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A Deskless Workforce: The Roles and Responsibilities of a Manager

Managers: they’re the biggest influencers in your business. It’s their role and responsibility to ensure that their teams are happy, productive, and growing.

With the workplace seeing many changes over the past few years, managing this can become difficult. One, for instance, is the continual rise of the deskless worker. Let’s take a look at what a deskless worker is, why they’re at risk, and the responsibility of those who manage a deskless workforce:


What is a deskless worker?

A deskless worker, also commonly referred to as a frontline worker, is an employee who doesn’t have a designated office or work environment, including those who work in mobile, remote environments away from the traditional office. Making up 80% of the global workforce, you can find deskless workers in any role and industry, including technicians, managers, sales teams, construction workers and service workers. There’s now even an increasing number of knowledge workers who are also going deskless.


Why deskless workers are more at risk

‘Out of sight, out of mind’ may be a harsh way to phrase it, but on the other hand, it can ring true. Because many deskless workers are more than just a click away, they are often excluded from company communications, performance management programmes, and learning opportunities. The chances are that many deskless workers are overlooked and feel underappreciated as a result.

A deskless worker’s day-to-day can be impacted by:

  • Limited communication. With workers on site, perhaps with limited access to technology or on different shifts, people can get almost ‘forgotten’ about and, therefore, miss out on key information that is important to their role and business.
  • Restricted access to learning. Because the deskless workforce has less access to technology and, therefore, communication, they also have fewer resources and tools to learn, develop, and do their jobs.
  • High turnover. With 43% of deskless workers currently looking for a new job, the high turnover rate can increase an individual’s workload, leading to stress, low morale, and an overall lack of motivation.
  • Poor career development. 48% of deskless workers do not feel they have an opportunity for career growth. With dynamic work schedules and environments, it’s not easy to prioritise professional development and employee reviews. This leads to decreased career focus and even motivation among deskless workers, causing low productivity and retention.
  • Less than optimal employee experience. Overall, a lack of communication, a drab work environment, no future career planning or support or access to resources can seriously affect a worker to the point that their overall experience is, well, bad.

Despite all this sounding rather depressing, you need your deskless workers to thrive and allow your business to grow. So, what’s the solution?

The manager!


What can a manager do to support their deskless workers?


1. Get to know their team

Managers must take the time to get to know their staff to ensure every individual receives recognition in a way that best suits them and is meaningful. This can be done through regular catchups, such as a weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly 1:1. In fact, more than 28% of workers said that 1:1 support from their manager contributes to their overall success and happiness at work. Check-in with them to understand how they are, chat about their personal lives, keep them updated with important communications, discuss any successes and challenges, find out their aspirations, and, most importantly, understand what you can do as their manager to ensure they’re fully supported.

When leaders take the time to understand their people, especially those such as deskless workers who receive less interaction on a daily basis, the individual will feel a greater sense of belonging and fulfilment. This also means that there’s a 350% greater chance they’ll choose to stay with their employer another year.


2. Ensure adequate access to technology

Shockingly, only  23% of deskless workers have access to the technologies they need to do their jobs!

Deskless workers span a wide spectrum of different roles, industries, and abilities, so we know it’s not always easy to access or provide different technologies. However, a company email address is key to ensuring a deskless worker is always updated with key company information and can contact anyone organisation-wide if they need their support.

Access to a company device such as a laptop or mobile phone is also a great way to increase communication and allow the deskless worker to complete important training, such as compliance. It may seem like an expense, but the rewards, including a high compliance rate, increased productivity due to improved communication, and an overall happier and more motivated employee, are surely worth it.


3. Development programmes

Your deskless workers need regular check-ins and communication with managers to discuss matters such as performance, goal-tracking, and career aspirations. This way, your workforce has a clear understanding of the career path ahead of them at your company, motivated by the support and genuine interest of their business leaders. To take it that step further, managers also need to prioritise performance reviews. With performance management software, setting up and completing reviews has never been easier. Perform enables you to monitor performance continuously throughout the year, provide feedback, goal tracking, and create flexible reviews. Allowing both manager and employee to provide feedback and plan for growth, development has never been easier.

What’s more? With Kallidus, managers and employees are never surprised at performance review time. The objectives are synced with day-to-day progress and development so that when the time comes to complete a quarterly review, team members know exactly how far they have come, and the manager knows, too.


4. Make learning a priority

While 30% of employers claim to provide education or training beyond the confines of the workplace, a mere 12% of deskless employees report having access to such opportunities.

The manager should encourage a culture of learning and growth with both their desk and deskless workers. Why? Prioritising learning for deskless workers can increase their job efficiency and career skills, leading to a more dynamic and stronger workforce. However, to achieve this, managers must provide employees with easy access to learning opportunities, such as eLearning, webinars, and workshops, to support their growth.


But how can a manager ‘easily’ do this with their dispersed workforce?

Invest in an LMS.


Kallidus makes learning and development easy so that employees, managers, and L&D teams can deliver growth for your business. Learn LMS is our award-winning, user-focused LMS that allows you to deploy, manage, track, and report on all types of learning. It allows your people to complete essential training while driving self-led learning. The platform makes it easy for learners to learn, but it also makes it easy for managers to develop their learners and forge a culture of development throughout the business.


To learn more about how your managers can support your deskless workforce, speak to the team at Kallidus.

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Written by Claire Moloney

Claire is an enthusiastic and meticulous content writer whose passion is to support growth and continual learning for everyone.


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