We’ve been glued to our phones for years, so it’s no surprise we’ve been using them more than ever since the pandemic struck. According to recent research, in-home data usage has dramatically increased as a result of remote work and school. To illustrate, here are some relevant stats:
Comparing the same weekdays year-over-year, mobile phone data usage grew by more than 50% in March 2020, according to Comscore.
39% of survey participants say they have been relying on their phones more due to social distancing measures put forth in response to the pandemic, according to Twigby.
One might’ve thought that mobile app use for work would decline because we’re no longer on-the-go. However, in spite of travel restrictions and a nearly complete shift to a WFH culture, mobile access to learning platforms remains fairly steady. As a result, it’s clear that the ability to access training materials and feedback from teams via mobile is still critical — even if commutes have gone from hours of traffic to simply walking down the stairs.
During the pandemic it has become clear — the future of work is heading toward a work-from-anywhere culture (on the road, in the office, at home, etc.), so mobile capabilities will be more important than ever. At the same time, productivity apps can enable organizations to maintain and enhance communication and collaboration anytime, anywhere.
New Challenges Force Employees to Adapt
In just a few short months, traditional work environments have been turned upside down as many workers have been instructed to stay at home for the foreseeable future. According to a recent COVID-19 WFH Survey of 800+ newly-remote employees and HR reps, most respondents (60%) preferred to work at the office prior to the pandemic. In addition, almost half of respondents (45%) were not allowed to work from home at all pre-COVID, which means a large segment of workers had a steep learning curve when WFH became part of the new normal.
Working from home can be surprisingly challenging for employees of all levels, especially if using a shared space. Because few have dedicated office spaces at home, many are setting up makeshift work stations on the dining room table, in a bedroom, or even on the back porch. To add on to this challenge, school-age children are also trying to learn from home, and, if you’re with another working adult, you may be competing for bandwidth, quiet spaces, and elbow room.
With space limited and homes crowded, remote workers are in search of other quiet areas where they won’t be interrupted or have to listen in on unrelated work or school calls. These areas may not have room for laptops, so phones and tablets are crucial for continuing to get work done away from a set location. This allows employees to stay connected while walking the dog, tidying up, or simply sitting outside when indoor space is full. This is a big part of why mobile capabilities remain so important, even though most people are continuing to stay close to home.
Mobile Access to Critical Capabilities is Paramount
Business leaders must realize that COVID-19 has altered our reliance on technology. Since March, we’ve become more dependent on apps that allow us to work and learn from home. Other stats show that mobile usage has increased during work hours, meaning that tablets and smartphones are being used in tandem with desktop computers during prime business hours. Past research has shown that many use a “second screen” while watching television, but now that second screen is also being used while working and learning.
The 2007 launch of the iPhone and the cascade of applications that followed has made it so people expect to find whatever they need, whenever they need it, on a mobile device. Someone wanting to learn a new skill can pull up the YouTube app for a tutorial. Someone else wanting to find directions to their grandparents’ house can access a host of map applications to get them where they need to be. And yet another person wanting to watch an entire season of a new show can find whatever type of content they desire by tapping into the Netflix app. However, this same access to information has not played out in the business world.
To achieve business goals in today’s evolving climate—in which both employers and employees face unprecedented pressures—old school tactics must be abandoned when it comes to getting important information out to the workforce. Legacy approaches tend to rely on platforms that were developed long before smartphones redefined how people access, participate in, and learn about the world. These outdated methods don’t allow organizations to embed learning in the daily experiences of employees, and they certainly don’t allow for employees to absorb and interact at work the way they do in their personal lives.
In a world of near-constant business disruption, it is critical for organizations to foster an unprecedented level of agility to remain competitive in the long-term. If your organization isn’t supporting mobile access to critical capabilities like learning, coaching, and development, you’re missing out on an essential opportunity to support your workforce now and in the future.
A version of this article was published on the Allego Allegories blog. You can read it here.