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The State of Virtual Work

Examining mobile service in North America and the increasing role of virtual delivery

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What you’ll learn

  • How trends impacting the mobile workforce might affect your business
  • Specific statistics related to mobile workforce trends
  • Ways to improve your company's data policy practices
  • How to apply new mobile technologies to your business

Executive Summary

A lot has changed for the field service industry in the last year. On-demand services are now commonplace for all kinds of services - food, transportation, entertainment. After all, the most important asset we all have is time, so why not get some back?

The pandemic has forced everyone to rethink how work is done. Many things that no one thought could move online - did just that. Amazon made online shopping a seamless experience with same-day delivery and ease of refunds. Telemedicine allowed medical professionals to reach patients nearly anywhere. Uber opened an economy of instant mobility and delivery services. Sure, COVID-19 pushed things forward, but on-demand was already on-the-move.

Large service windows and long waits for in-person visits have run their course, and consumers are ready for a new era of convenience. Businesses that haven’t yet upgraded must now answer the all-important question: “Why not opt for a virtual first, on demand workforce?”

Why not opt for a virtual first, on demand workforce?

When we refer to the mobile workforce, we’re referring to service providers that employ individuals for field services. This encompasses construction, cable service providers, home service technicians, site workers, as well as a wide variety of commercial service providers. 

A woman in a white shirt uses ICwhatUC on her phone to fix a kitchen appliance.

Whether it's cable service, home repairs, or construction, there's always demand for on-demand.

Three major trends are impacting the mobile workforce right now:

  1. Virtual work: Video conferencing and remote work are here to stay. Mobile workers and companies have transitioned to video and smartphone technology as an alternative to physical office space, allowing businesses to offer their services for a fraction of the cost.
  2. Security and privacy: Mobile teams introduce an entirely new scope of legal ramifications for businesses and their workers. As mobile service becomes standardized, companies must honor their consumers’ expectations of who will see their data, and how it will be used.
  3. On-demand services: Consumers can now inquire about, receive, pay for, and review services from the comfort of their own homes. On-demand as an industry-spanning concept is still in its infancy, and how this trend incorporates mobile service workers is sure to shift as businesses experiment and innovate.

Office workers have access to a wide variety of software which accommodates these trends, but mobile workers often haven’t yet been provided the same convenience. That’s where we come in. At ICwhatUC, we build software specifically catered to the unique needs of the mobile workforce.

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Key Findings

In order to better understand consumer expectations, we conducted a survey of over 100 people regarding their experience with mobile service providers. The survey data is included in this report for analysis and discussion. Some key findings of the survey:

  • There are three major trends impacting the mobile workforce: virtual work, security and privacy, and on-demand service. 
  • People are adjusting to working remotely, and data suggests this will likely be a permanent shift in many industries. 
  • Improving remote work tools for mobile employees has been proven to increase productivity, happiness at work, and loyalty to a company.
  • Only 16.3% of survey respondents felt that mobile service providers offered a convenient service model, whereas 33.7% of respondents found most of them inefficient. 
  • Consumers are the most informed they’ve ever been, and it is crucial that security and privacy are at the forefront of a company’s policies and practices in order to engage with customers for the long term.
  • 92% of consumers agree that companies must be proactive in protecting their data, while only 25% think companies handle their data responsibly.
  • The on-demand economy continues to boom, and customers are accustomed to instant gratification and efficiency.
  • Customers are not only open to advancements, but ready for change. The shift in customer behaviours and expectations is what will ultimately shape the future of the mobile workforce
  • 84.6% of respondents said that they would be willing to use a new technology to resolve issues, and 79.8% agreed that they would like the option to receive on-demand service from their mobile service providers. 

Innovative technology solutions will be crucial in the development and growth of this industry.

Death, Taxes and Change….

Change is never easy, but it’s always necessary. The pressure for businesses to adopt new digital technologies has grown incredibly strong in the last year, but surprisingly, some industries have been entirely overlooked by the tech boom. This presents an opportunity for the right business leaders to lead the pack.

Field service companies tend to function on a predictable model: call for service, wait on-site during an hours-long service window for a truck roll, then sit through a 15-minute in-person visit until the work is done. This model hasn’t changed dramatically in decades, despite demand from customers to make services more convenient. One peek at the millions of views on YouTube DIY videos is enough to suggest that consumers have grown comfortable with self-service. Customers are looking for new solutions to old problems. Why shouldn’t field service companies do the same?

One peek at the millions of views on YouTube DIY videos is enough to suggest that consumers have grown comfortable with self-service.
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Our team at ICwhatUC was frustrated by the cost and inconvenience of mobile service delivery options, so we set out to change it with products that re-imagine how field service works. By collaborating with thousands of mobile workers around the world, we aim to optimize the delivery of their knowledge and work using leading edge technology.

The Shift to Virtual Work

While 2020 has been transformative for the adoption of remote work, this sort of workflow is by no means a new concept. For decades now, companies have been using technology as a way to get more done, in less time. Video conferencing was first introduced by AT&T in 1968, but the necessary machines were extremely expensive, and primarily intended for travelling businesspeople and company executives.

When Skype was founded in 2003, it opened the door to a whole new world of work capacities for organizations of all sizes. Skype’s combination of affordability, ease of use, and video quality made it a no-brainer for businesses operating out of multiple locations. Employees could now work from home if necessary, and meetings with international partners and clients could be conducted at the office rather than sending employees overseas, decreasing costs and increasing productivity.

A 2020 study of 1,500 hiring managers in the United States reported that 40% of all respondents found the “greatest perceived benefits of remote work include a lack of commute, fewer unnecessary meetings, and reduced distractions” (Brynjolfsson, et al, 2020). This study also reported that over 60% of the managers surveyed confirmed that remote work will be much more common moving forward and over 30% of companies reported over a 20% increase in the productivity of their staff. 

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What you get

  • Access to helpful information regarding the mobile workforce
  • Helpful statistics
  • Tips regarding how to improve your company's policies
  • Insights from professional articles and industry experts

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