- Going off the route costs companies money.
- Going off the route impacts service quality.
- Going off the route creates reputational damage.
- The best system for field service management
- Field workers may be more prone to shirking.
- Field workers are more likely to integrate their personal life into work hours.
- Field workers may also be over-employed.
- Stay on track with an MDM
Logistics does not only involve getting company resources from point A to point B. When a company has a logistics arm, they also need to develop the practice of field service management. This applies to any kind of customer-facing logistics, whether they are service vehicles for on-site support or company cars for client visits.
Unfortunately, some organizations are immature when it comes to their field service management, employing only the most bare-bones approach to the discipline. They likely use tools optimized for other tasks, such as spreadsheets, for tracking the basic facts: who is going where, what they are doing, and how long they are supposed to take.
The lack of sophistication in field service management is rooted in naiveté: The leaders in charge of company logistics are likely unfamiliar with all the ways that field workers can abuse the company property – and time – entrusted to them. There are many common problems associated with “going off the route,” as we shall shortly detail, but they all impact companies in the same way.
Going off the route costs companies money.
When field workers are somewhere other than when they should be, the business is losing money. This includes direct costs, such as the gas of the company vehicle and the wages of the employee. This also includes indirect costs, such as the accelerated wear-and-tear on the vehicle. There is also greater risk for serious accidents the more that the employee operates outside of his designated duties.
There is thus a strong financial motivation for organizations to reign in this behavior with geofencing.
Going off the route impacts service quality.
When a field worker leaves their home or the office, there is someone waiting for them. This may be a customer, a client, or even a colleague, who is effectively also an internal client within an organization. When a field worker is off doing something else than what he is supposed to, he is delaying service delivery to these stakeholders. Late service reflects poorly on the company, and may materially affect the business. Who, after all, wants to pay for service that is not there when you need it the most?
Businesses need to get serious about their field service management because it contributes directly to their customer satisfaction.
Going off the route creates reputational damage.
In many cases, the company vehicle is branded, bearing the organization’s logo, slogan, and other brand elements. Even if the vehicle is unmarked, the field worker is likely representing the organization in some way. They may be in official uniform or wear some other identifying information, such as a company ID hanging from a lanyard around their neck. In short, both the service vehicle and the field worker are extensions of the company brand.
When either of these company resources is not where they are supposed to be, it negatively impacts the organization’s brand equity. Take the example of a company truck visible in the parking lot of a strip club in the middle of the day, or a uniformed worker publicly drinking shots at a bar. These may be extreme examples, but they underscore the point: When people are extensions of your brand, they can do significant damage to your reputation.
The best system for field service management
Field service management is not a difficult field to master. The organization does not need to invest significant resources in hiring new specialists – all that is needed is a system. The best system for field service management is any solution revolving around mobile device management (MDM), such as AirDroid Business, which can work with any Android-powered device.
Since field workers take their company-issued devices everywhere they can go, managing these devices is tantamount to managing these employees. With an MDM, businesses gain real-time insight into where all their employees are, so they can virtually eliminate these abuses associated with field work.
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Field workers may be more prone to shirking.
In an office environment, employees will try to keep pace with their colleagues when it comes to work. No one, after all, wants to be seen as slacking off. Given that field work frees employees from this social pressure, they may be more susceptible to shirking since there are no eyes on them.
These methods of shirking may be inventive and thus hard to detect manually. A field worker can take unnecessarily long routes between sites, so they can perform less actual work under the guise of traffic or road conditions. Alternatively, a field worker can idle in their company vehicle after completing a job, so they have the alibi of being on-site while not doing anything. The lack of an MDM with geofencing capability gives these disengaged workers the protection of plausible deniability.
AirDroid Business can eliminate this type of shirking. Since IT teams will have full awareness of where field workers are at any given time, they cannot waste man-hours through scenic routes. They will be able to see when workers take circuitous routes and intervene accordingly. This will optimize trips between sites and reduce gas consumption.
IT teams can also set a geofence via AirDroid Business around different areas, such as designated work sites. They can then get automatic updates when a field worker enters or exits the geofence. This feature will cut down on field workers who mill around in their car. IT teams will be able to recognize when a worker is spending excessive time at a particular site.
AirDroid Business puts guardrails in place in the real world, so field workers avoid the temptation of shirking and stay on track.
Field workers are more likely to integrate their personal life into work hours.
There is nothing unethical with the following errands: Shopping for groceries, picking up dry cleaning, or taking a pet dog to the vet. These errands do become unethical, however, when they occur on company time, when an employee is being paid to work.
In an office setting, people will use their lunch hour to do these personal errands, which is within their prerogative. When employees are field-based, they are more prone to doing these tasks during actual work hours. They may not see the harm in crafting out a small chunk of time to themselves in between site visits, but it is there: Every minute they spend on their personal life is a minute that no longer goes to serving the stakeholders they are paid to support.
Identifying employees who perform these personal tasks may be difficult. They may only perform errands near work sites for both convenience and secrecy. For example, a worker could go to a mall that is within walking distance of a client site, so he will not need to park his vehicle where it should not be.
With AirDroid Business, the IT team would recognize this movement of course, since it is based on the company-issued device rather than the company vehicle. But there may be a valid reason for going off-site. Perhaps a client asked the field worker to join him for lunch at the mall. Jumping into accusations in this case would back-fire: The field worker’s morale would lower and their productivity would fall.
Thankfully, an MDM gives organizations a means of confirming any suspicions, or just as importantly, disproving them. Because AirDroid Business gives employers full device visibility – which is a major advantage over purely location-based tracking software – they can quickly ascertain when any off-course movement is for a legitimate job purpose. A person with their phone open to a messaging screen chatting with a client about where to dine clearly has a legitimate reason. A person with their phone screen open to a search about the best video game deals available at the mall likely does not.
An MDM maintains the boundary between work hours and personal time by giving IT teams a means of accurately identifying any violations.
Field workers may also be over-employed.
When remote work became more popular during the pandemic, so, too, did over-employment. This is when a worker holds down two or more full-time jobs, and hides the fact from each employer. While most people associate over-employment with remote workers, hybrid or field-based workers may also take advantage of this trend, topping up their first job with additional out-of-the-office work.
Over-employment of field workers may be difficult to catch. Employees who over-employ themselves tend to do so in the same industry to minimize the need for additional learning. As a result, some site visits may appear legitimate in real-time, but in fact already be incidents of over-employment.
For example, perhaps a pharmaceutical brand has a med rep who travels to different clinics and hospitals to market and sell to doctors. On the surface, a pattern of trips to a particular hospital tracked on an MDM may appear innocuous. But when the business cross-references these visits with their customer relationship management (CRM), they see that no official meetings were set for those days. The truth becomes evident with further investigation: The sales rep has been brazenly repping another pharmaceutical brand, too.
An MDM can help identify these nuances because they do not just operate in real-time like some location-based tracking software. AirDroid Business, for example, has full logs and reports that enable IT teams and other company representatives to dig into any relevant data, including route activities, location history, and time spent per location. This wealth of data can uncover deeper problems like over-employment that may not be evident immediately.
Because an MDM is a repository for valuable location-related data, businesses can ensure that field workers only work for and represent their brand.
Stay on track with an MDM
Any organization that has a logistics component must also master field service management. The best way to do so is with the aid of a MDM like AirDroid Business. By using company-issued devices as a proxy for the field worker, organizations can keep better track of where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing.
This level of insight eliminates a host of problems associated with field work, such as shirking, personal errands, and even over-employment. The ultimate beneficiaries of these changes are the organization’s stakeholders, who can enjoy field workers that are timely, responsive, and efficient. For when brands excel at field service management, what they really improve at is at the heart of that term: service.