Mobility of Frontline Workforce: Why Your Field Employees Need Mobile Devices

  • November 7, 2019
Why your field force needs digital devices
Why your field force needs digital devices

Enterprise mobility created a seismic shift in the way businesses and organizations operated, engaged and grew in the 21st century. As businesses embraced the commencement of digital devices and technology for the optimization of operations of the knowledge workers, most organizations have still ignored the largest section of their workforce- the frontline workers, for digitization. While empowering the knowledge workers with the latest devices is imperative for businesses to stay ahead in the game, most companies have their frontline digitization strategy still into transition or almost vague as if non-existent. This is ironic, since the importance of frontline employees is undeniable.

Frontline Employees: A critical piece of the puzzle

Across industries, the frontline employees comprise the subset of a workforce that directly deals with the customers, being the first point of contact for clients. They essentially are at the front of the line, impacting business growth driven through the company’s branding, user experience and customer relations. Frontline employees are not just the customer-facing employees but also the field force that operates out of various locations, accomplishing several mission-critical tasks that cumulatively amount to a finished product. 

Frontline workers comprise the most effective workforce in a business, often being more critical to the organization than the knowledge workers because they easily outnumber them. If an organization ignores the pertinent need for mobility of the frontline employees, it can cause serious repercussions not only to the company’s positioning but also in the net productivity & revenue.

Photo by sol on Unsplash

Imagine walking into a clinic with toothache only to find the healthcare worker unsupportive of your situation. Or calling up a customer support center only to find out that the company representative doesn’t have up-to-date knowledge of the product they’ve sold. 

Or, think of logistic executives haphazardly using company vehicles for personal work or assembly line workforce unaware of any system changes and manufacturing a huge pile of products that are not up to the company standards. 

The business impact of such mediocre customer experience or improper business decisions is obvious and negative. Companies not focussing their spends on the mobility of their field force is because of the lack of awareness of the challenges faced by frontline employees and the incognizant approach towards the importance of digital devices for the frontline workforce.

Lack of engagement: A prime obstacle

Hierarchy in an organization pushes the frontline executives to the bottom line of the pyramid. And even if an organization tries to maintain a flat structure, it is not necessarily inclusive of the frontline employees. Frontline employees can be away from the traditional work perimeters, might operate in shifts when the other employees of the company are not available and often are missed out on the radar of the human resources and development teams. According to a study by staffbase¹ , more than 75% of the workforce today is frontline and 85% feel they are left out of the loop. 

As per a study by Gallup² , only 34% of workers in the United States feel engaged in the jobs and this is a statistic for the total nation-wide workforce where frontline workers contribute to the majority of the numbers. Disengagement of frontline employees leads to severe productivity imprints. Listening to frontline employees not only promotes workplace collaboration but also opens up serious business avenues, since these frontline workers are in direct contact with potential customers, understand the core value delivered by your business and how it is received on the customer’s end. Regular exchange of ideas with frontline workers can improve their engagement, also augmenting their motivation. Harvard business review suggests that frontline workers rank the lowest in motivation, hence connecting them with the knowledge workers, the human resources and the management can help enhance their motivation levels, in turn contributing to business growth.

Facilitating the frontline workers with mobile devices is hence a compelling measure to improve the communication, collaboration and engagement of frontline employees. Mobile devices pave the way for unified communications with frontline employees, keeping them connected, engaged and motivated. 

Further reading: Whitepaper on Frontline Worker Enablement

Mobile devices: key reasons to include frontline workers in mobility

Portability & Availability 

To begin with, mobile devices usher in portability and location independence, giving the ability to the frontline workers to move while accomplishing their tasks. When they are not sticking to the desk, these employees can get more things done. In a warehouse, for instance, the inventory manager can examine the inventory and update it promptly with the help of tablets, instead of moving back and forth to a desktop or worse, doing it manually. Mobile devices make the operations of frontline employees system independent, delivering functionalities quicker than a desktop. 

Portability among retail frontline employees helps them to solve the customer’s challenges such as helping the customer in exploring the offerings on a tablet, checking the availability of a product in different sizes instantaneously. Further, if these employees are facilitated with mPOS systems, they can close sales at a faster rate.

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

According to a report by PwC³ , 73% of people consider customer experience as an important factor while making purchase decisions. The use of mobile devices can help improve the customer experience, by extending customer support at all times and almost right away. More so, with mobile devices, the availability of the frontline employees can be banked upon since they have constant access to business resources.  

Learning & development 

The adoption of mobile devices facilitates instant access to contextual business data and resources which the frontline employees can use for maintaining up-to-date business knowledge. Delivering training material, improvised business strategies and developmental resources to the frontline workers is eased out by mobile devices. This helps in furthering frontline workforce engagement and productivity. Frontline employees can have access to the latest business resources

Optimized operations

Mobile technology transforms the business operations in multiple stretches, increasing net revenue and productivity. Mobile applications can optimize the operations reducing the tedious manual work, and by placing regular checks and alerts, manual errors can be eliminated. Mobile devices help in capturing real-time data of business inventory, employee efficiency, customer satisfaction and several other business metrics. The use of digital devices eradicates the need for cumbersome paperwork, manual maintenance of records and helps in refining business processes. This leads to heightened productivity and efficiency. For instance, in a manufacturing unit is equipped with mobility, locking data into systems, recording and sharing knowledge base with other employees, quickly assessing system parameters, reporting malfunctioning is quick, easy and independent of legacy systems, meaning any frontline employee can accomplish critical tasks.

Photo by Goh Rhy Yan on Unsplash

When companies go mobile, it is important to include the frontline workers in the mobility radar to reap the above-mentioned benefits. Extending mobile devices to frontline employees and managing them with a mobile device management tool can further enhance the results of mobility.

Empower your frontline workforce with mobile devices and manage them with Scalefusion MDM for frontline workers.

Resources & Links
1. staffbase.com
2. gallup.com
3. pwc.com
Renuka Shahane is a Sr. Content Writer at Scalefusion. An engineering graduate, an Apple junkie and an avid reader, she has a 5+ years of experience in content creation, content strategy and PR for technology and web based startups.

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