How to Empower Deskless Employees – 8 Effective Ways
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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 are Deskless Employees?
Deskless employees are people who perform their job duties outside of a traditional office or desk environment. In general, these people are called as “deskless” as they do not have a designated office setting or workspace. Instead, they need to move around for extended periods of time to complete their tasks. They are also sometimes referred to as frontline 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:
Challenges Faced by Deskless Workforce
Deskless employees face many challenges as they 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.
Understand the Needs and Wants of Deskless Workers
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.
Let’s take an 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.
Another example is shift workers who often have different communication needs compared to workers working during conventional 9 to 5 hours. Many organizations communicate with their employees during regular business hours, leaving those who work in different shifts feeling neglected or out of the loop. It’s crucial to recognize these communication challenges and create a communication strategy that fulfills the unique needs of all employees, including those working different shifts.
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.
Why empowering the deskless workers is so important ?
A recent survey revealed that nearly 90% of organizations recognize the importance of empowering frontline employees for achieving success. Cultivating an empowering culture among front-line workers bridges the gap between management and the team, fostering improved communication and high engagement levels. This approach makes every employee feel appreciated, valued, and motivated to achieve their goals.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction
Empowered deskless workers can provide better and more personalized service to customers or clients. Satisfied customers are more likely to be repeat customers, leading to increased customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth, ultimately benefiting the bottom line.
Faster Response Times
Equipping deskless workers with real-time communication tools and access to critical information allows them to respond more quickly to changing situations or customer needs. This agility can lead to faster issue resolution and a competitive advantage in the market.
Increased Employee Engagement
Empowered deskless workers tend to feel more engaged and invested in their work. Engaged employees are more likely to be committed to their roles, go the extra mile, and contribute positively to the overall company culture.
Streamlined Work Processes
Providing deskless workers with digital tools and mobile technologies can lead to more streamlined and efficient work processes. This optimization can reduce operational costs, minimize downtime, and improve resource allocation.
Access to Valuable Insights
By empowering deskless workers with data collection tools and platforms, organizations can gather valuable insights from the field. These insights can inform strategic decision-making, identify trends, and uncover new opportunities for growth and improvement.
Empowering deskless workers can directly contribute to higher profits by improving operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. When deskless workers have the tools and resources they need to perform their tasks effectively, they can complete more work in less time, leading to increased output and revenue generation.
Reduced Workplace Accidents
Empowered deskless workers can access safety protocols, training materials, and communication channels to report hazards or potential risks promptly. This proactive approach to safety can help reduce workplace accidents and injuries, leading to lower workers’ compensation costs and improved workforce well-being.
Deskless Worker Facts
1. Deskless workers share a similar work experience as desk-bound employees
Deskless workers, though operating away from conventional office setups, face similar work challenges and responsibilities. Whether they work in fields like retail, healthcare, or manufacturing, their commitment to their tasks and contributions to the organization are just as vital as their desk-bound counterparts.
2. Their work needs align closely with those of desk workers
Despite the physical disparity, deskless workers have comparable work needs. They require effective communication channels, access to relevant information, and tools that help them perform their duties efficiently and stay connected with their teams.
3. Deskless workers often face challenges in achieving work-life balance
While being deskless can offer diverse work environments, it can also lead to challenges in achieving work-life balance. Many deskless workers face irregular schedules, demanding physical tasks, and limited flexibility, which can impact their personal lives.
4. Mobile technology significantly aids deskless productivity
Equipping deskless workers with mobile technology significantly enhances their productivity and job satisfaction. Mobile devices enable real-time communication, easy access to resources, and data collection, streamlining their workflow and enabling them to make more informed decisions on the go.
5. The population of deskless workers is steadily growing
As various industries recognize the value of deskless workers, their numbers continue to rise. From frontline retail associates to healthcare providers and field service technicians, these workers play a critical role in the global economy.
6. Deskless workers embrace and enjoy their non-traditional work setups
Surprisingly, many deskless workers appreciate their roles and find fulfillment in working outside traditional office settings. The dynamic nature of their work, direct customer interactions, and hands-on tasks contribute to their job satisfaction.
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.”
Here’s why – you should use our AR-powered tools to empower frontline workers
Connect your Workforce in Real-time
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.
Instantly Refer to a Knowledge Base
Workers can instantly access a knowledge base that includes manuals, important information, or training materials. This eliminates the need to go back and forth, and workers can perform their work effectively and save a lot of time.
Simplify Management Process with Digitized Workflows
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.
Accelerate Onboarding 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.
So, what’s still stopping you – connect with us now to empower your deskless employees. Book a demo now!
Technology empowers deskless employees through mobile devices, real-time communication tools, and digitized work instructions. It enhances productivity, access to information, and problem-solving capabilities, ultimately boosting job satisfaction and engagement.
Empower deskless employees by providing mobile devices, digital training, and remote visual assistance. Establish clear communication channels, offer recognition, and create growth opportunities to enhance their performance and job satisfaction.
Managers support deskless employees by maintaining open communication, offering clear instructions, providing feedback, and ensuring access to necessary tools and resources. Understanding their challenges and advocating for their needs fosters a supportive work environment.
Empowering deskless employees results in increased productivity, improved job satisfaction, better customer service, reduced workplace accidents, and enhanced collaboration. It contributes to employee retention and positively impacts the organization's bottom line.
Organizations measure the impact of empowering deskless employees through satisfaction surveys, productivity metrics, customer feedback, employee retention rates, and business performance indicators. Regular feedback from managers on employee performance and development also aids in assessment.
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).
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