How to Transform the Work Experience for the Deskless Workforce

Covid-19 has completely changed the way we work, especially for the deskless workforce. In many cases, officeless workers in the service sectors were still required to report to work despite the shutdowns caused by the pandemic.

According to a recent Thrive Insights & Analytics survey, 40% of adults said that in a non-Covid-19 environment, their role at work would typically require them to interact regularly with people outside of their home, either in an office, hospital/doctor’s office, warehouse, a restaurant, or store location. It is highly likely that a majority of this group still found themselves working in person, even with the current situation.

To better understand the impact of Covid-19 on the deskless workforce and ways companies can improve their work experiences, I recently reached out to Mike Morini, CEO of Labor software. WorkForce Software is the world’s leading provider of cloud-based workforce management solutions.

During our chat, Mike shared insights on how companies can support and meet the unique needs of these workers and the impact of technology on creating better employee experiences.

Gary Drenik: What is the officeless workforce for those who don’t know?

Mike Morini: The deskless workforce is the group of employees who typically do not sit behind a desk to perform their jobs. In today’s global workforce, 80% of global workers and almost 100% of shift workers are without a desk, working primarily in industries such as healthcare, retail, construction, agriculture, manufacturing and transportation.

Drenik: Obviously the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, but how was their experience different from that of other employees?

Morin: In the past, tech entrepreneurs focused primarily on creating tools for office workers. In fact, less than 1% of all enterprise software spending is allocated to this group, leaving deskless workers with inefficient or no technology solutions or even manual, paper-based processes to accomplish their daily tasks. Nearly 60% of companies have little or no flexible technology solutions in place for their deskless workers. Overall, the lack of HR technology for deskless workers has left a major gap and missed opportunity for businesses, creating challenges for employers when communicating, planning and managing this large percentage. of their workforce. Failure to provide these workers with the proper tools and technology has placed a burden on them during the pandemic, especially when coupled with greater exposure to other workers and the public, their lack of work schedules flexible working arrangements, childcare issues and sufficient time off to mitigate burnout.

The reasons for these differences in experiences are largely due to the power imbalance between employers and employees. Where employers once held more power in the relationship – providing the bare minimum for the jobs they thought people needed – the shortage of talent, the reduced friction for changing jobs, the steep pay increases for competing for vacancies and the increased desire for flexibility have dramatically swung that power. to employees. Businesses today need to think about how they can create workplaces where people want to be in order to meet the business need for an engaged and productive workforce.

Another possible factor is the lack of awareness and knowledge among businesses and developers about the needs of the officeless workforce. Imagining tools that skyrocket productivity is easier when you personally understand the obstacles. Most software developers are office workers themselves.

Drenik: How can companies respond effectively to different subsets of employees?

Morin: The nature of the work performed results in an inevitable disparity between what workers with and without a desk can expect or be offered. However, the need to recognize differences and create the appropriate accommodations is key to attracting new employees and increasing employee retention. The face of a major risk leader is not quickly addressing the challenges exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic in a material way fast enough to avoid unwanted attrition. Employees have expressed dissatisfaction with the state of their experience despite companies investing millions of dollars in programs to improve culture, experience and professional development, but whose implementation has failed. often failed to respond adequately to how workers without desks could be included. To minimize this and create an attractive value proposition for new hires in this highly competitive job market, companies must invest in office and office workers and include them in the design and implementation of company programs. .

Achieving this also requires fairer investments in technology delivered to deskless workers who currently receive less than 1% of enterprise software spend. Effective use of technology to enhance the employee experience and provide productivity tools and access to information with consumer-grade ease of use are the starting points for creating less friction and greater great inclusion for workers without a desk. Collaboratively defining programs and monitoring their use and employee sentiment must be an ongoing initiative to avoid the risk of falling behind in the war for talent.

Drenik: Are companies in danger if they do not change their work strategy? What actions could employers take?

Morin: Looking back on the past year and a half and the ever-changing workforce, there is a huge risk for companies that don’t reinvent or change their work strategies. There has been a lot of talk about returning to work and how employees will adjust to hybrid work schedules, but a recent Thrive Insights & Analytics A survey found that 69% of adults, who used to work away from home but are now working from home, would prefer to continue working from home after the pandemic is over. Many companies take this into consideration and implement ways to accommodate the needs of all employees, but it largely ignores deskless workers who have never had and will not have the freedom to leave their physical workplace. .

Looking ahead, what leaders need to do is make sure that white collar workers don’t remain the primary focus. Plans should be in place to meet the distinct needs of each group and include equitable and inclusive programs for all employees. If this is not done, companies can see higher turnover, as well as lost productivity and morale for workers who are left behind, which ultimately impacts the bottom line and barriers to the growth.

The first step employers should take is to measure where you begin your journey. Engage employees – not through an annual survey – but through an ongoing feedback loop to gauge sentiment. Ongoing monitoring and measurement of program effectiveness must take place to ensure that investments are producing the intended results.

Finally, it’s critical to make appropriate investments in technology that leverages data to detect potential issues, gather frequent employee feedback, and empower managers to act when they need to act. Failing to act on feedback can have a negative impact on employees – more than if no one had ever asked for their feedback.

According to WorkForce Software Workplace Employee Experience Gaps Report, there is a significant difference in the preferences of employers and employees for the same programs. Only 50% of employees report having access to modern systems for tracking time and attendance and 56% of employees report very outdated methods for tracking time, including wall clocks, paper forms and punch cards. Much more needs to be done to improve the experiences of these underserved workers. The most important thing to do is to start.

Drenik: Overall, what’s the big takeaway here?

Morin: 2020 and the start of 2021 have shone a spotlight on deskless workers and highlighted the importance of the work they do and the flexibility to recognize and accommodate their unique needs. Companies need to listen and adapt to the feedback they receive at much more frequent intervals to have a meaningful impact on employee perception. Rewards are important for companies that can deliver great experiences and making an impact must now become a priority for businesses.

Drenik: Thank you, Mike, for sharing your knowledge about this group of workers. Your insights and advice are sure to help other leaders implement impactful strategies for their officeless workforce and positive creative employee experiences during this pivotal time and into the future.

Maria D. Ervin