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3 tips for managing employees in the mobile age

Because BYOD brings major changes to the workforce, it presents real management challenges.

The past year has seen the meteoric rise of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend in the workplace. Increasingly, companies are allowing employees to access the applications and information they need to do their work on personal smartphones and tablets. This offers a level of convenience for staff – but it also provides real value to the firms themselves. With BYOD, employees can do their work from virtually anywhere they have a wireless connection, and this creates greater productivity.

But because BYOD brings major changes to the workforce, it presents real management challenges. Will reward and recognition programs be as effective if employees work from remote locations more often? How will staff interact with each other in the new, mobile-centric work environment? These three tips can help you ensure that your employees make a smooth transition to BYOD.

1. Embrace social engagement
Social media platforms and mobile devices go hand-in-hand: Checking networking apps like Facebook and Twitter is one of the most common smartphone activities. But social media has something to offer businesses, too – and not just as a promotional channel. According to Diginomica, Salesforce's Social Collaboration Architect Simon Day spoke about the HR value of social tools at the recent EuroCloud UK conference.

"If you have an interface that's simple enough and recommendations that are full frontal and central, then people can involve themselves much more quickly," Day said, according to the news source.

Consider mobile-friendly social tools designed for HR purposes as a way of soliciting employee feedback.

2. Promote collaboration
By the same token, managers should be sure that BYOD brings their employees together rather than keeping them siloed in their respective mobile worlds. Many cloud-based applications are perfect for use in BYOD environments, as they can be accessed on any device with a Web connection, not just on computers logged into the on-site company network. A great number of these programs have collaboration features, so employees in remote locations can even work on the same document together. Tools like these may prove essential to maintaining staff interaction in the mobile workplace.

3. Balance flexibility and cautiousness
You're likely to find that more employees want to work from home on occasion after you implement BYOD. Yet for the benefits of remote work policies, they can create tension.

"The most common complication is when employees start comparing the flexibility you have shown to them against that which you have provided to others," Fine Tune Consulting Director Chris Griffiths wrote in a column for the Globe and Mail.

Make sure that your policies are fair and reinforce productive, at-home work in your employee reward program.

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