Applications aimed at helping office workers do their jobs more effectively in a remote or hybrid work environment — such as videoconferencing, project management, and other collaboration software — have surged during the pandemic era. But many employees don’t spend their workdays sitting at a desk.
Employees who work away from a desk in such verticals as healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, service and repair, transportation, logistics, construction, utilities, and retail are usually referred to as frontline workers. Many of these workers act as the “faces” of their organizations, coming into direct contact with customers; others perform the behind-the-scenes tasks that keep the modern world humming.
Companies in these and other industries have considerably more frontline workers than employees working from their desks. According to Gartner, there are approximately 2.7 billion frontline employees worldwide — more than double the number of desk-based workers. Rather than throw even more apps at their deskbound workers, companies are now turning to software tools meant to assist their deskless workforce.
Because many frontline workers don’t have company-provided computers and may not have access to their companies’ intranets, these tools typically take the form of mobile apps that they can use on personal or company-provided phones, tablets, or wearable devices.
Moving beyond job-specific apps
“Historically, these apps have been very job-specific or industry-specific,” said Andrew Hewitt, senior analyst at Forrester Research. For example, airports have deployed smart restroom apps that use sensors to count how many people have entered a restroom. When a certain number of individuals — say, 300 — have entered, the system sends a text message or email alert indicating that it’s time to clean that restroom to custodians who monitor those alerts via their tablets or smartwatches.
“We’re in the second phase now, moving beyond dedicated job-specific functions to broader employee engagement,” Hewitt said. These newer tools, many of which could span any industry, aim to enhance collaboration and communication, build a sense of community, and make frontline workers feel more valued and connected to their organizations. “We [also] see frontline worker applications offering capabilities enabling workers to manage time off, manage their shifts, or get information about their pay,” he added.
Frontline workers typically don’t have the same technology experience as desk-based workers, said Mike Gotta, vice president, analyst at Gartner, who covers the communication and collaboration space.
“Therefore, they may feel out of the loop and that they don’t know what’s going on [within their organizations],” Gotta said. “So companies deploy apps to their frontline workers that combine internal communications and HR [information] such as benefits, payments, and shift schedules so these…
Post from www.computerworld.com