Deskless Workforce and Technology Study: Massive Tech Gap Still Exists

A recent study on deskless workforce and technology use revealed that many deskless workers are still provided with dated devices and solutions designed for their desk-bound counterparts.
deskless workforce and technology

The deskless workforce makes up a majority of the global workforce. Field service management workers, onsite engineers, drivers, equipment operators, and field service technicians are among those that comprise this majority. However, a recent study by Emergence on deskless workforce and technology use revealed that many deskless workers are still provided with dated devices and solutions designed for their desk-bound counterparts.

That vast chasm that divides deskless workers from true deskless technology still exists, even as technology has rapidly progressed and the deskless workforce population continues to grow. But by building awareness of the deskless workers’ impact on business goals, organizations across industries have committed to ramp up their investment in deskless tech. The status quo is about to change.

The Divide Between Deskless Workforce and Technology

Despite numbering around 2.7 billion people, or approximately 80% of the global workforce, deskless workers are way behind in terms of technology wholly dedicated for the use cases. In fact, 75% of deskless professionals all over the world are still using technology designed for their desk-based counterparts.

That is just one of the major findings highlighted in The State of Technology for the Deskless Workforce, a report published by Emergence Capital, a venture capital firm that backs early and growth-stage cloud tech and SaaS enterprises.

The Emergence deskless workforce and technology study aims to shine a bright light on the glaring need to provide non-desk workers with their own dedicated technology, emphasize the growing value and impact of the deskless workforce,  and empower enterprises to commit to giving them the technology they need.

Dissatisfaction With Current Tech

Almost all deskless workers are mobile. Deskless employees are found in essential industries including construction, healthcare, education, retail, and transportation. They rarely find themselves behind a desk. Still, the majority of employers equip their deskless workers with unideal, desk-bound technology.

  • 83% of the deskless employees who participated in the Emergence study said they were provided with desktops and laptops.
  • Another 65% said employers failed to equip them with additional technology during the pandemic, driving down their productivity and efficiency.

This prevailing setup has left 60% of deskless employees dissatisfied with their employers and believes there is a large room for improvement. The Emergence report finds the following top factors for dissatisfaction:

  • 44% say they work with slow and outdated software and tools.
  • 20% report their current technology is inefficient.
  • 14% find their tech is not intuitive, non-friendly to users.
  • 14% say they can’t use their business applications on their mobile devices.
  • 12% say they can’t collaborate with the tech solutions provided.

Closing The Gap

The Emergence deskless workforce and technology report discovered that many deskless workers have taken steps to close the technology gap themselves. 56% of the respondents said they already used unsanctioned/unauthorized technology to accomplish their tasks.

More than half (53%) turned to consumer-grade apps while 32% proactively looked and acquired their own hardware and software to simplify and accelerate their jobs. Another 22% learned about these technologies through a colleague.

That said, organizations are making strides toward the right direction. Almost 60% of respondents reported being given a smartphone or tablet by their employers. Newer tech such as smartwatches and drones, are starting to emerge, with 8% of deskless workers using them for work.

Deskless Tech: Decisive Factor

The 2020 deskless workforce and technology report by Emergence found that 78% of deskless workers now consider a company’s deskless capabilities when choosing a job.

This figure should empower business organizations, particularly in deskless-heavy sectors, to include deskless tech as one of their goals to address the rising costs of recruitment and onboarding, as well as the negative impacts of high turn-over rate.

The deskless workforce is expected to grow exponentially as more businesses adopt remote work policies and industries shift to a more deskless-friendly model. This means enterprises need to pursue and invest in deskless tech if they look to attract and retain deskless professionals.

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