Approximately 80% of the global workforce is deskless. Creating a workplace culture that thrives on transparent, regular and two-way communication to these workers could be a way for employers to stand out from the crowd. In a tight labour market, improving organisation-wide communication should be a top priority.
Ensuring your corporate communication flows to all levels of your business gives your deskless workers access to need-to-know critical information, like changes to rosters or company policies. Importantly, it can also create a better employee experience, leading to higher productivity and a more profitable business.
If you employ or manage deskless or frontline workers, investing in communication solutions designed to meet their needs can help your teams stay connected and foster a great company culture.
What main communication challenges can a manager face when supporting a deskless workforce?
In the rapidly-evolving globalised world, traditional internal communication methods – such as onsite staff meetings – aren’t suited to the needs of deskless workers. As managers grapple with finding new ways to communicate with teams working across different times and locations, miscommunication – or people missing out on critical comms altogether – can become an issue. This can be especially problematic in industries that rely heavily upon accurate, timely communication, such as healthcare.
COVID-19 added extra barriers to traditional communication and created a wider deskless workforce
Furthermore, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of good internal communication. For example, employers needed to quickly find and disseminate new information about COVID-safe regulations. For industries with deskless workers, putting posters up in the employee common room was not an option. Employers needed digital communication solutions to give deskless workers access to vital information.
In the contemporary workforce, lessons from the pandemic continue to apply. Businesses that ambitiously reinvent strategy, technology and organisational goals can expect tremendous pay-offs.
Deskless workers can get lost in corporate environments
Another challenge for employers of deskless workers is that people on the same shifts or teams might have never actually met or have very little contact time together – or with their managers and team leaders.
This can lead to a lack of connection between colleagues, misunderstandings, or even an entire breakdown in communications. Research has highlighted the communication problem with deskless workers, with only 10% feeling strongly connected to their companies.
Corporate communication can be further complicated if part of your team is office based and the other part are deskless. Important messages can easily get lost in transit if some of your staff aren’t present when they are delivered. The deskless worker can also miss team bonding time. Similar problems can occur if you have hybrid workers who blend time in the office with working from home.
Upper management have less contact time with deskless workers
Additionally, communication issues can stem from C-suite management and senior staff spending less time interacting and communicating with deskless workers. As a result, they may feel forgotten, lost in the system, and inconsequential to the wider scheme of the business.
This issue has been highlighted in research showing that while 72% of deskless workers say communication from top-level management is important to them, 84% don’t receive enough of it. Significantly, this study found that lack of communication was interpreted as a lack of respect. Deskless workers felt they weren’t valued enough by leaders to be kept in the loop and didn’t have a voice to express their concerns or innovative ideas.
How to communicate better with your deskless workers
There is a positive side to the deskless workforce communication dilemma. Organisations who prioritise great communication – and give their teams the tools to achieve it – can benefit from happy employees, greater productivity, and the ability to deliver consistently high customer service.
Here are three ways to enhance your internal communication.
1. Implement a platform which brings all HR and operations management together
The deskless workforce needs contemporary solutions built for employees working across different shifts, locations and even time zones. Modern workforce management software platforms are designed to cater for this.
Many have inbuilt communication solutions with cloud functionality that enables teams to maintain communication from a mobile phone or other internet-enabled device. Humanforce, for example, has an easy-to-use mobile app that gives teams instant access to key information like rosters and shift changes.
It incorporates two key features purpose-built to enhance internal communication:
- The “chat” function – this feature allows managers to chat one on one with an employee. Employees can also message other employees directly.
- The “notifications” function – this notification feature enables managers or administrative team members to broadcast information to a larger group of people. Employees can respond to chats but can’t respond to notifications.
These features make it easy for teams to communicate about shifts, rosters and payroll with their managers, reducing administrative load for everyone. In turn, this alleviates workplace stress and reduces the risk of miscommunications resulting from long email chains or scattered messaging.
Furthermore, it brings people together and facilitates smooth interactions between all employees. For example, the app can be used to welcome new members to the team.
Senior staff can oversee all communications, which enhances visibility over what’s going on in your company while helping employees feel seen and heard. For example, managers can see high performance, facilitating better recognition of great work.
2. Digital software means everything is recorded digitally
Another challenge with traditional face-to-face corporate communication is its ability to be misinterpreted and forgotten. Miscommunication can lead to issues like late starts, missed shifts and payroll issues. Not only does this create more administrative work, but it can also lead to staff frustration and poor service delivery.
Digital workforce management software solves this problem by recording all communications and enabling real-time updates. For example, roster changes can be communicated with a couple of clicks, and team members can easily arrange shift swaps via their mobile device.
Giving your deskless employees quality tools enables them to do their jobs effectively. Importantly, employees who are highly satisfied with their workplace technology are less likely to take sick leave and more likely to be engaged at work and recommend your business.
3. Implement a company-wide communication strategy that includes your deskless workers
Many office teams use tools such as Slack, WhatsApp, Asana, and other communication platforms to enjoy funny banter and team-building chats. Managers use these tools to reach out to team members, make sure they feel included, and recognise their work and company involvement.
Frontline, shift-based and deskless workers, however, often miss out on these opportunities. In addition to digital tools that support internal communication, other ways you can strengthen workplace culture and help all your workers enjoy connecting include:
- Running company-wide events or competitions that don’t require attendance, such as an online ‘match the baby photo to the employee’ contest
- Organising online events such as lunches, morning teas or after-work drinks. Be creative with helping team members get to know each other. For example, have each person talk about their favourite movie, song, book, performer, or quote
- If your employees are from the same geographic area, arrange a family fun day or participate in an event, such as a fun run or team sport
- Organising a team fundraiser for a charity
Communicate for success
Remember, great communication is about more than getting information out to your team. It fosters a culture of respect and positivity by reassuring employees that they are a valued part of your business. Organisations who implement effective communication solutions for their deskless workers stand to enjoy greater productivity and a reputation for being a great place to work.
Humanforce is a leading provider of shift-based workforce management solutions that simplify onboarding, scheduling, time and attendance, employee engagement, and communication. Customers in more than 23 countries use Humanforce to optimise costs, realise compliance confidence, empower their team, and drive growth. Humanforce was founded in Sydney in 2002, and today has offices across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK. www.humanforce.com