From The Editor | May 15, 2016

Can Field Mobility Backfire And Decrease Productivity?

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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Sarah Nicastro

I read an interesting article recently on Field Service Digital titled “Tune Out the Technological Distraction Factory.” The piece was written by Donald B. Stephens, a 30-year senior customer service engineer with the Xerox Corp. What the article is referring to is the fact that while field mobility solutions are deployed with the purpose of increasing productivity, there are reasons why they can have the opposite effect. The biggest reason is the concept of constant connectivity — and therefore constant interruption. When a tech is working hard to fix an issue at a customer site, and his device is going off nonstop with emails coming in, texts or calls looking for status updates, and so on, the intended goal of improving productivity can actually be sabotaged.

If I relate this to my own life, it makes perfect sense. I always have my smartphone with me — always. And every time it vibrates, I’m checking it to see what’s going on. I think most of us are that way today, and it can be a problem in more than one way. It can be an especially troublesome problem if that constant connectivity is distracting your field workers from performing their jobs as efficiently as possible.

How To Help Minimize Technology Distractions
So what are you to do? Well, Stephens makes a few recommendations in his article. First, he mentions that it’s up to you to set the appropriate priorities. He suggests allowing your techs the time to focus. If you expect them to immediately respond to every email, text, or call, they have no choice but to pay constant attention to their devices, even while they are working on a job. If you allow them the time to focus on the job they’re doing, and they know that it’s OK to not be responding, then they can compartmentalize much better.

Stephens also points out that it can be beneficial — when possible — to have someone other than techs handling prescreening responsibilities (meaning, calling customers to give them an ETA on when to expect the service tech to arrive). This eliminates a task techs need to do at the job prior so they can focus on getting that work done. He also suggests setting specific time periods during the day for techs to dedicate to checking and responding to email and messages.

This article brings up a very good point, one that bears consideration. While the benefits of field mobility can be huge, there are certain issues that must be managed in order for those benefits to be fully realized.