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Deskless Workers Deserve Better Tech

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The COVID-19 pandemic has turned traditional office life on its head as desk-based employees prepare for a possible new normal of remote work. As more workers clock in from home, the demand for productivity and collaboration tools has skyrocketed. But as this technical revolution continues to run its course, not all workforces are experiencing the change.

Deskless workers such as field service technicians, home healthcare providers, delivery workers and construction workers make up 2.7 billion people of the global working population. And yet, this workforce is frequently ignored by software companies. These workers often have trouble properly doing their jobs with one-size-fits-all software solutions that need a consistent internet connection and are devoid of mobile-friendly capabilities.

As the pandemic continues, the deskless workforce will only continue to grow — CIOs predict the number of mobile workers will increase by 62% in the next 12 to 24 months.

To support these remote jobs — especially those considered essential during the pandemic. Essential workers are the decision-makers; employers must equip their frontline employees with tools that are built for each individual mobile work role.

Companies that fail to adapt technology to the needs of their deskless and other remote workforce, risk not only poor execution of mobile work services but also the loss of valuable employees.

Inadequate software results in lost productivity

Although there are software development efforts aimed at the mobile workforce, organizations still haven’t invested in these tools at the same rate as they’ve invested in tools for desk-based workers. A recent study found that most organizations continue to rely on legacy tools for mobile work, with only 39% reporting their remote workers use software built for their specific needs. Furthermore, only 13% of these companies say their deskless workers’ needs are met by the platforms designed for them.

While the adoption of software for remote workers has been slow, IT leaders recognize how this inaction has added friction to the mobile workforce. Legacy software tools are complex, and remote workers often need to use more than one tool in their daily workflows.

For example, if a software application isn’t adaptable to mobile, the mobile workforce will require a separate technology to complete a single job — an all too common occurrence for many in the workforce. In fact, 100% of CIOs admitted that their mobile workforce is required to use two or more software solutions in their daily operations, with 18% requiring at least five or more tools.

Eighty-six percent of IT leaders agree that this dearth of supporting technology disrupts mobile workforce productivity.

Another common bottleneck lies in accessibility — IT leaders said 63% of their mobile-remote workers can only use their productivity software if they have access to a computer.

Your mobile workforce is throwing away time, money, and productivity in their struggle to use software tools that aren’t the right fit for their jobs. And the majority of CIOs agree — 67% recognize that they need to support their mobile-phone, remote workers — with additional software.

Instead of stacking software tools on top of each other, businesses must shift their technology to operate under a single process platform.

With a single platform, you can centralize all necessary information and employee resources into one easily accessible, digital thread to empower workers in these worker-roles. By equipping mobile workers with what they need to execute their jobs properly, you can boost output and demonstrate empathy for the challenges they face in the field.

Purpose-built solutions support productivity

Workers in office-based, white-collar jobs can typically count on reliable internet connections as well as colleagues who will fill them in on the details from any meetings they miss. Mobile workers, on the other hand, don’t have the same luxuries — and the resulting disruptions can heavily impede their operational processes. To streamline workflows for your mobile-phone workforce, focus on a handful of crucial workflow capabilities:

  • Data recording: Mobile employees such as service technicians and in-home medical workers are often tasked with extensive administrative work in their day-to-day duties. Consider tools that enable workers to reduce the time they spend on administrative tasks by completing them onsite.With offline access to software tools, deskless workers can take notes while they’re out in the field and focus their time on more important tasks at hand. The time saved also allows workers to complete jobs more efficiently and ultimately drive down costs over time.
  • Schedule flexibility: COVID-19 has made it challenging to consistently schedule staff visits for specialized in-home services, especially if a worker needs a last-minute replacement due to a conflict. While completing service is vital for business, your employees shouldn’t feel guilty for not fulfilling an appointment their schedule doesn’t allow.Workers also shouldn’t be stretched to meet obligations that derail their work-life balance. Solutions with flexible scheduling capabilities help mitigate conflicts by mapping workforce and customer needs in real-time. Real-time tracking also reduces canceled appointments by making it easier to identify replacements for last-minute changes.
  • Consistent connectivity: Deskless workers often lack reliable internet connectivity. For example, wireless internet signals in rural areas — many of which rely on mobile workforce services — typically aren’t as strong as those in more urban areas.Gaps in connectivity can lead to costly setbacks in daily processes for workers in the field and raise safety concerns for in-home appointment services. To keep your mobile workers connected, consider leveraging tools that allow them to access resources online or offline at their convenience. The ability to search for directions, enter data, and correspond with fellow colleagues ensures a consistent workflow with minimal bottlenecks.
  • Employee safety and support: Being constantly on the move with a rigorous schedule can cause many deskless workers to feel burned out on the job. Because of this risk, managers require technology that helps them stay in close contact with mobile employees to ensure they’re heard, have the right protective equipment (especially during the pandemic) and are aligned on proper safety measures. You can also equip your managers with the technology to better navigate their relationships with direct reports. Tools like check-in reminders and mass messages help bolster relationships by connecting deskless workers with management no matter where they may be in the field.
  • Process analytics: As the pandemic has demonstrated, workflow processes can change almost instantly. Analytical tools help your organization pivot and remain agile in today’s fluid operating environment. With access to traditionally disparate field information like the average travel time your deskless workers take from job to job and appointment cancellation rates, you can identify areas for performance improvement.

    Analytics tools can also compartmentalize and export data for third-party reporting projects. Consistently tracking and refining your processes to be more nimble can make your processes more efficient. The process ultimately benefits your deskless workers in the end by improving their work environment and adjusting processes to match their experiences in the field better.


Deskless workers are vital to the success of companies across many industries. While mobile work roles free employees from being tied to a desk, they also come with distinct physical, emotional and digital challenges that desk-based workers don’t face. And when these challenges go unchecked by management, they can create unnecessary stress on deskless employees, resulting in an exhausted workforce and high turnover rates.

As the deskless workforce continues to grow, it’s critical to play closer attention to the software gap. Change begins with applying technology to the specific needs of mobile workers to empower their success now and over the long term. However, a single tool can’t address mobile workforce challenges without proper support.

The right technology must also be accompanied by improved training, access to information, and dedicated employee check-ins to enact true structural change for the better. With these changes in place, you’ll lead your organization on the path towards supporting its deskless, all mobile workers, and the remote workforce, day in and day out.

Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto; Pexels

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Protect and Enable Your Remote Workforce

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With more employees working from home today, it’s becoming harder to protect and enable a geographically distributed workforce. Remote work poses unique security challenges and risks that must be faced by employers. Also, companies must consider individual requirements of their employees workers, from enabling secure and fast Wi-Fi connection to ensuring employees feel engaged and motivated.

To help you mitigate security risks and enable your remote employees to work from the comfort of the homes, we’ve created this step-by-step guide. You’ll find the best remote workforce security practices and proactive measures you can take to keep your remote team engaged.

Step 1. Connect Your On-premises Infrastructure to Cloud

Cloud storage eliminates all data loss risks typically associated with local storage. Also, cloud storage is extremely reliable and safe in terms of data breaches and cyberattacks.

The benefits of cloud storage extend further beyond enhanced security. First off, cloud storage is generally more affordable, because cloud providers distribute the costs of their infrastructure and services across many clients. Also, cloud storage allows you to save more physical space and eliminates the need for hardware maintenance as much of your hardware won’t be necessary.

Another benefit of cloud storage is its mobility. Cloud storage enables us to work efficiently no matter the physical location.

Use cloud or web-based storage software that allows sharing and editing documents. Educate your employees on the benefits of cloud storage and develop guidelines for using cloud services.

Step 2. Review Which Software Your Remote Employees Need

After you’ve decided on your cloud storage policies, review which software your remote employees need to work productively from home. It’s easy to get lost in different types of software for remote work because there are just so many of them. Let us talk you through the most effective types of software your remote employees will need to stay productive.

Remote Desktop Software

The remote desktop software allows you to connect to a computer in another location for business purposes like file transfer, remote control, or desktop sharing. As a bonus, you can use remote desktop software for troubleshooting customer issues.

Group Chat Apps

When working remotely, you want to enable communication between your team members. That’s why you have to choose which team chat app to use unless you want to go all old school with using email for business communications.

Video Conferencing Software

When texting can’t fully replace the magic of human communication needed for productive work, video calls are certainly helpful. Video conferencing makes you feel like you’re in the same room with your co-workers and brings in the spirit of corporate culture essential to stay productive.

Screen recording tools

Sometimes, your employees will need to send screen recordings to each other. Choose screen recording tools that are super easy to use and offer extra features, like built-in annotations.

Additionally, ensure all of your employees have access to particular software they need to do their part of work effectively. Audit the software you use in the office and decide on how to provide easy access for remote employees.

Step 3. Set up Two-factor Authentication

Remote work requires extra security protection as there are more chances of security breaches and data leaks happening. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires users to provide a second piece of evidence (besides a password) before they can successfully log into the account.

Passwords are not sufficient enough to keep our data and accounts safe. Ultimately, 2FA is a second level of protection that helps prevent unauthorized access if the account information has been compromised.

Studies suggest that setting up multi-factor authentication can block over 99.9% of account compromise attacks. This means that two-factor authentication has the potential to bring the chance of stolen credentials within your organization to a minimum.

Step 4. Be Careful Allowing Your Employees to Use Their Personal Devices

Developing policies to address the use of personal devices for work-related purposes is the next step to protecting and enabling your remote workforce.

Experts claim that employees performing everyday work-related tasks on their personal devices present the highest cybersecurity risk. This risk increases dramatically when employers fail to establish policies on how to use personal devices for work-related purposes.

Besides developing and implementing policies and guidelines, you must figure out a way to recover data for departing employees. Let’s say one of your remote workers resigns or gets fired. What then happens to all the files a person has access to and stores on their laptop? Cloud-based storage is a part of the solution. Besides, you’ll have to establish a data recovery policy that works best for your business.

Step 5. Determine which endpoint protection your remote workers must use

After you’ve figured out the rules your remote employees should follow to do their work with the convenience of personal laptops, it’s time to determine the security policies they should follow.

The first thing you should do is identify which security software suits your remote workers must install on their personal devices. As a general security measure, all of your employees must enable the following software:

  • Firewall
  • Antivirus tools
  • Malware detection software
  • Cloud-based storage

Next, educate your employees on the best cybersecurity practices. You can use this list as a reference.

  • Educate your employees on the importance of creating strong passwords/passphrases or using 2FA for work and personal accounts.
  • Educate your remote workers about domain spoofing.
  • Educate your employees about phishing attacks and ways to prevent them.
  • Always use encrypted video conferencing and team chat apps.
  • Educate your remote workers on the importance of regularly installing software updates.

Step 6. Ensure Secure and Fast Wi-Fi

Did you know that 81% of chief information officers report their company experienced a Wi-Fi-related incident in the previous year? Using unsecured Wi-Fi networks increases the chances of security breaches, data leaks, and third-party control. That’s why the next step you should take is ensuring your remote employees have access to a fast and secure Wi-Fi connection.

The easiest solution is requiring your remote employees to use a virtual private network (VPN) when they work from home or, especially, from public spaces. VPN works by routing the device’s internet connection through a private server.

A VPN makes it impossible to track data as it technically comes from a VPN rather than a user’s computer. Remote workers’ connections, the, remain private and anonymous no matter the network you’re using.

You can use VPN to shield one’s browsing activity from cyberattacks, prevent data leaks, and enable safe data transfers.

Step 7. Develop a contingency plan for risk management

Developing a contingency plan is the final step to protecting and enabling your remote workforce. A contingency plan is a fundamental risk management tool as it foresees potential threats and guides remote employees in stressful situations.

For example, in case your remote workers lose their laptop with sensitive work-related information stored on it, a contingency plan is an absolute must. It should describe various situations and step-by-step instructions on how to handle them effectively.

Keeping Employees Motivated in the Work-From-Home Conditions

While many employees are encouraged to work from home at first, this excitement typically wears off over time. Oftentimes, deadlines, and commitments are not enough for motivating remote employees.

How do you keep them engaged and motivated? Experts from Ivory Research suggest that most of the methods you currently employ for your in-house employees can be used to inspire motivation among your remote workers. Here are some simple methods that can be used for keeping your employees engaged in the work-from-home conditions.

  • Recognize remote employees for great work and other contributions.
  • Make sure to clearly communicate tasks you’re expecting to be completed.
  • Give your remote employees access to project updates, mission statement, and company performance records.
  • Bring remote team members together regularly and emphasize the importance of culture within your company.
  • Provide remote workers with time management tools and resources.

The Bottom Line

Remote work doesn’t have to put the security of your organization at risk. Following these steps will help you protect your company from cybersecurity threats while enabling geographically distributed teams to work productively.

Here are the top takeaways.

  • Establishing clear and comprehensive policies is key to securing your remote workforce.
  • Make sure to provide your remote employees with clear guidelines on using their personal laptops for work without posing a threat to the company’s security.
  • Leverage remote collaboration technology, including video conferencing, cloud storage, and group chat apps to enable productive work.
  • Ensure all of your remote workers have access to a secure and fast Wi-Fi connection.
  • And finally, keep your employees engaged and motivated in the work-from-home conditions.

Image Credit: Pexels

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