Are your employees working from a virtual office? Then listen up.

According to a new survey from Runzheimer International, 54 percent of companies cite effective management of remote employees  as the biggest concern for executives in managing a mobile workforce. Despite this concern, employee satisfaction (26 percent) and competitive advantage (25 percent were also ranked as the top benefits gained with a mobile workforce as well as cost savings.  The Runzheimer survey polled close to 100 executives – director-level and above – from a range of businesses across the U.S.

The survey also offers interesting contradictions that could indicate companies need to tighten management of mobile workforce programs.  For example, most survey respondents (60 percent) believe their companies are effectively managing mobile workforce programs, but do not necessarily have measurement mechanisms in place. Thirty-three percent (33 percent) of these same respondents said they have not yet implemented formal, centralized processes that can be tracked or benchmarked over time.

Other Key Survey Findings:
•    Only 27 percent of businesses report having centralized management of mobile workforce programs in one department
•    Respondents characterized the growth of their mobile workforce programs as follows:
?    Mobile device use and business travel as the fastest growing programs.
?    Virtual office, telecommuting and automobile programs/driving for work as steady/slow growth.

"The issues raised in the survey results highlight key considerations for companies as they contemplate future plans," said Greg Harper, president of Runzheimer International.  "Corporations need to look more deeply at the infrastructure supporting their mobile workforce and truly assess if perceptions match the actual processes and metrics that are in place.  The biggest opportunities for improvement can be identified by asking employees and managers what is needed as well as using industry data to compare policies and costs."

Considerations for 2011 Planning
As organizations develop their corporate strategies for the coming year, a detailed review of their mobile workforce programs should be on the agenda, including a close look at employee satisfaction, manager challenges, and cost/return-on-investment.

Opening lines of communication by asking questions related to what employees and managers like or dislike about current programs and what would increase productivity can go a long way toward increasing employee retention and promoting higher levels of customer service. Formalizing this process through an annual survey and employee reviews offers critical insight.

Third party data that offers industry benchmarks on policy, costs and staff needed to support programs can offer valuable information.  An organization may discover that the number of employees supporting a travel program is above a typical organization by 30% and steps should be taken to tighten policy and automate to reduce administration time.  A comparison of business driver direct spend might reveal a spend 20% higher than the typical benchmark, which means an organization should revisit reimbursement policy.

The need to take steps to improve mobile workforce organizational planning remain an important corporate issue in light of IDC's projection of over 1 billion virtual workers worldwide by 2011.

Consider Davinci Virtual Office Solutions your partner in managing a mobile workforce.