More than 80% of the global workforce is deskless. That's more than 2.7 billion people working outside of a traditional office setting, making it more important than ever to have effective communication tools in place.
This guide is designed to help business leaders keep their deskless employees connected and communicating, no matter where they are. We'll cover a variety of topics, from why communication is so important (and often challenging!) for deskless workers, to how to choose and evaluate digital communication tools to engage your deskless workforce with ease.
Why communication is important for deskless workers
With such a strong majority of the global workforce that is deskless, purposeful corporate communication solutions are crucial. This means ensuring all employees feel connected, in-the-loop and heard - even as a deskless team. As such, there are a number of reasons effective employee communication is important for frontline workers and their wider teams.
1. Reduces turnover
With the Great Resignation still in full swing, all business leaders need to be focusing on employee retention. This becomes even more prominent for the deskless workforce, with 52% of frontline workers claiming they would leave their job over tech tools in 2022.
Additionally, according to a survey of 8,000+ global frontline workers and C-suite executives, 45% of frontline workers were planning on leaving the frontline altogether this year.
With most corporate communications tools not designed for them and frontline engagement projects lacking in substance, deskless workers are showing high turnover rates and low job satisfaction, creating an unstable workforce for your business.
Effective communication can improve job satisfaction by creating a sense of community and increasing transparency from leadership. This also helps to reduce misunderstandings and conflicts among employees, leading to better employee retention rates.
2. Increases profits
Better communication means better engagement. Indeed tells us that improved communication works to connect and keep open lines of communication between employees and other members of the organization, which ultimately works to create better engagement between employees. But did you know that this can have a further positive impact on your company profitability?
Engaged employees, who feel heard, valued and involved in communications, are more productive, and this increased productivity can often result in a more profitable business.
As we highlighted in our recent Employee Engagement Statistics Guide, highly engaged organizations achieve a 23% difference in profitability, alongside a 43% difference in turnover. By driving home your employee engagement with impactful, intuitive communication, you’re investing in the success of your deskless workforce, and the long-term success and overall profitability of your business.
3. Drives employee experience & empowerment
Deskless workers often have limited access to traditional channels of communication, such as email or company intranet. Providing alternative means of communication, such as mobile apps designed for the frontline, can help improve the employee experience by giving them a voice and empowering them in their work environment.
This also allows for agile, on-the-go, two-way communication that deskless employees need in their fast-paced work environments, which is where communications for deskless workers often fall short.
Better employee experience can also boost your bottom line. HBR research shows that a shift in employee experience would result in a 45% increase in profits per person-hour, adding significantly to both individual, team and overall company success.
4. Increases productivity & organization
Effective organizational communication can increase productivity by reducing miscommunications and streamlining processes. It also allows for better frontline organization, as employees have access to important information and updates in real time.
This helps deskless workers stay on top of their tasks and responsibilities, leading to more productive employees and a more organized frontline.
Without efficient two-way communication solutions, it can be difficult for business leaders to understand, or even acknowledge, the issues their frontline workers are facing. For example, did you know that 70% of frontline workers have either suffered from burnout or felt at risk of burning out?
With great team communication, your leaders can hear and respond directly to workers needs, implementing them into their organizational practices.
Whether that means giving employees an intuitive two-way communication solution such as a mobile employee app, an accessible scheduling tool to prevent miscommunications or an easier way to organize shift swaps, effective communication can improve the productivity and organization of your workforce.
5. Boosts trust, engagement & morale
A lack of communication can lead to a disengaged and distrusting workforce, as employees feel isolated and disconnected from the larger company culture.
Research shows that nearly all (99%) of C-suite executives believe their frontline workers trust them, while only a quarter (26%) of workers entirely trust their organization to communicate company updates and news transparently.
Clearly, as part of the C-Suite it's important to understand how purposeful internal communications help to build a sense of community among deskless workers. By increasing transparency from leadership, you can drive employee engagement long-term. In turn, this can improve overall job satisfaction, minimize churn and build trust with your workers.
6. Improves worker safety
Proper communication can also improve safety in the workplace. Problems with communication leading to major accidents/incidents are well known, according to HSE.
Proper frontline communication includes informing deskless employees of important safety updates, as well as providing a platform for reporting concerns or hazards. In turn, this can lead to a better quality of work and decrease the likelihood of accidents or injuries on the job.
The Blink frontline engagement app offers a central Hub for storing core company policies, procedures and training documents, ensuring all teams have access to important information and updates in real time. It also includes Secure Chats, giving frontline employees the ability to report concerns or hazards directly to management for swift resolution.
The challenges of communicating with deskless workers
While the benefits are great, it can be a huge challenge to communicate with deskless workers in the modern work environment. Some key challenges of communicating with deskless workers include:
- Budget: When you're under-budgeted and under pressure, finding the right communication channels and tools for your deskless workers can be a complex and costly process for business leaders that don't know where to invest.
- Old software or no access to tech: Deskless workers may not have access to the same technology or software that office-based employees do, leading to communication disconnects, especially when using tech not designed for them.
- Implementing new software: Introducing new communication software can also be a challenge, requiring dedicated training and support to ensure adoption and success for your deskless teams.
- Easy access to the right information: Deskless workers often require easy access to essential information, such as company updates, product knowledge or HR policies. Without proper communication channels in place, there can be a breakdown in sharing important information with these teams.
- Disconnected, disengaged & distributed: With teams spread across various locations, it can be difficult for deskless workers to feel connected and engaged with the company and their coworkers. Effective communication helps bridge this disconnect.
- No sense of community or belonging: Deskless workers may not have the same office community or team spirit as traditional office-based employees, making it crucial for businesses to find ways to build a sense of belonging and connection within their remote or distributed teams.
So – how can leaders overcome these challenges and drive stronger communication between their employees? Let’s take a look.
How to improve communication with deskless workers
Build a digital culture
The pressure’s on for leaders in the frontline sector to digitize their communication efforts with deskless employees. As such, many companies are now developing digitalization strategies that enhance employee experience and drive performance.
- One key to business success in a post-Covid world is to embrace a digital culture.
- For digital culture to be successful, it must be driven from the ground up.
Clearly, it's important for business leaders to embrace a digital culture, with communication tools and processes that accommodate deskless workers. This means investing in the right technology solutions, as well as training and support for adoption of more complex tools.
For leaders of a deskless organization, digital communication can reduce the complexity of managing a dispersed team, as well as improve transparency and accessibility for employees in remote locations, making everyone's lives easier.
Digital transformation and digital adoption are now key concepts for the deskless workforce, and a focus on digital culture can ensure deskless workers feel connected and included in company processes. With your workers able to access important information and comms from the palm of their hand, you'll have no shortage of engaged, on-the-ball and informed employees.
And remember, this digital transformation must be built from the ground up, with impactful input from deskless workers themselves on their communication needs and challenges.
Listen to and act on feedback
As important as it is to have the right communication tools in place, it's also essential for business leaders to implement processes that gather and listen to feedback from their deskless teams. Ask for input on what channels and tools they prefer, as well as how communication processes can be improved, and implement it in your communication strategy.
Direct communication with features such as surveys, polls or secure chats can make it easier for deskless workers to provide their input. And listening to and implementing this feedback can lead to more successful communication strategies with your deskless teams.
When workers know that their feedback is being listened to, and acted upon, they will be more receptive to future engagement strategies and communications.
With the right processes in place, deskless workers can feel just as heard, connected, included as their office-based colleagues, leading to a more natural, intuitive communication flow within the entire organization.
Provide easy access to key information
By providing an easy-to-access, intuitively designed central Hub for information and communication, deskless workers have easy access to the essential information they need for their roles. This includes company updates, product knowledge, HR policies and more - all in one place, accessible on any device.
A central Hub can also promote a sense of community by allowing deskless workers to connect with their colleagues and share ideas or important information.
This not only saves valuable time for you and your employees, but can also boost your productivity and improve communication initiatives in the long run.
Focus on building a sense of belonging and connection
Though they may not have the same office community as traditional office-based employees, there are still ways to build a sense of belonging and connection for deskless workers.
This includes regularly scheduled check-ins with managers or team members, virtual (and meaningful) team building activities, and offering opportunities for professional development.
These efforts can help deskless workers feel included, valued, and connected with their colleagues and the company as a whole, which can improve employee engagement in a way that feels natural and earned.
Keep two-way communication channels open
As we touched on, it’s important for deskless workers to not only receive information, but also have the opportunity to share their ideas and feedback.
Communication should not be a one way street from the top down. Employees should be engaging in two-way conversations with both each other and management in order to keep communication open and transparent.
This can be done through regular check-ins or meetings, as well as utilizing communication tools that allow for a two-way flow of information - such as Secure Chats or collaboration platforms.
Encourage real employee recognition
Recognition and appreciation are important for all employees, but can be even more impactful for deskless workers who may not have the same opportunities for team praise or company events.
Implementing a recognition program, with features such as virtual badges or “shout-outs”, can help deskless workers feel seen and valued. And don’t underestimate the power of a personalized thank you note or Feed shoutout from leadership - deskless employees can feel just as appreciated through these small gestures.
The role of technology in deskless communication & employee engagement
The right employee technology is vital for your team communication. And as the deskless workforce continues to grow, so does the need for communication technology and tools specifically designed for them.
Reports show that 75% of deskless workers spend most of their work time using some form of technology, yet 60% reported being unsatisfied with the tech they use.
This is where better employee communication and engagement apps come in. By investing in technology that truly supports and engages your deskless team, you’re able to better connect with them, reaping all of the benefits of great communication we explored above.
But what is the exact role of technology in team comms and employee engagement? Here are a few key roles great technology solutions can play:
Easy communication & real-time responses
The right tech should connect your deskless employees with ease, ensuring they have the same access to communication as their desk-based colleagues. With mobile and desktop apps, they can easily communicate no matter where they are or what device they’re using, making one key role of employee tech easy and intuitive communication.
Successful communication also relies on timely responses, and the right employee communication app should support this with real-time messaging and notifications. This helps to keep your deskless team in-the-loop, ensuring they have access to important information as it happens.
Easy access to important information
Employee engagement technology reduces complexity and overhead for your teams by simplifying password management with single sign on to your tools. By centralizing important information, documents and updates on one platform, employees can easily access what they need without having to navigate multiple systems or chase down colleagues, resulting in a better overall employee experience.
Easy implementation & adoption
A key role of the right technology in team communication and engagement is simple implementation and adoption. Look for a solution that’s easy to set up and navigate, with support available when you need it. This helps make the transition smoother, leading to faster adoption and better results from your tech investment.
It can also be useful to choose a technology that feels familiar to employees in order to drive adoption of your chosen tool. By providing a user-friendly, familiar experience, such as a mobile app, deskless workers are more likely to engage and adopt the technology in their day-to-day work.
Develop business value away from BAU IT
One core role of employee communication tech is to help your business leaders focus on driving real change and value, rather than being bogged down by day-to-day IT management. Look for a solution that is scalable and customizable, allowing you to easily adapt your communication strategy as your business grows and changes.
By developing business value away from business-as-usual (BAU) IT and into an employee communication and engagement platform fit for your frontline, you’re investing in your deskless workforce, and ultimately, your organization.
How to measure the impact of communication technology on your workforce
C-suite leaders are starting to catch on to the potential benefits employee communications technologies, tools and apps can have on their workforce. In fact, leadership trends show increased HR support of supervisors and managers with innovative processes and technology. But how can those leaders measure the success of these digital initiatives?
As part of the C-Suite, the CIO will want to see ROI on any investment made in employee communication technology. In fact, data from CIO found that 81 percent of IT leaders agree that CIOs are under extreme pressure to defend their technology investments and prove ROI.
The best way to measure and prove this is through collecting and analyzing engagement data before and after implementing the technology.
This can be done through surveys, pulse check-ins, or feedback from leaders and managers on team performance. Additionally, you should consider investing in a technology that provides real-time employee engagement analytics, like our Frontline Intelligence feature, to get live insights into how your deskless teams are utilizing the tool.
This key data can help inform and improve your internal communication strategy, ultimately leading to better, and more tangible, ROI.
It’s also important to consider other measures of success, such as improved team profitability, communication and collaboration, boosted employee engagement and satisfaction rates, increased productivity, and higher retention rates for deskless employees. These all contribute to the overall impact of employee communication technology on your workforce.
At Blink, our employee communication and engagement software offers a mobile-first, intuitive solution for your deskless workforce. We support real-time communication, easy access to important information, and simple implementation and adoption – all key roles of technology in team communication and employee engagement.
Our employee app is made for the frontline, to support the needs of your deskless team and drive business value in the process.
Interested in learning more? Request a demo today to see how Blink can drive value for your deskless organization.