How to Empower Deskless Employees – 8 Effective Ways
Table of Contents
What is the most valuable asset of your company? Your product, service, or the technology you use? No, it’s not your product or technology. It’s your people – the deskless employees who often work endlessly behind the scenes to keep your business running.
However, these employees are often overlooked, leading to disengagement and low morale. Hence, here we are going to help you empower your company’s real asset! We’ll share real-life examples of companies using technology like Augmented Reality to successfully empower deskless employees and provide deeper insights on keeping them connected.
So, discover the power of an engaged and empowered deskless workforce with this blog. Let’s get started!
What is a Deskless Employee?
A deskless worker is comprised of employees who perform their job duties outside of a traditional office or desk environment. This means deskless workers do not have a designated office setting or workspace but instead work on their feet and move around for extended periods of time to complete their tasks. They are also sometimes referred to as mobile workers or field workers. They may work in industries such as:
Some common examples of deskless workers include construction workers, nurses, hospitality staff, and field service technicians.
Today, deskless workers account for an astounding 80% of the total global workforce. Organizations are trying to support better and engage with these workers, who are essential to the success of their businesses. They are continuously trying to address the challenges that deskless employees face. Here are some of the key challenges faced by them:
Key Challenges Faced by Deskless Workforce
Empowering deskless employees can be challenging regardless of the industry or company size. This is because these employees typically work outside a traditional office setting and have limited interaction with team members. Moreover, there are several other factors that contribute to employees feeling disconnected and disengaged, such as:
Limited Access to the Right Information
Deskless workers often face challenges accessing the right information, including updates on machinery, schedules, operations, training materials, etc. As they do not have access to the technology, it makes it difficult to inform them about changes in work processes. As a part of an organization, it is essential for these deskless workers to be well-informed and knowledgeable.
According to a survey conducted by McKinsey, employees spend an average of 1.8 hours every day – or about 9.3 hours per week – searching and gathering information.
Lack of Instant Communication
Effective communication is essential with deskless employees as it creates a positive and productive work environment. However, for some deskless employees, communicating with team members or technicians can be a challenge.
Deskless employees may not have access to traditional communication channels, which office-based employees commonly use. This limited access to communication channels makes deskless employees feel disconnected from their organization.
In addition, they even don’t have access to messaging tools or video conferencing tools, making it challenging to collaborate with other team members in real time. As a result, this also makes deskless employees may feel disconnected from their managers. Moreover, due to the lack of guidance and support, they are not able to perform their job effectively.
According to the research by Ragan, 84% of deskless employees said they have difficulty communicating with their top management, and only 10% feel connected to their companies.
For example, In a utility company, such as an electricity service provider, approximately 30% of the team members may work as field employees. These employees are often responsible for repairing equipment. As they spend most of their time outside, scheduling regular meetings with their manager or supervisor for important business updates becomes challenging. Additionally, receiving timely information from the company can take time and effort.
Lack of Proper Tools & Technology
Deskless employees do not have the proper tools and technology that are required to perform their job duties effectively. These employees often work remotely, such as in construction sites, warehouses, or healthcare facilities, where they need access to specialized equipment or technology to perform their tasks.
Without access to the proper tools and technology, deskless employees may experience various issues. They may face issues in completing tasks on time or with accuracy, leading to decreased productivity and increased costs for the organization.
Inefficiency in Scheduling Tasks
Due to the lack of technology and communication, employees are not able to connect with their team members. This creates a sense of confusion and can lead to deskless workers not having a clear understanding of deadlines or priorities. Moreover, deskless workers are not able to prioritize their work effectively, which decreases their productivity. Unclear work instructions may end up doing unnecessary work or failing to solve complex issues on time.
Higher Risk of Getting Injured
Deskless employees may have work-related injuries because they work in hazardous environments. For example, on construction sites, warehouses, or any other outdoor job sites. These environments may be more prone to accidents and injuries. Another factor that contributes to the increased risk of getting injured is the lack of proper training and safety equipment.
Today, industries are looking for more effective ways to empower frontline employees, also referred to as deskless employees, to enhance productivity, employee retention, and ultimately organization’s success.
What Do You Mean by Frontline Empowerment?
Frontline empowerment is about providing your workers the freedom and decision-making power to take meaningful action in their work. This means assisting frontline workers with the necessary resources, training, tools & technology to excel in their roles. The main goal of frontline empowerment is to create a culture of trust and collaboration where frontline workers feel valued and can significantly impact the organization’s success.
Empowering your frontline workers is not an instant process – it takes time and effort. However, this can be achieved by using effective tools to help your employees to be more productive and engaged. By doing so, organizations can create a positive work environment that supports employee growth and development.
By cultivating a culture of empowerment, your front-line workers can bridge the gap between management and other team members, enhancing better communication and a high level of engagement. Due to this, every employee feels appreciated, valued, and motivated to achieve their goals.
So why is empowering deskless employees so crucial for your company’s success? Here are just a few reasons:
Improving Frontline Engagement and Morale
Deskless employees who are empowered and engaged mean better employee morale and fit well with the team members. By empowering them, you are giving them the authority to take action in real time in this fast-paced business environment. This, in turn, not only keeps your frontline workers motivated and engaged but also promotes transparency and trust between other team members. Hence, empowered frontline employees result in higher job satisfaction, increased productivity, and reduced turnover rates.
More Efficient Training
Nowadays, organizations have no need to rent venues or hire external trainers to conduct training sessions for remote employees. As businesses shift to digital, employee training must also be digitized to provide just-in-time and need-based training for deskless workers who are always on the move. Providing digitized work instructions enables frontline workers to use updated information. Providing step-by-step SOPs help new employees understand how to operate and can do their job effectively.
Better Management of Information
It is essential to share necessary knowledge among employees who can benefit from it the most. This knowledge exchange promotes teamwork, especially among deskless workers who often feel disconnected from the rest of the team. By providing access to digital tools and technology, deskless workers can access this important information in real-time, allowing for better decision-making and improved operations. In addition, digital tools can help ensure that information is accurate, consistent, and accessible to those who need it.
Fewer Workplace Accidents
Reducing workplace accidents is essential for any organization, even for financial well-being. Moreover, reporting injuries and repairing damaged work property and vehicles can also be time-consuming and costly. By providing the necessary training and resources, organizations can ensure that their deskless workers receive ongoing safety training and remain informed about protocols and daily tasks. This significantly reduces the risk of workplace accidents.
Effective communication with deskless employees leads to higher profits. When deskless employees are provided with the right technology and timely information, they become more engaged and productive, leading to improved profitability for the organization.
More Valuable Ideas
Empowered employees are more likely to share their valuable ideas and find ways to improve business processes, which leads to cost savings and increased profits.
Connected workers can easily interact with each other, promoting collaboration among team members. Say, for example, when deskless workers are provided with smart devices, they can easily communicate with each other, regardless of their physical location. This allows them to contribute to projects, track progress, and provide feedback, which ultimately helps them work together more effectively.
Effective communication builds trust among them and leads to a more positive and productive work environment. By empowering the deskless workforce, organizations can benefit from increased efficiency, better decision-making, and ultimately improved performance.
How to Effectively Empower Deskless Employees – Eight Ways
A deskless workforce plays a crucial role in your organization. While different industries may face diverse challenges with their frontline workforce, we provide the best practices that ensure a positive employee experience for all types of frontline employees. Here are our top tips to empower your deskless employees:
#1. Present a Clear Vision
One way to increase engagement and empower deskless employees is to communicate clear and compelling visions. This involves imparting corporate values and mission statements to all frontline workforce. These principles are not just mere words but the driving force behind the organization’s operations.
When an employee understands the purpose and goals of an organization, they are more likely to adapt them to their own work goals. This connection leaves them more fulfilled with their work.
#2. Empower your Frontline Employees with Right Technology
Providing your team members with the right technology and tools can empower them to access timely information. Whether it’s facilitating internal communication, communicating safety measures, or keeping them informed about procedures, providing your frontline workers with user-friendly technologies is essential.
One such technology is remote visual assistance, where they can visually see, communicate, and resolve critical issues in real-time. Not only that, but frontline employees can also capture images and recordings from service sessions and build a secure knowledge repository to use whenever needed.
Real-life Example: ThyssenKrupp, a German Steel Conglomerate, Provide Technicians with HoloLens Technology
ThyssenKrupp, a German steel conglomerate renowned for its elevator manufacture, uses “HoloLens” mixed reality smart glasses to empower their frontline workers. This brings digital objects into the real world, allowing users to interact with them as if they are physically present. Using HoloLens, service technicians were able to visualize and identify errors with elevators before they arise.
According to ThyssenKrupp, the HoloLens has helped reduce the time it takes to troubleshoot and repair equipment by up to four times. The tool has also improved the safety of their technicians, as they can receive guidance and support from experts without having to take their eyes off their work.
Using HoloLens, ThyssenKrupp has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of its maintenance and repair processes. Technicians are able to connect with experts via video conferencing. Through this, they can share their visual field directly with an expert and resolve issues in real time. The remote assistance tool has helped reduce downtime for equipment, as technicians can receive guidance and support from experts without having to wait for them to travel to the site physically.
#3. Effective Onboarding and Training
“2019 research indicates that 38% of frontline employees did not receive formal training, while 27% reported that the training they received was incomplete, unengaging and ineffective.”
This lack of training puts significant pressure and stress on new frontline workers right from the first day of their job, which can lead to disengagement.
Hence, effective onboarding and training are another way to empower deskless employees. It is an essential step in empowering deskless workers. Without the right training, workers may struggle to do their work properly, resulting in poor performance. Immersive employee training and learning make them work-efficient and productive.
Real-Life Example: Boeing using AR for Electrical Wiring Training
Boeing, a leading global aerospace industry, has recognized the growing complexity of installing electrical wiring on an aircraft. In order to effectively train their technicians and solve complex repair processes, Boeing decided to implement augmented reality as a possible solution.
Using this augmented reality, workers acquire important, timely information about numerous automobile components and procedures, such as:
Identifying Issues and Providing Workers with Instructions for Repairs & Maintenance: Workers are able to get the appropriate repair procedures, as AR helps in identifying the sources of faults in automotive objects. Through this, workers can perform their repairs quickly and efficiently.
Practicing Complex Repair Procedures: The AR can provide learners with the opportunity to practice complex repair procedures. This enables trainers to gain hands-on experience in a virtual environment.
Overlaying Interactive 3D Wiring Diagrams: These diagrams can provide workers with a more detailed understanding of how machines work.
Make automotive workshop processes faster.
Trainers were able to rectify errors in real time.
In today’s fast-paced environment, Boeing has set a new standard for training in the automotive industry and is empowering its employees with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.
#4. Two-Way Workforce Communication
It is essential for an organization to build a strong communication channel between workers and team members. And this is especially important for deskless employees who are typically not in the same physical location. Unfortunately, still there are many industries that rely on outdated communication methods that don’t work well, especially for frontline workers. Workers often miss out on important information due to poor network connection or are forced to rely on printed updates.
To address this issue, the industry should use effective communication channels that work for all employees, regardless of their location or access to technology. Cloud-based software can be an excellent choice for organizations. It can build a strong sense of community among deskless employees. Providing access to shared resources such as training materials, step by step SOPs can help to foster a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement. This, in turn, can lead to increased engagement, satisfaction, and productivity among deskless employees.
Effective two-way communication ensures that workers have the right information which they need to perform their tasks effectively. With the help of cloud-based software and other modern communication tools, workers can work efficiently, regardless of their location.
#5. Don’t Burden Remote Workers with Paper-Based Instructions
Organizations should avoid paper-based instructions as they can lead to misinterpretation, errors, and delays in the production process. As a result, it is important to have digitized work instructions which can be accessed from any device at any time. This is particularly important for frontline workers who are constantly on the move and need to refer to instructions quickly and easily at work.
Digitized work instructions are more user-friendly and easier to understand as compared to traditional paper-based work instructions. They can include images and videos that can assist frontline workers to clarify complex instructions or procedures. Digitized instructions are easily updated and shared with all team members at once. Moreover, it streamlines operations while also providing frontline workers with the necessary resources they need to be successful in their work.
#6. Equip Deskless Employees with the Safety Information
One more way to empower deskless employees is to provide them with up-to-date information on how to stay safe and avoid injuries at work. This is an essential step, especially for frontline workers who often face more physical risk as compared to office workers. The latest safety guidelines and protocols will assist frontline workers while performing their tasks.
Organizations can provide safety measures through digitized work instructions. Ensure the information is presented clearly and concisely, making it easy for frontline workers to understand. They can access safety information from wherever they are from any device, including tablets, smartphones, or laptops.
Thus, empowering deskless workers with safety information reduces work-related injuries and enhances workers’ morale and productivity.
#7. Value their Ideas
Organizations are suggested to collect their deskless employees’ feedback regularly. There might be many frontline workers who have great ideas for improving their work experience. It is essential to implement these suggestions or at least communicate your reasons for not implementing them. This makes them feel they were at least heard and valued their suggestions. They may feel motivated to contribute to the success of the organization.
#8. Manage their Meetings
As deskless employees work remotely or in different locations, they can’t attend meetings in the office. So, for that, remote video assistance tools are necessary to facilitate meetings and increase participation. With the remote assistance tool, multiple participants are able to join the meeting and interact with each other in real time, making it easier to collaborate and communicate effectively. Through this, deskless employees feel more connected to their team members, even if they are not actually present on-site. Not only this, but remote video assistance software also allows for screen sharing, making it easier to present and collaborate on ideas.
Empower your Deskless Employees with Plutomen
At Plutomen, we believe that when your deskless workforce is equipped with the right tools and technology, they can become your most valuable assets and make a significant impact on your organization’s success. Our Frontline Operational Platform, Plutomen, can help empower your deskless employees by:
Connecting your Workforce in Real-time with AR Powered Remote Assistance
With AR-powered remote visual assistance software, field workers can connect with their technicians, experts, or team members in real time. This instant communication can help employees receive assistance or guidance whenever needed, enhancing productivity and resolving issues quickly. Workers can use AR headsets or smart glasses to share real-time video streams with experts who can provide remote assistance and support.
Simplifying Operational Process With Digital Checklists & Work Instructions
AR-Based Digital Work Instructions Software can simplify task management processes by providing workers with step-by-step instructions that assist them through complex issues. Through this, the frontline workforce stays focused and completes their tasks more accurately, reducing errors and improving quality. For example, workers can simply scan the QR codes on machines, which can automatically provide them with the relevant information or instructions.
Accelerating Your Employee’s Industrial Skillsets With AR Powered Training
Augmented reality training can accelerate the onboarding process for new workers by providing them with immersive and interactive training experiences. Augmented Reality Training software enables industry experts to develop their own training model, through which workers can learn about the equipment in a more engaging and memorable way.
With more than 12+ years of experience in the world of enterprises, technology, and metaverse, Keyur Bhalavat is leading Plutomen to gain meaningful partnerships & to have a strong clientele network. He is one of the board members of GESIA (Gujarat IT Association Ahmedabad).
Check out our latest blogs and news on all-things in Frontline Work.
Frontline workers seized the spotlight in 2020, and they’ll almost certainly be a topic of discussion regarding the workforce and employment rates. Afterall, they are the ones who have put their life in danger to keep the industry operations up and running. They are the ones who have sacrificed their lives more than anyone in […]
The slightest error can mean the difference between a positive client experience and lost business in field service management (FSM). The inability to handle field service requests on the first fix is one of the “mistakes” that negatively impacts customer satisfaction. Showing up is insufficient in today’s atmosphere of intense competition and changing customer expectations. […]
According to a recent Arlington Research survey on the state of the frontline work experience in 2021, 45% of frontline employees are already planning to quit their jobs. The survey aims to shed light on the factors that contribute to high turnover rates in industries, retail, and more. The survey results highlight the importance of […]
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.