Managing a mobile workforce

Having a mobile workforce can do wonders for productivity, Canon Middle East’s HR Director Veronica Juul-Nyholm shares her insights.



How have cloud and mobile changed the way you work?

A: This technology has allowed us to increase our flexibility, mobility and access to documents and data. We have put in place new policies that let us make use of this new technology to gain more freedom in where and when we perform our job.

This means not only that there’s no need to stay in one place while working. There’s also no strict need to work from, for example, 8am to 5pm. Your work is virtually on 24/7 if you want it to be and we have more choice over where and when we work.

Q: What are the benefits of having mobile employees?

A: The most important prerequisite of an efficient and well-functioning mobile team is that you need to have a relationship with your employees that is based on trust and empowerment. The big benefit is that you can always ensure team communication is open, you can talk with them any time, and share things as they happen. We no longer depend on when and where, but more on how we structure, prioritise and organise ourselves.

And we are more dependent than ever on that trust-based team relationship because there is a high expectation from both staff and customers that things are done quickly and responsively. Digitisation plays a big role in enabling this. We have introduced solutions like mobile expense claims and online travel booking, and everybody gets a mobile phone and laptop.

In our regional office, we’ve implemented agile working where people are no longer tied to a specific desk. Instead, we provide lockers where people can store personal items, and we have a clean desk policy at the end of every day. The office has lots of areas where people can collaborate, and silent rooms if you need to focus or hold meetings with customers. All this is now possible because everybody has access to mobile technology when they need it.


How do you balance trust with privacy and security?

A: We’ve put as much of our systems as possible on the cloud so that there’s always a way to access documents and communicate with colleagues. But we’re also quite strict with security and controls. You are allowed to use your own device, but it has to be set up by the ICT department and follow certain processes. The relationship you have with your employees is also important in mitigating the risks, and ensuring security policies are followed.

Q: How do you ensure remote workers feel integral to the team?

A: We don’t have rules around how many hours employees have to be in the office, but the induction and onboarding of remote workers are always done face-to-face. So we build that relationship early. And there’s a very frequent connection and communication on a daily basis with colleagues no matter where you are.

Employees have the option to work from home, but it doesn’t happen that often because of the nature of people’s work. Especially for the B2B organisation where strong relationships with customers and colleagues are so critical.


How do you ensure employees maintain healthy work/life balance?

A: We don’t have any policies saying you have to switch devices on or off, but part of the empowerment and responsibility of our employees is letting them work according to their individual character and preferences. You may prefer to prioritise your evening for family and friends, or you may prefer to work in the evening, or early in the morning. We give that flexibility.

But we also strive to be a responsible employer, so staff are supported when it comes to ensuring their family and personal needs are met. If they show signs of burnout, we’ll intervene. But considering people are using their mobile devices throughout the day anyway, a switch-off policy probably wouldn’t make much sense. It all comes down to individual preferences and work styles.

Related solutions

Explore further

Find out how to kickstart your business transformation journey with Canon