Using Mobile Apps to Manage Construction Field Workers Effectively

Mobile field service application software is key to managing an efficient field workforce. Here are some tips to track workers without driving them away. By Joanna Rotter.

Managing a staff of people can be tricky in any industry. Try keeping track of employees on shifting jobsites, many whom are paid hourly or are temporary workers. Construction project managers not only need to make sure the right workers get to the right sites at the right times, but they also need to track hours, parts used, vehicles and equipment assets.

The rise of mobile for field service and construction project management has eased the headache of managing a field workforce on various construction sites. Here’s how:

1. Get workers to the jobsite faster with more accurate scheduling. When field workers update their status through a mobile app, schedulers can filter by location, availability and skill set to dispatch workers to the jobsite faster.

2. Eliminate paper time sheets and data re-entry with mobile labor and time tracking. It’s easy to misplace paper floating around on a construction site. Not only is it hard to organize, but paperwork creates hours of data entry for the people in the back office. By using a mobile app to track worker hours, time and projects, the hassle of organizing paper files and re-entering data is eliminated.

3. See workers’ locations using GPS coordinates. Mobile application software allows managers and schedulers to see where field workers are at a given time. While it’s important not to abuse the technology to micro-manage, it’s useful to make sure technicians are at the right jobsite. Schedulers also can use GPS to guide scheduling and routing decisions.

4. Make sure workers show up with the right tools with parts management. Nothing’s more annoying (or costly) than when a mobile worker gets to the jobsite without the right parts and has to return to the office to get them. Give workers access to parts and inventory information on their mobile device so they know what they need and can update parts in the system as they use them.

5. Simplify the number of pieces to juggle with document management software. Construction projects have dozens, if not hundreds, of pieces of information to keep track of. Rather than storing that information in a binder or spreadsheet, cloud-based document management helps managers see the big picture of each job they’re in charge of. With all the project details easily accessible and organized, leaders can manage their staff more efficiently and knowledgeably.

Manage Remote Workers Effectively

In order to get the most out of a field workforce, it’s important to maintain strong relationships with workers while holding them accountable. Following are three ways to foster morale without sacrificing productivity or profitability.

1. Measure only what’s important. Rather than focusing on minute details like whether a worker’s break was five minutes too long, decide what’s most important for business growth. Then, if a worker does need discipline, demonstrate the impact his actions have on the bottom line rather than making him feel like he’s being monitored by Big Brother.

2. Keep the lines of communication open. Give workers a contact person (ideally their direct manager) and make sure that person listens to their comments and suggestions and takes them seriously.

3. Focus on deliverables, not activities. Managers cannot micro-manage mobile workers. Not only is it a bad idea, but it’s impossible when there are teams at multiple jobsites. With this in mind, rather than focus on individual actions, managers can take a step back and look at the big picture. What end goals does the staff need to achieve? Communicate and measure those goals, but let the teams determine how they’ll meet them.

Take Advantage of Powerful Construction Technology without Abusing its Power

Mobile technology for construction businesses can be a powerful tool; it’s important project managers don’t abuse it. Trust is a vital element of managing mobile workers, so avoid using technology to spy without good reason. Use mobile tools to start reaping the benefits of a more informed workforce with less busywork and more time to complete billable labor.

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