Digital technology has completely transformed the workplace. Everything from how we communicate to how we organize our projects and business processes has changed drastically in the past decades, mainly as a result of the proliferation of the internet and other digital tools.
Nowadays, some jobs no longer require physical presence. Thanks to specific tools and remote access to company networks, one can engage in important work and stay up-to-date on projects without ever having to step foot into an office. People can stay connected with coworkers even when they’re overseas or several states/countries away. Moreover, employee communication has become faster, more collaborative, deliberate, and unified as a result of the convenience of smartphones, chat apps, and industry-specific social networking sites.
Unfortunately, deskless workers are seldom on the receiving end of this revolution. Despite comprising approximately 2.7 billion workers, or around 80% of the global workforce, they are often overlooked and simply relegated to spaces wherein their needs are mostly unmet. At a time when automation and digitalization are becoming increasingly important in enhancing productivity, it is then the challenge of management to involve deskless workers in this digital transformation. This transition could open up a vast universe of new opportunities for both companies and deskless workers.
What is a deskless worker?
80% of the Global Workforce is Deskless.
A deskless worker is a person who works from an environment other than a traditional office. As the name suggests, they are not bound to any desk or cubicle. They operate in multiple sectors and industries which range from construction, manufacturing, and retail, to agriculture, restaurants/hospitality, and logistics, among other fields. They are the unsung heroes of any firm, as they are frontline workers who do tough yet necessary work. Owing to their need for mobility and being always on the go, deskless workers have different requirements than those of traditional workers. Despite their critical role in their organizations, these workers frequently lack access to communication and information tools, which leads to disengagement and a lack of empowerment.
Why Deskless Workers Need Deskless Solutions
1. Information Dissemination is Limited
Due to the lack of a physical workspace or dedicated access to technology like a corporate email, deskless workers are frequently not given adequate information about corporate news and developments. Being brand ambassadors and the face of their respective companies, these workers must be well informed and knowledgeable. Deskless workers need access to real-time updates so that they can stay on top of things without having to depend on colleagues or superiors for information. Given that the majority of deskless workers own a smartphone, it is critical that management harness mobile technology in providing them with up-to-date news and information.
2. Feedback Among Colleagues is Almost Nonexistent
Because deskless workers are often situated in fast-paced work environments, it might be difficult to obtain feedback from other team members about how someone is performing or what skills he or she needs to improve for future projects. This can result in a worker having no notion about how he or she is doing or whether or not he or she is fulfilling expectations. For deskless professionals, this lack of input can be a major source of frustration. Without this feedback, it is difficult for a professional to grow and feel like they are adding value to their organization or clientele.
3. Isolation Leads to Disengagement
In addition to losing out on opportunities for feedback, deskless workers are also less likely to feel a sense of belonging or connection with their organization. Deskless employees typically feel left out, are not connected with the company’s vision, and do not feel like a member of the group as a result of poor workplace communication. When this happens, it becomes much harder for them to focus on their tasks and finish them efficiently or effectively. In turn, this leads to wasted time and money for the company as well as decreased productivity levels among all employees. Moreover, this feeling of isolation can lead to disengagement which can have a severe impact on employee retention. With rising job dissatisfaction and safety concerns, worsened by the ongoing pandemic, employees are voluntarily resigning in droves, dubbed “The Great Resignation” by economists. Now more than ever, it’s important that companies curb this problem of isolation by providing a solution that effectively connects and engages their deskless workers.
4. Lack of Access to Resources Hinders Productivity
Deskless workers often feel limited by the lack of access to certain tools or resources that would normally be available if they were working from an office setting. They need the technology to be portable and flexible. They require access to information that is available around the clock and gives them the ability to communicate with their peers virtually and effortlessly. Furthermore, deskless workers need quick and easy access to a content library that will provide them with information on task guidelines, company procedures, and product learning.
Read to learn more about creating a content library for your employees.
5. Higher Risk of Getting Injured or Ill
Considering the nature of their work, deskless workers are more prone to getting injured or getting ill. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has only made to exacerbate this risk which saw them operating on the frontlines. Workers’ safety and protection should then be the utmost priority of companies and managers. Proper workplace communication should be implemented where safety hazards and health policies are strictly observed and employed. Safety and health policies will only be effective if they are based on the right framework. A framework that emphasizes the role of communication in driving clear communication can bring health and safety policies alive.
4 Challenges of the Deskless Workforce & How to Solve Them
The Advantages of Connecting Deskless Workers
1. Better Management of Information
To guarantee the success of any business, one needs to make sure that the knowledge within the organization is constantly being shared with those who may benefit from it the most. This free exchange of knowledge fosters teamwork and makes deskless workers feel that they are a part of the team. Additionally, this flow of information in all directions not only develops a sense of belonging but also promotes cohesion, adds value to each individual’s initiatives, and is useful in reducing staff turnover. Create and centralize all important information in one place through a content library to consolidate knowledge and foster a sense of community.
Discover how to engage your team with content distribution.
2. Collaboration is Fostered and Encouraged
Connected deskless workers can interact with each other more easily, which encourages collaboration within and between teams. This leads to improved communication and cooperation, which helps employees work together more effectively. When they are connected, deskless workers can assist one another, join in on projects, and follow them with all of the teams. They are encouraged to speak up, offer their opinions, and give feedback, which builds trust among them in the long term. For example, if you have employees working from different locations, they may be able to collaborate on projects by using video conferencing or messaging apps on their mobile devices or any tech solution.
3. More Efficient Training
The days of engaging outside trainers and renting out venues to accommodate hours-long presentations and training for your mobile workforce are over. The shift to digital also requires the digitalization of employee training which means providing just-in-time learning and need-based training for deskless workers who are always on the go. This alternative method allows employees to take their learning materials with them as they go about their everyday tasks. This strategy also promotes self-paced learning and allows employees to learn at their own pace by utilizing bite-sized training modules and materials that incorporate gamification which encourages engagement and fun.
Explore how you can upskill your entire team from their smartphones with Albert’s Mobile Training solutions.
4. Analytics for Continuous Improvement
The main advantage of having a connected workforce is the ability to generate data and analyze the data to make business decisions. By exporting valuable statistics, employers can use data analytics to identify areas where their deskless workers need to improve upon and to establish plans for continuous improvement within their organizations. This process can be used for anything from identifying trends in employee productivity and engagement, improving customer satisfaction, or strategic decision-making. Connected workforces allow organizations to leverage their data assets to better understand and run their business.
Learn how to scale up success and accomplish business objectives with Albert’s Analytics Dashboard.
Deskless workers are here to stay, and as the modern world continues to evolve, employers are now realizing the importance of helping deskless workers stay digitally connected. It’s past time to include them in this digital revolution, and give them the attention that they truly deserve. To provide them with technology that meets their needs, and a technology that connects them and makes them feel empowered and performant.