Learning & Development

What Are ‘Deskless’ Employees?

In today’s rapidly evolving workplace, understanding the nuances of different employee classifications is crucial. Among these classifications are the terms “deskless,” “offline,” and “nonessential” employees.

deskless employees

But what do they truly mean, and why are they significant? Let’s delve into the world of these unique workers.

Understanding Deskless Workers

Deskless employees, contrary to what the name might suggest, aren’t merely workers without desks. They represent a vast majority of the global workforce, with an estimated 80% not sitting behind a desk. As highlighted by Computerworld, these individuals, ranging from healthcare professionals to dock workers, often lack the technological tools that their desk-bound counterparts enjoy. Yet, their roles are pivotal in driving industries forward.

Deskless workers differ from remote workers in a key way. While the latter often operates from home or other locations with the aid of technology, the former might not necessarily use a computer for their job roles. This distinction is crucial, as pointed out by The Employee App, emphasizing that deskless workers face unique challenges that are distinct from remote employees.

Challenges Deskless Workers Face

Despite their significant numbers, deskless workers often find themselves at the periphery of technological advancements. Many feel isolated, detached from the company’s core, and unsatisfied with their work. This sentiment was echoed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when a majority expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of additional technology to aid their roles.

Moreover, these workers’ need for flexibility is paramount. Traditional 9-to-5 schedules might not apply to them, necessitating customizable scheduling options to cater to their unique job requirements.

The Shift in Perspective

The pandemic brought about a seismic shift in how businesses view deskless workers. From being the “forgotten workforce,” as noted by Matthew Bragstad of Infor in the Computerworld article, they transitioned to becoming “essential.” Industries that previously overlooked them suddenly realized their indispensable nature, especially when shortages hit sectors like manufacturing and health care.

Technological Advancements for Deskless Workers

Recognizing the importance of deskless workers, there’s a growing interest in technology tailored to them. Businesses are now investing in tools that not only enhance productivity but also ensure these employees’ well-being, from touchless time clocks to health check surveys.

In addition, software solutions are emerging to bridge the communication gap, especially for those without organizational e-mail addresses.

When it comes to scheduling, artificial intelligence (AI)-driven platforms are optimizing workforce deployment, allowing employees to align their availability with schedule demands. Such advancements not only streamline operations but also boost employee morale and satisfaction.

In the grand tapestry of the modern workplace, deskless, offline, and nonessential employees hold a place of prominence. As businesses evolve, it’s imperative to recognize, appreciate, and equip these workers with the tools and respect they rightfully deserve. After all, their contributions are anything but nonessential.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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