From gap to growth: Key strategies for deskless workforce

Capability Group’s Sudan Jeganathan shares Axonify Deskless Report 2023, highlighting the challenges deskless employees face.
By: | August 18, 2023

The modern work landscape heavily relies on the deskless workforce, which plays a critical role across various industries, from retail and hospitality to healthcare and construction.

To gain insights into the challenges faced by deskless employees and uncover solutions for optimising their productivity and engagement, Axonify conducted a study called Deskless Report 2023, which delves into the frontline environment, gaining a deeper understanding of what employees, managers, and leaders need to succeed.

The report revealed the tasks that frontline managers encounter and their ongoing challenge of balancing staff management and employee satisfaction. Despite their crucial role in frontline enablement, managers face the challenge of being overburdened and having to rely on insufficient tools or their own personal resources.

Another significant finding is the existing gap in information dissemination between managers and deskless employees. While organisations might focus on community and cultural initiatives, the study revealed that the more fundamental needs of deskless employees, such as livelihoods and stability, often go unaddressed. This disparity creates challenges for deskless employees in fully participating, accepting, or recognising the value of peripheral initiatives.

Sudan Jeganathan, Regional Manager Sales and Product, Capability Group – an organisational development consultancy and Axonify authorised partner in Asia-Pacific, told HRM Magazine Asia, “More regular and bite-sized communications top down and across frontline teams is critical to driving engagement and productivity. So is providing the ability for your deskless employees to communicate with each other via two-way communication mechanism. When surveyed, frontline respondents said messaging coming from direct managers and short, easy-to-read copy were the main contributors to making communications more helpful.”

Enhancing communications in Asia-Pacific’s workplaces

In the context of the Asia-Pacific region, Jeganathan highlighted that employees are more likely to use mobile devices for communication and prefer informal communication styles. To align with these preferences, he suggested that organisations leverage mobile-friendly communication channels, such as messaging services, using easily understandable language and personalising messages. This approach enhances engagement, he added, and builds stronger connections between managers and their deskless workforce.

Cultural sensitivity is also a crucial consideration in communication strategies for organisations in this region, Jeganathan highlighted. “Be aware of the cultural differences in communication styles between different countries in Asia-Pacific. Depending on the countries, there will be a set of culturally accepted norms to adhere to.”

To improve communication and foster a sense of community, he encouraged organisations to provide employees with access to relevant information and resources at the point in time that employees need it. Gathering feedback through surveys and feedback forms is another move to identify areas for improvement and demonstrate that employee voices are valued.

Looking to the future, Jeganathan shared several emerging trends specific to the region that will impact the management and support of employees. For instance, the rise of the gig economy necessitates new strategies to attract, retain, and effectively manage gig employees within the deskless workforce. Additionally, the increasing use of AI can automate tasks, deliver customised communications, provide real-time insights, and enhance decision-making, offering opportunities for improved workforce management.

“Organisations that can interpret data to identify trends, improve performance, and make better decisions will hold a huge advantage when it comes to increasing the efficiencies of their people and businesses.” – Sudan Jeganathan, Regional Manager Sales and Product, Capability Group

He continued, “Data has always been powerful. But this will increasingly become even more important in the future. Those organisations that can interpret this data to identify trends, improve performance, and make better decisions will hold a huge advantage when it comes to increasing the efficiencies of their people and businesses.”

He also expressed enthusiasm about the mass adoption of extended reality (XR) technologies in the workplace, and explained, “XR is a rapidly growing technology that has the potential to revolutionise the workplace. XR includes augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality. These technologies can be used to improve training, collaboration, wellbeing, and customer service.”

Embracing technology in frontline training is crucial, according to the Axonify study, where 47% of frontline respondents expressed a desire to leverage technology to address the lack of employee training, considering it the highest priority.

Finally, prioritising employee wellbeing is essential for organisations to improve productivity among employees, as Jeganathan concluded, “The importance of employee wellbeing is a widely discussed topic as of late and will be even more relevant with the pace of change and digital disruption in years to come. Organisations need to find technology-enabled ways to support the wellbeing of their deskless workforce to build both engagement and improve productivity.”