4 ways mobile will completely disrupt the workforce

People’s internet habits are changing. We’re more productive while on the go and with smartphones, tablets, laptops and wearables the ways to communicate and connect are completely revolutionizing the workplace.

There was once a time when composing a simple email on a device was seen as revolutionary, but now we’re completing many more advanced tasks and business workflows than ever before.

According to venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ (KPCB) annual Internet Trends report, published by Partner Mary Meeker, there are 2.8 billion people connected to the internet, or about 39% of the world’s population.

However, a staggering 73% of the world’s population now uses mobile technology, which means the majority of people can connect to the internet, and they aren’t limited to their desktop computers.

This global movement to mobile technology is completely changing the way we work and what we expect from our employers.

Entire companies run on mobile

Reliance on mobile technology is growing, especially among millennials and those in emerging markets. According to Kleiner Perkins’ report, millennials love their smartphones and for 87% of them, it never leaves their side.

Combining cloud technology with a built-in audience, (the same report says for 80% of millennials, the first thing they do when they wake up is reach for their phone) more apps are being built so your entire life can be run from the palm of your hand. At Xero, we’ve extended the mobile functionality in our Xero Me app so employees can apply for leave and view their pay history — all from their mobile. Managers can view and approve or decline leave requests right in the app.

Everything on-demand

Mobile technology is driving the on-demand marketplace and, in turn, opening up a new world of opportunities for the emerging on-demand workforce. We’re seeing more on-demand service platforms pop up around the world bringing you everything from your favourite doughnut, to lunch, a ride downtown, or even an on-call physician through services such as Kodu Care .

Mobile platforms are connecting on-demand workers with jobs and enabling them to supplement their incomes by side-gigging when they need to.

Flexible hours

Being able to work from almost anywhere has given rise to the flexible workplace.

Increasingly we’re seeing the old 9 to 5 traditional working hours fade away.

Instead, it’s being replaced by a looser framework where staff often integrate work into their lives, working from home or at night but maybe taking off earlier on a Friday to hit the slopes with some friends or see their kids. This level of flexibility is fuelling a new arms race between prospective employers looking to compete for talent who demand this level of freedom as a job requirement.

For businesses, however, flexi-hours and the rise of the on-demand workforce means good old fashioned employee timesheets are making a comeback. We’ve updated the feature in the Xero Me app to enable staff to enter their own hours and submit for approval. It’s a great time-saver for administrators and an easy job for staff to do on their way to work or during some down time. Approved timesheets are then passed seamlessly for payroll processing.

Small, agile teams

Mobile is enabling companies to run with smaller teams. It enables business owners or managers to scale up quickly when demand rises, by taking advantage of the increasing freelancing or on-demand workforce.

Technology is also taking a lot of the heavy lifting out of the workplace. With cloud technology, automation and open platforms, real-time data can flow through multiple systems which cuts out, or limits, the time it takes to complete many administration tasks, like bank reconciliations, for example. With less data entry work to complete, employees and small business owners have more time to work on pushing the company forward.

By having access to almost everything you need to run a business on your phone or tablet, you can also make informed decisions on the fly so you don’t miss an opportunity because you’re not sitting at your desk. Xero recently unveiled an integration with Microsoft Power BI to deliver Xero’s 600,000 users an easier way to access and analyze information from Xero and other sources to make smart, informed decisions.

Xero has also released a new split-screen multitasking feature which unlocks the real potential of mobile productivity for users running iOS9 on an iPad Air or iPad Pro. Split-screen multitasking enables iPad users to use two apps side by side at the same time, a feature previously reserved for their laptop. It means you can now view orders from your customers while creating an invoice, create an expense claim with a receipt open, or make a call to a customer with their invoice open.

Increased functionality in mobile and tablet apps is giving users more freedom, with easy access to essential tools for doing business on the move.

Mobile is changing the way we form teams and run companies, enabling people to work from anywhere, at a time that works for both employee and employer.

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