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Managing deskless workers: how to overcome the biggest challenges

The deskless workforce makes up 80% of the global workforce.

The top 8 deskless industries are Agriculture, Education, Healthcare, Retail & Wholesale, Hospitality, Manufacturing, Logistics, and Construction, which employ 2.7B employees. But despite making up the majority of the global workforce, these workers are being overlooked by technology providers, and deskless workers are only seldom being provided with business software to enhance their day-to-day tasks and working processes.

The deskless workforce makes up 80% of the global workforce.

Millennials now make up the majority of the workforce, which means that workers are familiar with technology and expect it to facilitate every aspect of their daily lives. The same goes for their workplace. There aren’t enough hours in the day, and day-to-day work lives are stacked with tasks, projects, and calls, but the right technology can help you become more productive during those hours.

That is why more and more companies that employ deskless workers are investing in technology, specifically mobile technology. Some of the main reasons companies report doing so are productivity (33%), employee experience (23%), cost savings (21%), and communication (11%).

But investing in technology is a complex undertaking that needs to be carefully thought through.

Currently, most of the technology being built addresses the workforce sitting behind a desk. Therefore, employers of a deskless workforce need to pay extra attention that they invest in the right technology to overcome the specific challenges involved. We will now dig deeper into these challenges and how that impacts the technology investment choices of companies.

Lack of training access

76% of deskless workers are currently not being offered digital skills training, while 46% of workers are not being trained at all. Indeed, a few challenges come up when having to train workers that are always on the field. Here are two examples:

Reduced access to technology

Technologies optimized for desk jobs don’t integrate with the day-to-day work life of nurses, drivers, waiters, cashiers, or even salespeople on the field.

Technologies optimized for desk jobs don’t integrate with the day-to-day work life of nurses, drivers, waiters, cashiers, or even salespeople on the field. These deskless workers need access to technology that they can access while doing their jobs. This means companies must invest in compatible training technologies and heavily focus on providing deskless employees with mobile learning solutions.

Time constraint

Even “normal” employees have trouble finding time to focus on learning during a workweek. Employees who are always on-site and directly involved with customers have even less time to spend on their development. Workshops or online meetings don’t really work because they steal productive time. If employees join on-site workshops or training sessions, the time they give up will often have to be replaced with double shifts. On top of that, employees on the field are spread apart, so additional travel costs are involved if they have to attend training.

All these reasons suggest companies must find alternative solutions that enable their deskless employees to micro-learn, e.g., in the form of learning nuggets. Learning nuggets are small bites of information that can be accessed at a person's own pace and time. Creating learning nuggets leaves companies with a big pool of compact and clear information sources that learners can individually choose from whenever they have a few minutes.

audvice is the technological solution to overcome these common barriers when training the deskless workforce.

Audvice is the technological solution to overcome these common barriers when training the deskless workforce. With our technological solution, you can record authentic and bite-sized learning content in the form of perfectly structured playlists. These playlists can be listened to from anywhere and at any time directly via the app on your phone.

Not only does audvice solve the problem of access to technology and time constraints but it also enables you to invite the experts in your company to share their knowledge simply by recording a playlist directly on their phone and adding it to your company's audio knowledge base. Audvice turns knowledge into streamlined training episodes (and onboardings, which we will discuss below) with just a few clicks. This also eliminates the need for in-person workshops or meetings because your employees can still get access to personal and authentic content directly from the person who knows best.

Problems with Onboarding

In this year’s The State of Training in the On-Demand Industry report, leaders state that the highest drop-off of deskless employees occurs between activation and completing the first job, trip, or task. But why would people who have successfully completed the onboarding process throw away all the time they spent on it and suddenly quit? It’s because they feel they still lack important knowledge to perform successfully. In fact, 90% of deskless workers felt like the general onboarding experience could be improved, and 84% of leaders, as well as 75% of workers, want to see faster onboarding processes. 23% of employees who quit during the first three months say that a clearer understanding of their role and responsibility would have encouraged them to stay on the job.

If companies want to decrease the high drop-off rate of their deskless employees, they need to give them access to shorter, more powerful, and more engaging onboarding content than their “normal” employees.

Processes need to be fast, but the lack of in-person onboarding needs to be compensated with formats that still allow deskless employees to form an emotional connection with the company and a sense of belonging.

If companies want to decrease the high drop-off rate of their deskless employees, they need to give them access to shorter, more powerful, and more engaging onboarding content than their “normal” employees.

audvice enables you to do all of the above. Playlists consist of bite-sized tracks that you record and structure according to your needs. These playlists are stored in your audio knowledge base that your employees can access directly via the audvice app on their phone or via a web version through their browser.

Also, you can create groups for various onboarding purposes.

Let’s say you’re in the retail industry and want to onboard employees in your stores across different locations. In audvice, you can create different groups for each store and add onboarding playlists to them.

Your deskless employees can then access these groups and fill all of the relevant playlists that they need to listen to in there.

audvice also solves the problem of the lack of personalization of a digital onboarding process. The power of voice allows you to add more emotional context to your onboarding materials than video tutorials or text. Your employees will listen to real people they can connect with and establish an emotional connection to your company right from the beginning.

Lack of Loyalty

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to the digital workforce is the lack of loyalty they have toward the companies they work for. 50% of workers actually report that they don’t feel any sort of loyalty towards their employers. One explanation for that is the perceived distance between headquarters and the employees on the field. Deskless workers are often left in the dark about the things that are happening at headquarters. Naturally, this makes it harder for your employees to feel connected to your company and brand.

No opportunities for feedback

Engagement and recognition play a huge role if you want to assure your employees feel connected to your company. This is where feedback comes in.

44% of employees say they would feel a stronger sense of belonging if they were regularly asked for feedback that was then acted upon.

No company updates

Another thing to consider is that even though your deskless employees aren’t sitting in the headquarters office, and are not as involved in the daily business as your office workers are, they are probably still interested in hearing about strategic decisions, goal achievements, customer segments and changes and shifts when it comes to the organization and culture. So you need to keep them in the loop and share regular updates with them to make them feel valued and part of the whole organization.


A huge factor that companies need to consider is the way they communicate with their deskless employees. They need to implement communication lines that enable direct contact with their employees in an efficient manner. If your employees can’t see you, they want to hear you and be heard. Most deskless employees don’t have access to your corporate internet, a corporate laptop, or corporate phones. That is why you need to give them a voice to increase their perceived value as a part of your organization.

audvice is a communication channel with which you can reach and connect with deskless employees.

The personal touch of voice enables you to share important updates via playlists and to ask for and receive feedback directly from the individual worker. For example, you could create a feedback playlist to which you add an intro track, asking for feedback on a specific topic. Each employee with whom the playlist is shared gets a notification and can add their own track to the playlist. This leaves you with a pool of feedback tracks you can listen to whenever convenient.

This approach to asynchronous communication also prevents misunderstandings due to the personal touch of voice. You don’t have to interpret feedback notes or forms, and you don’t have to spend excessive time on feedback calls.

audvice also makes it really easy to share the company updates we mentioned above. If there are big strategic decisions being taken that affect headquarters and its subsidiaries, you can simply record a playlist, give a compact and authentic update, and pin it on the home screen of your audio knowledge base. As soon as your employees enter the app, they see that there is an important update that they should listen to.

All things considered, audvice is the perfect tool to help companies overcome difficulties when it comes to training and onboarding their deskless employees and making sure they develop a sense of belonging towards your company. If you want to learn more about our audio solution, feel free to try it yourself here.


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