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Tips for Managing Mobile Devices and Remote Employees: Staying Up and Running During a Public Health Crisis

Tips for Managing Mobile Devices and Remote Employees

Like so many of you, I had great hope that the COVID-19 pandemic would be subsiding by Christmas. That we could start the new year off right knowing that our friends, families, and colleagues would be safe and healthy. However, even as hope dawns in the form of several promising vaccines, the realization that both our personal and professional lives have changed permanently is setting in.  Remote work is here to stay, and mobility is now the topic de jour at the Zoom watercooler. 

Even with the pivot to a new normal, some organizations continue to be challenged by the complexity of mobile device needs for their newly remote employees.  Many business leaders think that “going remote” is as simple as sending employees home, equipped with a laptop and a to-do list.  Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple.  Whether it’s a temporary situation, or you’ve made the decision to move to a full or partial remote workforce, here are a few steps you can implement immediately to ensure that your team is able to stay productive.

Ensure remote employees have connectivity.

  • If employees don’t have access to reliable Wi-Fi, ensure you have the right data plans in place to support alternative sources like mobile hotspots.
  • Monitor usage and automate the management of pool plans to ensure low-volume users offset high-volume users and to help avoid overage fees.
  • Remind employees to have a backup plan for connectivity issues, such as a cell phone plan that allows tethering or a backup computer or tablet. 

Get employees the equipment they need.

  • Ensure mobile workers have the right devices to perform their work, even outside the office.
  • Be ready to supply employees with equipment like laptops, tablets, external monitors, hotspots, etc. to ensure they can complete their work from their home just as effectively as they can from the office.
  • Rethink asking employees to manage tasks (e.g., spreadsheets, web-based apps, etc.) through their phone, which can hamper productivity. 

Take advantage of Managed Mobility Services (MMS) and Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solutions. 

  • Make sure your IT team can monitor devices remotely to guarantee that they’re equipped with the right security measures and updated software.
  • Utilize a MMS or UEM solution to help you track inventory globally across all devices.
  • If you have a UEM platform, make sure you have a container in your UEM through which you can deploy apps into a mobile workforce. Managing the deployment of those apps via some type of groups can control licensing costs.

Update your policies and procedures as well as your emergency plans.

  • Review your company’s policies and procedures on cybersecurity and securing individual devices.
  • Identity and include in your plans what role mobile device management software plays in your organization.
  • Create specific guidelines around remote work that detail things like:
    • Criteria and eligibility
    • Short and long-term work arrangements
    • Whether it’s 100% or partial
    • Workplace safety and privacy
    • Performance expectations
    • Wage and hour compliance
    • Schedule expectations

Bonus tip: Mobile devices need cleaning too!

Most of us don’t necessarily think to clean our mobile devices; but they can be breeding grounds for bacteria. They should be cleaned frequently to eliminate the risk associated with viruses and other germs. This will also help to protect the integrity of the device.

Remind employees that their individual actions can help keep everyone safe. Provide them with the following Apple-recommended procedures for cleaning a device. These instructions work for all mobile devices, no matter the operating system or manufacturer):

  • Unplug all external power sources, devices and cables, and turn off devices.
  • Using a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or disinfecting wipes, gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of a device, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces.
  • If a phone has a case, don’t forget to remove that from the phone and clean it as well.
  • Use only a soft, lint-free cloth. Do not use abrasive cloths, towels, paper towels, or similar items.
  • Avoid getting moisture in any openings, and don’t submerge a device in any cleaning agents.
  • Resist excessive wiping, which might cause damage.
  • Keep liquids away from the product, unless otherwise noted for specific products. Don’t spray cleaners directly onto the device.
  • Don’t use aerosol sprays, bleaches, or abrasives.

For a smooth transition, it’s critical to take a thoughtful approach to the virtual workplace that considers the perspective of the remote worker and the organization.  If you need assistance in crafting your mobile workforce strategy or need MMS solutions, contact Tangoe today.