January 14, 2022

The Challenges of Training a Deskless Workforce

Sam Caucci

Deskless workers make up 80% of the global workforce, yet new technologies and advancements have not been invested as heavily for deskless workers. A deskless worker is anyone who does not sit behind a desk in order to perform their work. Deskless work spans across many various industries, such as agriculture, hospitality, retail, and education. 

Despite there being a large deskless workforce, they have often been overlooked in terms of upgrades to working tools and technologies. Only about 1 percent of enterprise software investment is invested in deskless workers. Quite often, deskless workers end up feeling disengaged with their work and isolated from their team and leaders, while also having to deal with completing their work using old tools. 

In addition to this, implementing proper training and development programs for deskless workers is another layer of the difficulty many employers face. Many deskless workers work in several different locations and doing anything face-to-face during the pandemic has become almost impossible. 

The Challenges of Training Deskless Workers

There are a few reasons why most companies struggle to train their deskless workers, here are some of the biggest concerns:

Communication

One of the most commonly cited reasons why training is difficult for deskless workers is that they have difficulty accessing, or have no access, to company communication and technology systems. Many deskless workers do not even have a personal company email address or an assigned mobile device. Plus, they may not be in the best position to check for new information while working, or may not be able to access training while working, such as those who work in retail or as cashiers. 

It’s important to recognize that remote workers are not the same as deskless workers. With many employees working from home, they still have a desk wherever they are working from. This gives these workers complete access to their company’s communication channels and internal technology systems. 

If there are employees who do not have a place where they feel connected to the company and channels of communication, then spreading useful information will be much more difficult. 

One of the more oblivious solutions to this problem is to introduce or rely more heavily on mobile learning. Whether the company allows deskless workers to bring their own device, uses onsite kiosks or gives out assigned devices, increasing access to mobile technology will be a greatly efficient way to distribute training to those that do not have a desk that they can call their homebase. 

Commitment and Purpose

As a whole, deskless employees tend to be less loyal or committed to one company because they view their jobs as temporary. Statistics show that deskless workers tend to switch their jobs more often than desk workers, and they might not perceive their employer as having long-term benefits and stability. 

These are some reasons why connecting deskless workers to the company culture is such a challenge. On top of that, the communication issues that deskless workers face can also mean that learning and development teams and HR are less able to communicate regularly with their deskless workers. This can cause many workers to feel left out, abandoned, and muddy when it comes to the purpose of their job and how it is important for the greater company’s purpose. 

In order to find a solution to this problem, the lack of communication will need to be addressed, and once that happens communication can become more systematic in order to create a sense of consistency and connection. Deskless workers deserve the same amount of attention and care that office workers get. This means giving them clear, concise direction and specific assignments when it comes to their development and ongoing training. 

Turnover

Statistics show that industries that have large numbers of deskless workers have very high turnover rates. Two examples include supermarkets and quick-service restaurants which experience a whopping 100% turnover every year. 

Why is turnover so high in these industries? The reason is low job satisfaction and negative work environments. In fact, 1 in 3 deskless workers feels that they are not appreciated at work. This ultimately leads to disengagement and dissatisfaction. It is human nature to want to feel appreciated for doing hard work, and if not then it can lead to negative attitudes towards their job. 

However, once communication and a sense of commitment and purpose are fostered, this can help boost the effects that ongoing training and development have on the deskless workforce, helping them feel more engaged and that their jobs are valued. If you leave these workers consistently in the dark, then they will leave given the chance. Instead, you can give your workers the power to excel using the latest tools and technology available. This will help to inspire them and lengthen their tenure at your organization. 

Compliance Training

A majority of companies with a large deskless workforce focus more on compliance training compared to actual professional development, unfortunately. Still, if you are committed to improving the working conditions for your workforce, you should do more than simply offer compliance training, you should also provide career and personal development options. 

Doing so will help you achieve success in the three major areas of concern for deskless workers, mentioned above. You will be able to foster more open communication and engagement, higher commitment, loyalty, and purpose, and reduce employee turnover. 

Deskless workers rarely have time on the job to complete training courses, and if they need to do mandatory compliance training on top of that this means they probably won’t have the time or energy left over for other types of learning. Instead, allot specific time for deskless employees to complete learning pathways that contribute to their development. Whether this is towards management roles, new skill sets, professional certifications, soft skills, etc. 

Increasing investment into developmental training, especially mobile training, can help be a solution to many of the challenges deskless workers face when it comes to their training and development. 

Level Up Your Deskless Workforce with 1Huddle

At 1Huddle, we offer cloud-based employee gamification software that can easily adapt to any employee training or gamification strategy you want to implement at your workplace. You can customize your content for a seamless experience and all of your employees will be able to access their training anywhere, anytime, and at the push of a button. You can use our gamification platform to measure their performance and make key decisions on where you should take your gamification strategy next. 

Do you want to learn more about how 1Huddle can help you level up your own workforce? Request a demo today.

Sam Caucci Founder & CEO at 1Huddle