced tasks and business workflows than ever before.

According to venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ (KPCB) annual Internet Trends report, published by Partner Mary Meeker, there are 2.8 billion people connected to the internet, or about 39% of the world’s population.

However, a staggering 73% of the world’s population now uses mobile technology, which means the majority of people can connect to the internet, and they aren’t limited to their desktop computers.

This global movement to mobile technology is completely changing the way we work and what we expect from our employers.

1. Entire companies run on mobile
Reliance on mobile technology is growing, especially among millennials and those in emerging markets. According to Kleiner Perkins’ report, millennials love their smartphones and for 87% of them, it never leaves their side.

Combining cloud technology with a built-in audience, (the same report says for 80% of millennials, the first thing they do when they wake up is reach for their phone) more apps are being built so your entire life can be run from the palm of your hand.

2. Everything on-demand
Mobile technology is driving the on-demand marketplace and, in turn, opening up a new world of opportunities for the emerging on-demand workforce. We’re seeing more on-demand service platforms pop up around the world bringing you everything from your favourite doughnut, to lunch, a taxi ride, or even an on-call physician through services such as Kodu Care.

Mobile platforms are connecting on-demand workers with jobs and enabling them to supplement their incomes by side-gigging when they need to.

3. Flexible hours
Being able to work from almost anywhere has given rise to the flexible workplace. Increasingly we’re seeing the old 9 to 5 traditional working hours fade away.

Instead, it’s being replaced by a looser framework where staff often integrate work into their lives, working from home or at night but maybe taking off earlier on a Friday to hit the slopes with some friends or see their kids. This level of flexibility is fuelling a new arms race between prospective employers looking to compete for talent who demand this level of freedom as a job requirement.
For businesses, however, flexi-hours and the rise of the on-demand workforce means good old fashioned employee timesheets are making a comeback. We’ve updated the feature in the Xero Me app to enable staff to enter their own hours and submit for approval. It’s a great time-saver for administrators and an easy job for staff to do on their way to work or during some down time. Approved timesheets are then passed seamlessly for payroll processing.

4. Small, agile teams
Mobile is enabling companies to run with smaller teams. It enables business owners or managers to scale up quickly when demand rises, by taking advantage of the increasing freelancing or on-demand workforce.

Technology is also taking a lot of the heavy lifting out of the workplace. With cloud technology, automation and open platforms, real-time data can flow through multiple systems which cuts out, or limits, the time it takes to complete many administration tasks, like bank reconciliations, for example. With less data entry work to complete, employees and small business owners have more time to work on pushing the company forward.

By having access to almost everything you need to run a business on your phone or tablet, you can also make informed decisions on the fly so you don’t miss an opportunity because you’re not sitting at your desk.

Mobile is changing the way we form teams and run companies, enabling people to work from anywhere, at a time that works for both employee and employer.
Angus Norton is Chief Product Officer at Xero.
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