How has the business mobile landscape changed post-COVID and what should you consider when you next renew the company’s mobile plan?
In March 2020, the way we worked changed overnight. Businesses reacted admirably to enable their workforces in the face of remote working and other logistical challenges, but almost unnoticed underneath this noise was the way our business mobile habits changed.
Plans built around frequent flying, overseas travel and roaming charges no longer served businesses in the best way. Locked down and logged on, teams were operating very differently, and many features that in ordinary times were must-haves when setting up or renewing the business mobile plan became redundant, driving disruption and costs.
Now, with lockdown restrictions lifted in certain countries and travel re-opening, the way we use our mobiles for work is changing again. But not all is as it once was. For this article, we caught up with Opus’ Mobile Sales Director Juliette Lee to find out how the business mobile landscape has shifted, and how your company could be impacted.
A landscape shaped by hybrid working
Remote working was a defining impact of the global pandemic. Since then, many businesses have rolled out, or are considering, hybrid working models. We’ve written all about hybrid working in the past, its drivers, and how it’s shaping the way businesses communicate, collaborate, and thrive.
Inevitably, hybrid working is also reshaping the business mobile landscape. “The need for reliable connectivity grows when employees are away from their desks,” Juliette explains.
“Public Wi-Fis can be unreliable at best. At worst, they can be security issues, while personal broadbands can drop out or struggle to meet the demands of a busy household working from home.” Employees between house moves will also benefit from good mobile connectivity providing access to critical devices, wherever they are.
“There are a number of really good unlimited packages available on the market right now offering 5G data speeds,” Juliette reveals. “For larger businesses with greater demands and bigger budgets, multi-network SIMS are a strong investment, guaranteeing connectivity wherever there’s a mobile signal. We’ve set up customers with all of these.”
Video calls, and the human behaviours driving change
Whenever we talk about the landscape shifting, it’s important to consider the human behaviours driving change. We’ve all learned to work differently during the pandemic. Those lessons don’t go away with the restrictions. What does this look like for mobile?
“As a result of lockdowns, video calls have become the norm,” Juliette says. “If you go back two years, that wasn’t the case. The business world is opening back up but people are still turning to their Teams application to hold meetings when it’s more convenient.”
Other times, Juliette explains, they’re making video calls that would previously have just been audio. This requires greater functionality from their devices. Greater data. Greater connectivity to ensure a stable connection. That can significantly impact your plan.
“We help our customers to find the speeds they need, no matter which network provides it, and we help them to build that into a cost-effective plan that works for them. For businesses implementing fair usage policies, you can also access mobile capping software through us to protect your data.” Juliette Lee, Mobile Sales Director, Opus
If your company travels for business, it’s worth remembering that these behaviours travel with you wherever you go. Many businesses aren’t considering the limitations of the plan or the costs they might incur when colleagues use their business mobiles overseas.
“Few people will connect to local Wi-Fi,” Juliette highlights. “It’s much easier and less hassle to tether to your phone. But abroad, that can become even more costly.”
New mobile horizons as travel reopens
For businesses engaged in international travel, overseas costs were always a key consideration when it came to building a business mobile plan. Now, as travel reopens, the industry is seeing roaming charges and other international costs making a comeback.
During the pandemic, the networks’ roaming usage dropped dramatically. Some may speculate that, as a direct result, roaming pricing structures have changed. Tariff structures have changed. And across some networks, we’ve seen the reintroduction of trigger charges.
“If you go to the EU, check with your mobile provider if there’s a daily charge. It’s small but we’ve enjoyed several years without it being there,” Juliette explains. “There are still packages on the market that can circumvent these changes. For instance, at the time of writing this, our EE and O2 packages don’t have any triggers for the EU. And we also have options on Vodafone if that’s your network of choice. So there are ways you can mitigate it.”
Mostly, Juliette summarises, when it comes to international travel, we’re all a little out of practice. “Aside from the triggers, I think many people have forgotten that when you go abroad, there are still caveats. If you’re on business in Greece, for instance, but you need to call a client in the US, that call is going to be expensive because it’s in a different zone. It’s remembering best practice. For any organisation, that’s key right now.”
Before you or your colleagues next travel abroad, consider the following:
- What are roaming rules?
- What are your users going to be doing when they’re away?
- Are they equipped?
- How much is that going to cost?
- Key questions to ask your incumbent when renewing a plan
The new behaviours we discussed earlier have created massive efficiencies and push-forwards in terms of technology, and they can be supported with the right packages and solutions, but businesses have to be aware of them to make sure their plans are still fit for purpose.
Does my existing plan still future-proof me?
How are my users connecting?
Have they got a reliable connection?
“It’s worth asking these questions because it’s much easier and more effective to adapt your mobile plan around user behaviour than it is to try and unlearn those habits,” Juliette concludes. “The right plan with the right network for your organisation will ensure your mobile strategy meets your business needs and it won’t create a massive cost.”
In March 2020, business priorities meant reacting quickly to keep operations running. Now, you are in a position where you can take a more proactive approach. Adapting your business mobile plan is a key part of this, helping to reduce costs, improve productivity and future-proof operations around the new business mobile landscape.