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HR and the Legal Ramifications of a Mobile Workforce

The world is on the move. And, working from multiple locations. Today’s mobile workforce answers emails during dinner, writes reports on airplanes, and participates in conference calls in cars. A growing number of workers prefer flexible hours over the 9-to-5 grind. In fact, a recent study inside a Fortune 500 company found that employees offered flextime were happier at work and less prone to psychological stress than their colleagues working a more traditional schedule. However, here’s a concern: Flextime policies can create legal challenges for HR pros. This is why smart HR departments are developing intelligent policies and combining those with technology, paving the way toward more mobile, more productive, and increasingly secure organizations.

Employees Working in Vehicles Could Pose Legal Risks

Most of us already check work email, and answer business-related texts. Many employees also join conference calls from their cars. Ideally, workers use hands-free calling and refrain from texting while driving. But even hands-free devices can cause cognitive distraction, a lack of mental focus. And if one of your employees gets into an accident while focused on work—even using hands-free technology—your business could be held liable. This form of distracted driving will probably become even more prevalent as auto manufacturers begin equipping vehicle infotainment systems with the Microsoft Office 365 suite, which automatically enables voice-activated email and other functions. To be proactive, your HR department should write and enforce strict policies that prohibit employees from using smartphones and mobile assistants for anything other than navigation while driving.

Mobile Networks Create Potential Security Threats

A growing number of organizations, especially those subject to federal regulations like HIPAA or PCI DSS prohibit their employees from using public networks to access protected information. But people forget. They can get lazy. And, then there are the non-digital security issues. When anyone works in public—away from the office—security threats are everywhere, not only in the digital environment. A stranger could view confidential information by looking over an employee’s shoulder on a crowded flight. Or, a competitor could eavesdrop on a conference call in a hotel lobby.

Workers who travel, or work outside the office, should be mandated to use password-protected internet access, and tools like privacy filters which prevent others from viewing their laptop, tablet or smartphone screen. Additionally, enforcing strong policies, and educating your employees about their roles in maintaining security can help protect against these threats.

BYOD Policies Could Cause Compliance Issues

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement is growing in popularity and acceptance. BYOD can save companies money and offer convenience to employees. But it’s really important that your HR and IT departments work together to develop BYOD policies and procedures, that track software and devices in use and mandate anti-virus and security software on BYOD devices and establish guidelines for network use and access to sensitive data. Also, you need to make sure all devices used for work are equipped with locking technology (via a password, pin code, or thumbprint) and the ability to remotely track, disable, and wipe a lost or stolen device, especially if your business is responsible for maintaining HIPAA or PCI DSS compliance.

Flextime Makes It Harder to Track Employee Hours, Including Overtime

With access to documents via the cloud and to work email via smartphone, today’s employees have many opportunities to attend to work matters after hours. This “always-on” mentality may increase productivity, but guess who’s responsible for tracking that time? You’re right. HR Departments.

Salaried employees making less than $47,476 per year must be paid overtime for working more than 40 hours per week. So, if you don’t want to pay overtime for remote work that takes place after hours, you need to set clear policies. Your HR team may need to encourage managers not to send emails after hours because employees may feel compelled to reply. If such after-hours work is a must, your HR team should deploy time-tracking apps (and make sure to include salaried employees, too). Be proactive. Get started today. By working with your IT and legal departments, you can ensure your organization is in compliance with privacy regulations as well as payroll and legal issues introduced by an increasingly mobile workforce. Is your HR team ready?

A version of this was first posted on Huffingtonpost.com

5 Keys To Managing A Mobile Workforce

Despite worldwide turmoil, growth is still very much happening on the global front. Companies are expanding into new regions and deepening their presence in existing ones. The challenge is building a workforce rapidly and effectively. It’s never been that simple, but moving your talent where it’s needed the most adds far more complexity — and we’re in an era when competition for talent and skills is at its peak.

Add that all up and you’ve got a renewed mandate to focus on mobility as part of your talent strategy. Whether overseas or intra-national, the companies that mandate that mobility is part of their HR strategy are going to see the results . They’ll see the most growth, performance, succession and leadership development and — critically — retention. You might call it putting your money where the mobility is.

Five Keys To Consider:

Make it future-focused: An organization’s talent strategy should focus well into the future. Depending on what it does, are there plans to expand? Are there international markets to expand into? The failsafe should be to assume yes: You will need to move a workforce. It will likely involve an international assignment. Among those on the rise: the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as well as the UAE and Qatar. All are clearly hot spots for talent, and the trend is projected to not only continue but increase by another 50% by 2020. 

Develop a local successor chain. What enables an organization to succeed in new locations isn’t just a matter of shipping a select group to the new office and putting them to work. According to a survey report from EY/ Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, the top benefit of having a global mobility strategy in place was being able to develop local successors — 55% of top performing companies who responded noted that. Also note that global mobility strategies had a clear positive impact on retaining talent, growing new business, and also financial performance for 65% of the companies surveyed.

Cover the bases. Retention is a sharper issue still when factors include relocation. The challenge is not just to reallocate the workforce where you need it, but keep them happy as well. A drain of talent, particularly before contracts are up, could be devastating. Cover logistics and legalities (there may be different labor laws and regulations). Provide dedicated support: with visas; with finding safe, secure and comfortable housing and family support; with the host country’s customs, cultural differences and etiquette. There’s also the issue of the organizational culture, which may be different overseas, given the workforce. Enable everyone to embrace it, and (here’s a concept) make mobility and globalism part of its fabric.

Concentrate on the willing, ready and able. Not all are going to be willing or able to move overseas or travel frequently as they spearhead international efforts. Price Waterhouse Coopers research of millennials found that 38% were interested in pursuing career opportunities with the firm overseas. But another PWC study found that 70% of millennials wanted or expected that they would take an overseas assignment at some point in their careers. 

Make sure the door is open when they come back. Re-entry after an overseas assignment can be rocky to say the least. According to a survey by Brookfield Global Relocation, 38% of returnees quit within 12 months — and that figure hadn’t changed for three decades as of 2010. Your employee now has international experience and may well have outgrown their previous title, and the organization’s own expectations may not align with this increase in experience. Well before they are due back, start working towards facilitating not only their return, but retention. Capitalize on their professional growth with an appropriate position, or you may lose them to a firm who better recognizes their value.

The 24/7, hyper-connected and endlessly networked culture of the new workplace dovetails with the profound expansion into a global economy, which means that streams of talent are going to be moving back and forth as needed. In this situation, there’s one irrefutable bottom line: Yes, this is about mobilizing talent. But it’s also about altering the course and root of people’s lives. We’re all working to increase employee engagement and retention. It’s likely best to remember that.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

#WorkTrends Recap: Mobility: The Changing Workforce

The business economy is strong and companies are experiencing rapid growth as a result. That often means expansion into new regions and the need to develop a current workforce to fit those needs, as well as the need to recruit additional talent. These things are made more challenging by the fact that competition for skills today is at its highest. And that’s where technology in general, and mobility in particular, comes in. Companies who focus on mobility as part of their talent strategies are positioning themselves to see the most growth, performance, leadership development, talent acquisition, and talent retention.

On this week’s #WorkTrends show, we talked to Peggy Smith, CEO of Worldwide ERC, the premier global professional membership association for workforce mobility. Peggy discussed how mobility is changing our workforce.

Here are a few key points Peggy shared:

  • Millennials are productive disrupters who are improving the workforce.
  • We live in a customized world and need to deliver customized experiences in the workforce and beyond.
  • People are having global experiences more often today and at younger ages than ever before—understanding that, and adapting it into your culture and operations are keys to success.

You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here.

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Missed this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). Next Wednesday, June 1, we will be joined by the founder of Nimble at Work, Roger Panetta, to discuss how to elicit great performance from your employees.

The TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following the #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members; or check out our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

Photo Credit: Plantronics PR via Compfight cc

#WorkTrends Preview: Mobility: The Changing Workforce

Growth is happening on the global front at a dizzying pace, even in the current economy. Companies are expanding into or within regions where they need to build their workforce quickly and efficiently. Often, that means moving talent to the place it’s most needed, and this must happen at a time when competition for skills is highest. Companies that focus on mobility as part of their talent strategy will see the most growth, performance, leadership development and retention.

On next week’s #WorkTrends show we are excited to talk to Peggy Smith, CEO of Worldwide ERC, the premier global professional membership association for workforce mobility. Peggy is going to discuss how mobility is changing our workforce.

We also look forward to discussing:

  • How to build a comprehensive, future-focused talent strategy
  • The changing needs of employees with GenZ and Millennials poised for breakout influence and leadership
  • New iterations of communication, technology and tools
  • Offering employees choices, including customization, global experiences, and dynamic career path possibilities

Mobility: The Changing Workforce

#WorkTrends Logo Design

Tune in to our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, May 25 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #WorkTrends Host Meghan M Biro and guest Peggy Smith as they discuss mobility and it’s affect on our workplace.

#WorkTrends on Twitter — Wednesday, May 25 — 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: How has mobility changed the face and pace of the workforce? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Q2: What are the positive effects of a talent mobility strategy? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Q3: How can mobility open up dynamic career paths? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. We invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community, LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. Feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!

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Telecommuting Tools: What's Your Plan?

Virtual teams are truly gaining ground in today’s workplace, thanks to the convergence of three factors:

1) More employers recognize the value of flexible work models,
2) Workers are open to remote options, and
3) New cloud-based technologies make it easy to connect, communicate and collaborate.

Many employers now allow members of their workforce to operate entirely from home — while other companies support more limited forms of telecommuting.

Telework = Serious Savings

There are compelling business reasons why organizations and individuals should evaluate this trend. According to research compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, 50 million U.S. employees have jobs that are compatible with telecommuting, and are willing to pursue it at some level. It’s estimated that, each year, if all those who are able and willing worked from home even half of the time, a typical employer would save $11,000 per person, while the typical telecommuter would save $2,000-$7,000.

But regardless of how much money telecommuting can save, one thing is certain — it’s essential to invest in viable technology to ensure that remote workers can succeed in their role.

110727_GIST_The_Mobile_Worker4

See the infographic and more details at Mashable

3 Keys to a Telework Technology Plan

Before assuming which tools are ideal, it’s wise to look for helpful insights from workstyle studies. For example, a 2011 study by GIST profiles remote work behavior across multiple dimensions — identifying locations remote workers prefer, and revealing how they accomplish tasks on the go.

Of course, every business is unique, but when you develop a detailed technology plan for virtual workers, it’s essential to consider three key elements: communication, collaboration and connections. Here are some ideas to kick-start your process:

Communication: There are many technologies remote workers can use to stay in touch with team members, managers, customers, and others. Email probably remains the most common communication channel, but text messaging, chat, and instant messaging are also useful when people need to discuss projects, status and other issues in real-time. The good news is that many of those tools work in tandem or on top of popular workplace communications applications.

Skype and similar audio and video conferencing tools are highly affordable, reliable and are easy to deploy and support. They’re ideal for everything from small group meetings and business presentations, to more formal conference-like events. Google+ Communities and Hangouts are also gaining popularity as simple, freely available tools to help groups connect and discuss topics and projects via audio and video, with file sharing and social tools that enhance and extend those discussions.

Collaboration: Remote workers need tools that help them work together with others to generate ideas, solve problems and manage group projects. Google Docs is a great way to co-create content and share information among team members on an ongoing basis. Also, Dropbox and other cloud storage services are popular for exchanging, organizing and archiving content (especially larger files), and for easily accessing content while on the go.

Connections: With today’s vast array of freely available social media and cloud software solutions, keeping your workforce securely and reliably connected is becoming remarkably easy to do. Intranets provide dedicated virtual spaces that help distributed teams work together asynchronously, using embedded social tools to interact. And integrated suites of cloud-based tools like Google Apps for Business help workers easily create, share and manage all kinds of business documents and communications. To learn more about Google Apps for Business, watch this video overview:

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Whether you tap into new web-based tools, or you extend applications that your company already uses in-house, a technology plan is one way to be sure that all your remote contributors stay focused and productive, no matter where or when they’re working. The pace of cloud software innovation is so rapid, your biggest challenge may be staying ahead of new technology developments. However, your efforts should pay off, with telecommuters that are highly efficient and engaged in their jobs.

Your Turn

Does your company encourage telework arrangements? What tech-related issues do your remote teams face? What tools do you recommend to others?

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at weekly events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Telecommuting Tools: What’s Your Plan?

Virtual teams are truly gaining ground in today’s workplace, thanks to the convergence of three factors:

1) More employers recognize the value of flexible work models,
2) Workers are open to remote options, and
3) New cloud-based technologies make it easy to connect, communicate and collaborate.

Many employers now allow members of their workforce to operate entirely from home — while other companies support more limited forms of telecommuting.

Telework = Serious Savings

There are compelling business reasons why organizations and individuals should evaluate this trend. According to research compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, 50 million U.S. employees have jobs that are compatible with telecommuting, and are willing to pursue it at some level. It’s estimated that, each year, if all those who are able and willing worked from home even half of the time, a typical employer would save $11,000 per person, while the typical telecommuter would save $2,000-$7,000.

But regardless of how much money telecommuting can save, one thing is certain — it’s essential to invest in viable technology to ensure that remote workers can succeed in their role.

110727_GIST_The_Mobile_Worker4

See the infographic and more details at Mashable

3 Keys to a Telework Technology Plan

Before assuming which tools are ideal, it’s wise to look for helpful insights from workstyle studies. For example, a 2011 study by GIST profiles remote work behavior across multiple dimensions — identifying locations remote workers prefer, and revealing how they accomplish tasks on the go.

Of course, every business is unique, but when you develop a detailed technology plan for virtual workers, it’s essential to consider three key elements: communication, collaboration and connections. Here are some ideas to kick-start your process:

Communication: There are many technologies remote workers can use to stay in touch with team members, managers, customers, and others. Email probably remains the most common communication channel, but text messaging, chat, and instant messaging are also useful when people need to discuss projects, status and other issues in real-time. The good news is that many of those tools work in tandem or on top of popular workplace communications applications.

Skype and similar audio and video conferencing tools are highly affordable, reliable and are easy to deploy and support. They’re ideal for everything from small group meetings and business presentations, to more formal conference-like events. Google+ Communities and Hangouts are also gaining popularity as simple, freely available tools to help groups connect and discuss topics and projects via audio and video, with file sharing and social tools that enhance and extend those discussions.

Collaboration: Remote workers need tools that help them work together with others to generate ideas, solve problems and manage group projects. Google Docs is a great way to co-create content and share information among team members on an ongoing basis. Also, Dropbox and other cloud storage services are popular for exchanging, organizing and archiving content (especially larger files), and for easily accessing content while on the go.

Connections: With today’s vast array of freely available social media and cloud software solutions, keeping your workforce securely and reliably connected is becoming remarkably easy to do. Intranets provide dedicated virtual spaces that help distributed teams work together asynchronously, using embedded social tools to interact. And integrated suites of cloud-based tools like Google Apps for Business help workers easily create, share and manage all kinds of business documents and communications. To learn more about Google Apps for Business, watch this video overview:

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Whether you tap into new web-based tools, or you extend applications that your company already uses in-house, a technology plan is one way to be sure that all your remote contributors stay focused and productive, no matter where or when they’re working. The pace of cloud software innovation is so rapid, your biggest challenge may be staying ahead of new technology developments. However, your efforts should pay off, with telecommuters that are highly efficient and engaged in their jobs.

Your Turn

Does your company encourage telework arrangements? What tech-related issues do your remote teams face? What tools do you recommend to others?

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at weekly events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Another Kind Of Revolution: Social, Mobile, Cloud

“You say you want a revolution? Well you know, we all want to change the world.” –John Lennon

It’s deja vu on a grand scale — like the Beatles are arriving in America all over again. A huge culture shift is upon us, and the winds of change are blowing in ways that are simultaneously unsettling and exhilarating.

“Boomers” are transitioning out of their careers, and the leadership reigns are slowly-but-surely being handed to Millennials at start-ups, small businesses and enterprises everywhere. Much like when John, Paul, George and Ringo touched down in New York in 1964, at first there was some resistance, but eventually the new guard convinced skeptics and changed minds. In the 60’s, revolution was expressed through music and social change — while today, next-generation leaders are driving disruptive change in technology and business.

New Agents of Change

Cloud computing, mobile devices, “big data” and social media are now prominent fixtures across the business landscape. From solopreneurs to the global enterprise, companies are more connected than ever with their customers, employees, shareholders and stakeholders.

Enabled by connectivity and powered by the cloud, this is more than just “Marketecture,” this is the engine of our business future. Millennial leaders are strongly committed to embracing these technologies and putting them to use in a way that drives their organizations forward, leaning on cloud applications to keep employees connected with anyone, anywhere, anytime. This allows business to continue 24×7×365 if needed, yet provides employees ultimate flexibility to untether from their desks and remain productive.

I don’t see anything wrong with that, do you?

And then there is social media. This phenomenon isn’t just about tweeting #hashtags on Twitter and posting  “likes” on Facebook. Social media offers a whole new way for humans to engage and extend our communities through the most powerful business-building infrastructure in the world — the Internet.

Thanks to social powers, the timeline for building a global business has compressed from decades to days, because word can spread and new markets can be created at a such a dramatically accelerated pace. New ventures everywhere can instantly reach out to potential partners and target markets to ask questions and find solutions for the most simple and complex business problems.

Building the Future, Differently

When the Beatles came to America, they permanently redefined rock and roll. Adding their collective influence to the voices of their time, they made music better for all of us who followed. And today, through social synergy, Millennial leaders seek to do the same for business.

Leaning on the best ideas and innovations that have previously defined success across industries, the CEOs of the future are not content to settle for the status quo. The goals of next-generation leaders may be similar to those before us in some ways, but they are different enough, so our mark will be felt.

We will leverage breakthrough cloud and big data resources to develop businesses that are inherently social, and we’ll create cultures that thrive on collaboration. Like leaders throughout history, our goal is to solve business problems effectively, but we’ll approach those problems very differently. Building a smarter planet through technology is exactly what the Millennial CEO of the future is destined to do.

What role do you think technology plays in next-generation business success? What must Millennial leaders do to succeed in a hyper-connected marketplace? Share your ideas in the comments area.

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from the Building a Smarter Planet Blog, with permission.)

Image Credit: Wikimedia Public Domain image archives