How to Train a Deskless Workforce

A group of Deskless Workers from all sorts of industries

Despite comprising the largest group in the workforce, reported at around 2.7 billion people worldwide in 2018, the influx of digital transformation at workplaces often overlooks “deskless workers.” As we get back to work and business as unusual following the pandemic, this is the perfect opportunity for organizations to address how to train a deskless workforce and create best practices for communication.  

2.7 billion is a vast number – this number represents nearly 80% of the entire global workforce. These amazing people are the individuals behind the scenes. They might be working on production lines, delivering goods, serving customers, or treating patients. The pandemic proved the economy’s essential reliance on this population. Yet technology development primarily caters to individuals who spend more time tethered to a desk and the internet.

It is time that technology works to train a deskless workforce and for all the people who support society’s infrastructure. 

Over the past couple of decades, digital transformation has been one of the top priorities for business leaders. The importance of overcoming complexities and exceeding market demands leads the thought process for operations and product development. It is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the rate of digital transformation in businesses. This change, switching everything including training online, has transformed customer behavior as well as organizational structure. Digital transformation, and the constantly updating environment, have opened unprecedented opportunities in the most uncertain times. 

The next wave of mobile-first digital transformation –  deskless training for operational workers 

Most likely, you’re reading this on a laptop, sitting at your desk or via your smartphone at the coffee machine. You probably manage your daily tasks using productivity tools like Slack or Trello and regularly conduct virtual meetings via Zoom or Teams with team members in different time zones.  How convenient! There are literally thousands of applications to aid every activity that we, white-collar workers, do on a regular basis. So why not one that works and helps us train a deskless workforce that much easier? 

However, we are a minority. How is it that 80% of the global workforce is deskless? Meaning their work is not carried out sitting at a desk. But the practical digital solutions we might use every day, mostly do not cater to the majority of employees. 

At enabley, we’ve been investigating what these incredible workers need and want. We mostly want to improve their everyday challenges focusing on the training/knowledge area. We’ve made an easy-to-use, efficient platform, available 24/7 from anywhere & any device. No computer? No problem! Don’t have email? Who cares? Log in via SMS any time, it’s as easy as that! 

Why should the Deskless Workforce be invested in?

Research has found that most hourly and shift workers rarely use computers. This leaves them potentially isolated and out of touch with training events at the company, either online or off. Until recently, investors have shown little interest in how to train a deskless workforce. Venture capital firm Emergence estimated that only about 1% of software venture funding goes into technology aimed at deskless workers. Moreover, a survey the firm conducted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic found that “65% of deskless workers said they were not provided any additional technology to complete their jobs” (By Paul Gillin, Technology Journalist, Computerworld | JAN 7, 2022)  

But why? Poor scheduling, inflexibility, and low employee satisfaction are all contributing to making deskless workers underperform, less engaged, and feel anxious. A large percentage of the deskless workforce is asked to work a schedule that does not subscribe to the typical 8am to 5pm regimen. This means a sporadic work week that can make it difficult to plan. 

It was during the pandemic when shortages of manufacturing line workers, longshoremen, and healthcare workers all but paralyzed some industries. Significantly, they went from forgotten to essential. 

Applying Technical Know-how to Train a Deskless Workforce

Businesses seeking to cultivate loyalty among these newly empowered employees need to apply technology that addresses their unique needs. According to Gartner, workforce management software developers have been adding features like touchless time clocks, health check surveys, contact tracing, and office booking to adapt to new requirements introduced by the pandemic. Some are even taking steps to enhance messaging to reach employees who don’t have organizational email addresses—and providing instructional content or surveys to gauge worker satisfaction.  

We noticed a huge gap, here at enabley, and understood that organizations need the capabilities to keep training deskless workers. It was imperative to communicate with them via SMS instead of emails, give them the power to decide when & where to take courses, and ensure everyone has access to all knowledge streams. A bonus is the ability to track training completion, including QR codes and certification.   

There are three main ways that organizations can address the needs of their deskless team members:  

  1. Give them access to information   2. Automate, Augment, and Alleviate 3. Give them control  

The deskless workforce is always mobile and often disconnected from the rest of the organization. Communication is often via text or video calls. They won’t be found checking their e-mails, in fact, some might not even HAVE emails. The ways these workers receive their information majorly affect their performance; organizing training for these individuals could be a game-changer with potentially the shortest onboarding process and fastest communication.   

The future of deskless training

Once deskless workers in your organization are recognized and their challenges understood, you can create training sessions accordingly to make a larger impact. Companies investing in deskless technology and implementing connected worker platforms, ensure that the full workforce truly benefits from these new technologies. As companies begin to see that deskless workers are frontline employees driving productivity, they’ll be able encourage their whole team. 

Consequently, connected employee platforms have become important for organizations looking to continuously improve services and reach a global standardization of their workforce. An all-encompassing mobile-first platform, like enabley, creates a modern collaborative work environment optimizing the daily activities of all the employees. Enabley ensures a quick and easy sharing of process workflows on any device and at any time.

Some workers may believe that limited budgets or a lack of awareness are causes of not having adequate hardware and software to accommodate the increasing market and demands. According to the Rise in Deskless Workforce Study, by Emergence this is all going to change. 

It’s nice to see that companies are increasingly deciding to make deskless workers a priority by investing in relevant technology. Since more than 90% of deskless employees want communication and training tools that will help improve their productivity and workflow, it looks bright for a more efficient future.

These solutions and other deskless tools should preferably be efficient, mobile-optimized, collaborative, and simple enough for anyone to use. Deskless solutions for Deskless workers.

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