How can you start evolving work for your field force?
Digital technology means that field force work is changing for the better. Lucy Clayton, Business Thought Leadership at Virgin Media O2 Business, looks at the approaches that businesses need to follow to start the journey of evolving work for field force workers and ensuring success.
The way we work is changing. With the rise of remote working during the pandemic, digital technologies, connectivity and automation have already transformed office work. But field work has also been undergoing a revolution, although more gradually and quietly.
We published our insights paper ‘Is your field force evolving to meet current needs?’ to explore the areas where technology is changing the way your field workforce operates. And bringing benefits for both field workers and customers.
Previously, I covered the kind of drivers that are stimulating improvements in field work, as well as the opportunities for change across four key areas – productivity, operational efficiency, customer service and health and safety.
In this third and final article exploring takeaways from the report, I’m going to look at five key approaches that businesses need to take to start evolving field force work and preparing for the future.
Get the right mindset
You might roll your eyes when I describe improving field work as a journey. Yes, that’s a cliché, but it’s true. Many of the gains you can get by improving field work are incremental. Phasing out that paper form here. Enabling remote teams to talk to each other there. Allowing field workers to see data on site to make better decisions.
Having a continuous improvement mindset is key. That’s not to say there aren’t big bang innovations that can be achieved. But generally, most improvements are small. However, collectively and over time, the gains can be huge. More gradual change also ensures your field force isn’t overwhelmed.
Focus on adding value
A recurrent theme in the report is adding value. How does technology save time? How is customer service improved? How is employee experience made better? Take the opportunity of improved mobile connectivity – how could that add value to your field workforce and your customers? And if it can, what would be your priority?
Adding value is a great lens to consider improving field work and working out the right strategy and roadmap to move forward.
Take a people-centric and layered approach
One of the most interesting sections of the report explores Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a popular psychological model. It applies five levels of human need to the area of field work. At its base is network connectivity as a critical enabler of work. At the top is resonating wider ambition. It recognises the human need to grow, fulfil potential and be creative.
This framework suggests two key approaches. First, changes must be centred around people. This model puts the needs of field workers at the heart of change. Without considering people, change isn’t going to be successful.
Secondly, it shows the power of taking a layered approach. Success on the higher levels of the pyramid is dependent on success on the lower levels. This is a great tool to prioritise actions. A reminder to focus on the basics first.
Take a coordinated approach
The transformation of field work involves many moving parts. From the top to the bottom. It requires a lot of strategic coordination to optimise and maximise impact. The synchronisation of people. Processes. And technology. Then there’s also a generous helping of change management needed.
Taking a coordinated approach is utterly essential. This applies not only within your business, but across your trusted partners and suppliers too. When everybody works in harmony, changes to field work become sustainable and successful in the long run.
Look to the future
Field work will continue to change. Even more rapid connectivity. Greater adoption of AR / VR headsets. The impact of these on consumers as well as employees. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The report also references the changes we can expect from Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), drones and other exciting technologies across multiple sectors.
A key takeaway is that businesses must keep an eye on the future. Bigger changes may be on the horizon. New ideas will beckon.
Continuing to ask questions about what new technologies could do for you around specific use cases will help you focus on future opportunities. Then putting these to the test with a proof of concept will help make them happen.
To find out if your field force is evolving to meet current needs, dive into our new paper.