One silver-lining of the pandemic is the increased awareness and appreciation of our deskless workforce. In some cases, we call them essential frontline workers, e.g., employees in health-care, grocery stores, public transportation. Now, we know the previously unsung heroes in our lives are also installing our wi-fi, fixing our washing machines and helping us at Home Depot.
Over the last two decades, the digital shift produced automation technology and apps to replace many physical labor jobs. However, traditional deskless jobs still abound with people working while on the move in construction, warehouses and delivery services – all sans-desk.
The deskless workforce is a vital part of our economy, and the jobs its workers perform are too complex and varied to be replaced by machines or computers any time soon. Despite being 80% of the workforce, these deskless workers are often overlooked by the technology industry. Back in 2018, only 1% of venture investment was going toward companies providing deskless worker tech. Today, investors are aware of the huge demand for tools to simplify and enhance deskless jobs. Business leaders and IT professionals are shifting focus on providing resources to support the growing deskless workforce in our country.
Direction of Deskless
Meeting the needs of verticals: We see growth in the development and deployment of deskless applications. The most successful applications are targeted to specific business verticals. These apps are purpose-built and provide the functionality to meet unique, industry-specific tasks and requirements.
Designing the best UX: Deskless workers often operate in distracting environments and are using their hands. Therefore, their user experience must include clear navigation to enable the efficient completion of intricate tasks. The most critical actions and information should be accessible in a highly intuitive manner.
Scheduling optimization: Workforce management tool adoption reflects the demand for companies to have the right people, in the right place, at the right time. These updated solutions empower businesses to optimize deskless workers’ schedules to capture time reporting, ensure compliance and increase communication. Software features can also promote employee wellbeing with social distancing by scheduling an exact number of employees at different workstations, locations, floors of buildings, etc.
Improving Training and Education: Virtual reality and augmented reality are becoming popular learning formats among deskless employees because our technology-savvy workforce is yearning for employers to expand educational opportunities and formats. Simulation learning provides employers with consistent, thorough, anytime, anywhere training. VR and AR create immersive yet safe, truer-to-real-life situations where employees can learn and develop the skills they need to perform better at their jobs.
Connecting all workers: From your company’s top salesperson to the repairman who scales cell towers, deskless workers need every bit of connectivity and help they can get. Smartphones, walkie-talkies, wearables, etc., need to be accessible, and they need to have direct access to managers when they need assistance.
Why Deskless Matters
Considering the deskless workforce will continue to grow, if you give them the attention and resources they need to succeed, they will help your business grow. By investing in your deskless team, you can increase productivity, improve employee and customer experiences, save money and generate more income. I am looking forward to seeing new state of the art software and devices that will improve the livelihoods for millions of deskless workers.