Deskless workers are a key part of our economy, representing up to 80% of the workforce in sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, retail and many others. They have continued to drive the economy through the COVID-19 pandemic, but at the same time they are under increasing pressure to take on heavy workloads and work long hours in constantly changing environments.
According to a recent survey conducted by BCG survey of deskless workers, more than half are burnt out and 43% are currently looking for a new job, and this is not for financial reasons.
It is therefore crucial for companies to understand the emotional needs of these workers and take them into account to ensure their satisfaction and commitment to the company.
In this article, we'll explore the challenges deskless workers face and ways companies can support them for increased engagement and productivity.
Deskless workers are employees who do not have a physical office to carry out their tasks. They are often associated with occupations in sectors such as hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, food services, airlines and so on.
According to the Rise of the Deskless Workforce report, they represent nearly 2.7 billion people in the global workforce. However, despite their significant presence on the labor market, studies have revealed high turnover rates among these employees. The most common reasons given for this trend are lack of communication and harmony with managers, as well as the desire for better pay and a better work-life balance.
Deskless workers face many challenges that can affect their satisfaction and commitment to their employer. According to a Nudge study report from July 2021, 67% of deskless workers confirmed that timely feedback is necessary for them.
However, 39% said their managers don't listen to them, which can cause a lack of communication and recognition at work. Office-less employees can also feel isolated and disconnected from their colleagues and employer due to their physical workplace.
Common challenges faced by office deskless workers include:
Employees without an office are often confronted with a lack of recognition from their managers. They are in direct contact with customers, but do not receive sufficient rewards or appreciation for their good work, which affects their motivation and leads them to leave their jobs. According to the same Nudge report , 36% of workers want to leave their jobs, and this rate has risen from 38% to 40% for foodservice and facilities management workers, respectively.
Office-less employees suffer from a lack of direct communication with their supervisors. According to a study by Ragan84% of deskless workers say they experience a lack of direct communication with their supervisors, while only 10% claim to be well connected with their company. This can lead to a lack of coordination, affecting productivity and employee satisfaction.
Most of the time, due to a lack of communication and technology, managers don't properly manage the tasks that deskless workers have to perform. This can mean confusing instructions, ill-defined tasks, missed deadlines and so on. All this creates confusion among deskless workers and reduces their productivity. It can also lead to errors and delays, which have a negative impact on work quality and customer relations.
To remedy this, it's important to use effective communication and planning tools, such as online project management applications, to maintain clear communication and effective coordination between managers and deskless workers.
Investing in a digital solution specifically designed for desk-less employees has many advantages for companies. Indeed, the Digital Workplace is increasingly recognized as an essential element in improving communication and working conditions for employees, whatever the sector, size or nature of the workforce.
The Rise of the Deskless Workforce report revealed that 82% of companies plan to increase their spending on IT solutions dedicated to deskless workers. This trend can be explained by companies' growing awareness of the importance of connecting all employees, including deskless ones, to meet real collaborative challenges.
Communication is key for deskless workers. With a digital solution, they can stay informed of important news and company updates in real time. Managers can also publish training modules that can be easily accessed via smartphone to enhance employees' skills.
Task management is also a useful feature for employees without an office. It enables managers to assign tasks to individuals, groups or departments in real time, making it easier to coordinate and execute tasks in the field.
In turn, the feedback function is essential for deskless employees. It gives them the opportunity to voice their concerns and comments, enabling managers to understand their point of view and make decisions accordingly. This helps to improve the employee experience in the field.
Instant messaging is also a practical tool for employees without an office, enabling them to communicate easily with managers and colleagues, even when they're on the move.
Roughly speaking, a digital solution helps to effectively measure employee engagement and satisfaction without an office, enabling managers to monitor and improve their team's performance.
Providing training and professional development opportunities for non-office-based employees is important to help them feel valued and advance in their careers. Employers can offer online courses, webinars and mentoring programs to help employees learn new skills and grow professionally.
It's also essential to give out-of-office employees the opportunity to take initiative, and to reward them for a job well done. Employers can similarly create recognition programs for employees who have demonstrated leadership and initiative, to encourage them to continue to develop and contribute to the company.
Your workforce isn't your machine, they're human beings with unique needs and aspirations. As Peter Drucker so aptly put it, "Man is not a cost, he is an asset". It's time to treat deskless workers as valuable assets, and treat them accordingly to ensure their satisfaction and commitment.