Google estimates that 80% of the global workforce (~ 3 billion) is made up of the deskless workforce.   These are workers in industries such as healthcare, construction, manufacturing, transportation and field service where the majority of their day is not spent sitting at a desk but rather they have true hands on jobs.  

At the same time, enterprise cloud software and mobility have been on steady upward trend for years but out of the $250 billion that is spent each year, only a fraction of that has been spent on solutions addressing the deskless worker.  The majority of software today caters to employees who have always have a  keyboard or phone accessible to them and their time is spent switching between programs for most the day.   

On the other hand, companies with deskless workers have long struggled to get the communication right to these workers. Here’s why  

Limited or no access to a workstation

Deskless workers typically don’t have a dedicated workstation leaving them to work with antiquated technology solutions and processes such as paper flyers and a corkboard. For those who do have access to a workstation, it’s often a shared workstation that they have to go out of their way to use.  If there aren’t enough of them to go around, this means them idling while they wait to get access or not performing their task at all.

Don’t have a company email address

A large number of organizations don’t provide their workers an employee address because there is no way for them to access it anyways. Think about how much information comes to us these days via email at both a site and corporate level. Yes there can be possible waste with how much time goes into email but think about being on the other side of the table. Pretend having no company email address at all and having to receive all you information from other means.

Relying on line managers

There will always be a need for face to face interactions and communications with deskless workers but that doesn’t mean all your communications have to be done that way.  There’s a lot of communications such as corporate and site level communications that can easily get distorted as they get passed down the line. I’m sure everyone has experienced this first hand with playing Telephone. In addition to that, every single time your team manager has to relay information to an employee, there’s real costs.  The less your line managers are bogged down with passing along non-critical communications, the more they can focus on doing their core job.

Always on the move

Deskless workers are deskless since their job typically requires them to be on the move with operating equipment and servicing customers.  They have to move from different rooms, buildings or sites in order to do their job.  Information needs to be easily accessible at the right time, at the right place and done on their own accord in order to be effective with your communications.

A younger workforce with new needs

Last year, Millennials became the largest generation represented in the workforce.  This tech savy generation has a different set of expectations. They are used to the consumerization of IT – an attempt to bring the consumer app experience they use every day into the workplace in a simple, intuitive way. They want to get their information fast and in smaller tidbits.  

The inefficiencies of corkboards

A staple of most organizations is using the traditional corkboard for management to employee communications. These are typically located in breakrooms and around the building. The corkboard is enormous time waste with someone physically having to walk around to each board whenever a new flyer is needed or an old one needs to be taken down.  Not only is paper a waste for companies looking to go green but how captivating is cluttered paper anyways.

WhiteBoard messaging

Similar to the corkboard, managers often rely on whiteboards for communicating announcements, goals, KPI’s, trainings and company events with their employees.   All the same work is involved by a real person but with no insights or analytics whatsoever if the information is being read by the front line.

 

So what does this all mean at the end of the day? Organizations have a large portion of their workforce who have traditionally been difficult to reach and have been ignored for some time.  In today’s age of technology, digitizing the workplace is becoming easier and easier which opens up new opportunities.   In my next blog posts, I’ll cover what these opportunities are for organization who rethink how they communicate and engage with their deskless workers.

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