Three reasons why your deskless workers shouldn’t remain voiceless

by Luke McNeal

Earlier this year, we published our Deskless not Voiceless report. Now we’re back with new data from Australia, India, and Japan. Check out the results and learn why you need to connect your deskless workers more than ever before.

Our first Deskless not Voiceless report in May 2019 highlighted the disconnect between deskless workers and their managers, along with some significant business communication challenges.

Today, our new survey1 of almost 4,000 managers and deskless staff in businesses across Australia, India, and Japan brings home the global scale of the problem. Here are some of the key findings.

Communication failures are stifling innovation from deskless workers at the frontline of business

Deskless workers are often at the frontline of your business. They’re on the shopfloor, in factories, out in the field, in the air and on the road. This gives them the kind of unique insight you can’t get from sat at a desk in the head office. But how can you hear their suggestions if they don’t have a voice?

"74% of deskless workers believe there are barriers to communication at work."

Our survey shows that 74% of deskless workers believe there are barriers to communication at work. That means local teams can’t talk or work together effectively - 25% of these people don’t even feel connected to their teams on the ground. It’s worse when there’s no way of engaging - or sharing ideas - with business leaders.

The data demonstrates that organizations are losing valuable ideas because of this. In Australia alone, as many as 29% of employee ideas are lost because of broken communication. That’s a lot of potential going to waste.

The disconnect between managers and deskless workers is damaging your culture

For managers, understanding what’s happening on the frontline is essential to their job. But too many of them are removed from day-to-day work away from HQ. Only 62% of managers have taken the time to visit deskless workers on the frontline of their businesses in the past year. Fourteen percent of them don’t even see the value in doing so.

This can lead to disengagement - 34% of deskless staff say they don’t feel empowered to share ideas. And when you dig into that statistic, it reveals a lot about the damage disconnection can cause to company culture.

"34% of deskless employees don’t feel empowered to share ideas."

Deskless workers often think there’s little point trying to share ideas because nothing ever changes. Forty-two percent of them believe nobody listens, and they describe management as uncaring or unsympathetic.

Remember: these workers are often the face of your business. Build up too much negative sentiment here - where you need positivity the most - and it could be seriously damaging for your organization.

Failure to provide even basic tools makes the day job harder

Our survey shows that managers and deskless staff still see the world differently. Nowhere is this disconnect more evident than on the issue of digital tools. Eighty-five percent of managers believe they give deskless workers the right digital tools to connect, collaborate, and do their jobs - but only 32% of employees agree.

"Only 32% of deskless staff agree they have the tools they need to do their jobs."

This doesn’t refer to shiny new platforms. It’s the basics: 40% of deskless workers don’t have access to any kind of collaboration tool. Many don’t even have access to an email address or a phone.

The benefits of a connected company

So what can you do?

It starts with connecting people. When you connect people and give them a voice, you empower them. And when you empower them, you don’t just change the way they work - you can change the way they feel about work.

Connected companies are more open and transparent. They have stronger cultures, more efficient teamwork, and they thrive on company-wide conversation, not just announcements.

Focusing on your deskless workers is a natural first step. By giving them the right tools, you’ll help them feel closer and more connected to your organization. And you’ll enable them to have better and more meaningful conversations with business leaders. Because your deskless workers might not have a desk, but they should have a voice.

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Learn more. Download the full Deskless not Voiceless report right here.

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