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5 Best Practices for Managing Your Mobile Workforce in the Age of COVID-19

If your business continuity plan calls for an increase in your remote workforce, your organization is likely prioritizing the enablement of employees across the globe with access to corporate networks and data remotely, securely, and efficiently. As organizations rush to support the work from home mandate amid the COVID-19 outbreak, they must be fully prepared to address the unique challenges that mobility presents.  If managed incorrectly, remote employees could end up costing organizations more money in unnecessary mobile expenditures, compliance issues and productivity loss.  To address these challenges, we’ve put together several best practices to help you successfully navigate and mitigate the potential impacts to your business during this time of uncertainty.

1. Encourage employees to always use a secure Wi-Fi connection.

Whenever possible (i.e. telecom policy, reminders, alerts, protocol sign offs, etc.), advise and work to remind employees to connect via a secure Wi-Fi network versus their cellular network\hotspot to help minimize unnecessary data charges. This may require your organization to ramp up education or protocols to determine whether a Wi-Fi network is secure before utilizing it. These standard procedures should mirror what your organization would normally roll out to a new user and should be considered rather quickly to bring any new or non-standard users up to speed.

Additionally, if your organization has access to a mobile device management (MDM) software, check that you have configured the settings to automatically shift all corporate liable (CL) devices into pre-identified secure Wi-Fi networks whenever possible. This change in your settings can significantly reduce the amount of data an individual user incurs.

2. Optimize and monitor data and voice pools to account for any potential spikes in mobile usage.

Organizations leveraging corporate liable devices as part of their mobile program strategy, on average could expect to see an upward spike of 30% in mobile usage. In many cases, this may not be evident right away, however, organizations should proactively monitor their data/voice pools to identify patterns of increased usage over time and adjust their plans accordingly to absorb additional costs.  

3. Consider the requirements for mobile policy sign off and awareness, for any new employee participants to the program. 

By now, we are all aware of the importance of having a well-defined mobile policy and security enforcement plan in place for both corporate liable (CL) and individual liable (IL) users.  However, the need to ramp employees into remote work can certainly contradict the normal protocols for communicating and obtaining user sign off on corporate policies. Individual liable devices not currently approved for corporate data utilization will be the largest risk. To help smooth the transition from the office to a work from home environment, we recommend reviewing and updating your mobile policy. As a best practice, be sure to communicate any changes to employees and have them acknowledge and sign-off on the policy.  In extreme circumstances, you may want to consider opening up restrictions that may be in place to help ease the shift to working from home.  This may include offering a temporary stipend to help cover mobile plans and lessen the financial burden on your employees.

After your organization’s quick review of the mobile policy, communicate with users in clear terms the expectations of use for their mobile devices during this time and how the organization will support their use. If available, utilize enrollment workflows within your mobile management program to validate the user’s acceptance of the mobile policy, approval of their enrollment by their manager or supervisor, enrollment in the appropriate security software, and communication regarding how to enroll and utilize organization best practices for utilization.

Additionally, organizations may need to consider adding temporary or modified verbiage appropriate for current circumstances. The COVID-19 situation has forced many organizations into new ways of operating. Therefore, it is safe to assume that your corporate telecom policy may also need to be adjusted to accommodate these changes. Even if it’s temporary, telecom management professionals should not leave those considerations off the table in order to remain fully secure and compliant.

4. Plan for new mobile device vendor fulfillment delays and backlogs.

Most device manufacturers have already released updates regarding multiple disruptions within their mobile device supply chain. With an increase in the mobile workforce, Calero and its partners are witnessing an increase in activity requesting new devices, both new from the manufacturer and from the secondary market. Many organizations will turn to the secondary market for quick device replacement options where manufacturers have inventory issues during this time.

Additionally, it’s highly likely that we will see an increase in device pricing on the secondary market. To help offset any increases, consider adjusting your mobile plan to accommodate ongoing dips in device availability from manufacturers. The impact of these changes will be on flagship devices but should be short lived if manufacturers can return to full production ahead of current forecasts. Utilizing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) during this time will eliminate your organization’s constraints on device availability to enable employees.

5. Get ahead of potential vendor delays now with a strategic plan.

It is important to build a plan or strategy in advance of potential delays across all vendors and vendor activities within your environment.  Anticipated vendor activities that experience delays could include:

  • Dispute management
  • Order turnaround status and tracking
  • Receiving invoices
  • Long wait times for customer service
  • Contract renewals and negotiation

The above examples will cause an impact in your environment’s end user experience or impact the financials. Having a good audit or managed services program in place, can help you better manage this process and mitigate risk.

While there are many other things to consider, the most important thing you can do at this time is to remain focused and prioritize the most critical items that impact your daily business.  To help ease some of the stress, you may also want to consider reaching out to a Managed Mobility Services (MMS) provider, like Calero, who can help guide you with audits and optimization, assist in monitoring and managing your mobile device users, as well as handle all aspects of mobility.