Mobile business software growth has ignored deskless workers, study finds

Eighty percent of the modern workforce operates on the front line or in the field, and digital transformation has ignored their needs.

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Image: primipil, Getty Images/iStockPhoto

The digital transformation that has given us software for easy remote work and virtual collaboration is only designed for 20% of the workforce. The other 80%, a study finds, is being largely ignored by new digital tools

Software company Skedulo performed its study by polling CIOs from companies across industries, and it found that deskless workers—field technicians, retail workers, healthcare professionals, construction workers, and other front-line professionals—are being overlooked and are suffering for it.

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"Many companies anticipate deskless work will increase in prevalence given the remote working

economy, it is becoming increasingly clear that deskless workers are facing one major challenge that desk workers do not: The availability of software built specifically with their deskless needs in mind," the report said.

Sixty-two percent respondents said they expect the number of deskless or mobile workers at their companies to increase in the next two years. Currently, 57% said their organization is composed of 11-25% deskless workers, with 19% saying they employ 26% or more. 

Deskless workers need software tools that allow them to do their jobs well, Skedulo said. The tools those workers need include scheduling, time tracking, job details and job site navigation, client files, service reporting, and communication. 

Eighty-six percent said their companies would benefit from a dedicated platform with those functions that was designed with deskless workers in mind, which makes perfect sense in light of another surprising statistic from the study: 100% of respondents said their deskless workers are challenged by "the complexity and capabilities of tools they're expected to use in their daily work."

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The software that deskless workers are using isn't only complex: Because it's generally not designed with their needs in mind it typically doesn't function well in the field. Sixty-three percent  of respondents said their deskless workers only have access to their full suite of productivity tools when they have access to a computer. For a mobile technician, healthcare worker doing their rounds, or a retail worker on the floor of a store, having to pause to find a computer can be a major interruption to their workflow, and is likely behind the 86% of respondents who said their deskless workers have their productivity hindered by their software tools. 

As with many reports of this kind, Skedulo is a company that provides the software that would address many of the concerns highlighted by its survey respondents. Whether or not your organization chooses to address the concerns of deskless workers with Skedulo software is up to you, but the numbers in this report, if accurate, reflect a concern that organizations shouldn't ignore.

Deskless workers often make up the frontline, and nearly half of them (43%) are being forced to juggle three or more software tools to do their jobs. Lost productivity caused by problems like that leads to a snowball effect for organizations where deskless workers make up a large portion of the workforce, and some sort of better tool is needed for businesses to re-capture that lost time.

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