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Originally Posted On: https://toolboxpost.com/articles/what-makes-deskless-workers-unique
Many of the world’s best and brightest are hard at work developing better solutions for communication in the workplace, but one of the biggest populations of workers is overlooked.
Did you know that 80% of the total workforce is comprised of deskless workers? This may sound surprising, but when you consider the number of critical roles in society that don’t involve a desk (farmers, firefighters, cashiers), it’s even more surprising that there aren’t better solutions for this demographic. In fact, these workers made up a vast majority of the “Essential Workers” deemed critical amid the Covid-19 outbreak. If we didn’t fully understand just how important these employees were before, we certainly learned last year. Deskless workers face many challenges on a daily basis, and in most cases, improved communication is a large part of the solution.
Challenges Faced by Deskless Workers
Deskless workers have notoriously high turnover rates in many industries. They may feel overlooked and underserved by their company, leading them to look for employment elsewhere. This high turnover comes at a massive cost to employers, including lowered efficiency and wasted resources. With over 80% of frontline workers reporting they don’t have a corporate email address and more than 40% saying they don’t even have access to the company intranet, it’s no wonder that challenges are rarely communicated and employees would prefer to just pack up and leave.
Employees report feeling unattached to the company culture due to poor communication. Even as companies take strides to ensure remote workers are catered to in a post-pandemic workplace, deskless employees are still being overlooked. Deskless workers are rarely given an easy way to access company updates on the go and may miss out on important milestones or news. While remote and in-office employees are in constant communication using an array of tools for instant messaging, video chatting, and emailing, few of these tools are tailored to the unique needs of the deskless demographic. 84% of deskless workers say they don’t get enough direct communication from top management, and only 10% feel strongly connected to their companies.
Connecting the Workforce with Modern Technology
It seems clear that investing in technology for deskless employees would be a worthwhile endeavor for companies that would pay off in the end. And yet, 60% of companies have little to no flexible technology solutions for their deskless workers and only 1% of business software spending focuses on technologies for this group. Many of these employees literally make up the frontlines of the company; they’re the first to arrive in an emergency and the first face a customer sees when they walk in the door. Failing to provide ways for them to communicate quickly and efficiently isn’t just irritating for them, but can also potentially lead to a dangerous situation or PR nightmare.
Part of the challenge for companies is that deskless roles are diverse and unique. They demand a wide range of skills, from on-site to mobile locations, customer-facing to operational responsibilities, and technical to non-technical understanding. Because of this variability, the needs of deskless employees necessitate specialized technology. It’s not enough to simply adapt existing solutions for mobile. Instead, companies should partner with technology providers that have deskless workers at the heart of their efforts and can truly understand their challenges.
Fortunately, such solutions do exist. Modern technology is making it easier than ever for companies to ensure deskless workers are included in company culture and day-to-day conversations. 85% of Americans now own a smartphone, connecting us more closely than ever before. For those that don’t, it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide the tools necessary to complete the job. In the modern workforce, that means a way to communicate on the go. 83% of deskless workers reported being given a laptop or PC, tools that obviously seem suboptimal for their roles.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who is not accustomed to text messaging today. Texting is one of the most timely and convenient ways to reach deskless teams for immediate communication. It’s a 2-way channel that requires minimal training and can be deployed quickly and easily. But simple texting alone isn’t enough. Companies need a platform that enables segmentation to deliver customized messaging to each team and sending images that make employees feel more connected or help explain complex concepts. Again, a technology partner that has put time and careful attention into understanding and catering to the needs of everyone on your team is critical. Otherwise, companies risk simply delivering more unsatisfactory technology to an underserved group.
If you’ve been devoting time and attention to new technology for the growing remote workforce and overlooking the deskless workers, you aren’t alone. However, these essential workers cannot continue to be underserved in the workplace by ill-fitting technology solutions. The pandemic showed us just how important these employees really are to the success of so many different industries. They have tried to express their dissatisfaction, but with such poor communication channels their voices have rarely been heard.
By offering advanced, intuitive communication methods to every deskless employee, companies can improve satisfaction and reduce turnover. Ultimately, this will save them time and resources, quickly returning their investment.
With Toolbox Post, we make it easy to communicate with your deskless workers – with no special apps or connections required. Try it for free today