Before we go into more detail about how a digital workplace can be a huge benefit to Firstline workers, let’s look at who Firstline workers are and what they do.
What does Microsoft mean by Firstline worker?
Firstline workers, also known as front-line, mobile or even deskless workers, are those involved in the daily operations of an organisation. They are the initial point of contact between a customer and your organisation. With many Firstline workers feeling left out of the loop, it’s likely you aren’t up to date on the needs of your customers or even potential business opportunities. Given that these people are the representatives of your brand, surely you want to establish that any of their pain points have been identified and they can do their job to their best ability. Even in this increasingly digital world, full of new technology and automated tasks, it’s crucial not to forget those at the public face of your business.
How you can help your firstline workers
A study, by Microsoft and Forbes, found that 48% of organisations reported that the majority of Firstline workers aren’t digitally connected! So, what could your organisation be doing to ensure this isn’t the case with your employees? Firstly, what Firstline workers want from this digital era is anything that will make their daily work life painless and more streamlined.
The way we work is changing and life is becoming increasingly reliant on mobile devices. To work to their full potential employees should have access to all the company information they need on their personal devices, securely of course. This will lead to your Firstline workers feeling empowered, and also reduce unessential phone calls to managers which will free up more of their time.
Physical notice boards containing pinned down rotas or announcements are outdated and information can easily be missed, ignored or even adjusted. Imagine a life where all this information could be conveniently accessed online, via desktop or a mobile device. Modern intranets allow organisations to do this with great success and ease, especially when they contain enterprise social network tools such as Yammer, collaboration tools such as Teams and the perfect cloud-based scheduling tool StaffHub. By using the right combination of tools employee collaboration and engagement rates can be greatly improved.
Although the return on investing time and technology into Firstline workers can be significant, it’s not always as straightforward as it may seem. One of the main challenges faced is budgetary limitations, as a result, it’s vital to get across how a well-implemented solution will reduce several costs, including IT management, and enable collaboration across your entire organisation.
Once you have found the right technology you can’t just implement it and leave your Firstline workers to get on with it and expect success; it’s so important to include and encourage training on any new platforms and tools. Employees need to really understand how these resources can make their working life easier.
Another challenge with Firstline workers can be a high staff turnover. This means that the cost of regularly providing training to new staff can add up very quickly, on top of the existing costs throughout the recruitment process. High turnover rates can be decreased by establishing your organisation as one that has a modern workplace. Listen to what your Firstline workers have to say, and most importantly don’t ignore the points raised by them. With online forums via enterprise social networks, it gives everyone a voice and a place to be heard.
Don’t opt for a generic approach to empowering your Firstline workers. Every role and sector will require different aids to assist their daily working life. Research is key. Conduct surveys to identify pain points and adjust your technology requirements accordingly. Having the right technology will help to achieve high, fast engagement rates.
What are the benefits of a modern workplace?
Don’t be put off by the challenges though. The benefits to getting your Firstline workers onboard with digital transformation are far greater. According to the previously mentioned study, a third of organisations which have empowered their Firstline workers saw an annual growth of over 20%.
By digitally enabling your Firstline workers you will be encouraging and enabling them to improve not only how their carry out their daily work tasks, but also feedback and communication across all levels of your organisation. Firstline workers are usually the initial people to be aware of any practises which could be improved, or to hear what the customer really wants. By giving them a clear way of communicating, in real-time, any frustrations are removed and potentially, advantages over competitors can be obtained.
Implementing a platform such a customised Intranet is the perfect way to digitally connect your workforce. Here are some examples of how digitally enabling Firstline workers can benefit specific sectors:
- Retail – using applications such as StaffHub allow workers to manage rotas online. Removing the chance of any miscommunications or uncovered shifts.
- Construction – employees working on various site locations can easily share project progression, access health and safety reports, all from mobile devices, anywhere at any time.
- Hospitality – hotel workers can use an enterprise social network platform, such as Yammer, to share guest experiences to identify with colleagues and discuss any areas of improvement.
So, although the IT department might be the people behind technology innovations and implementations in your organisation, don’t forget who changes really affect. Be leaders and empower your Firstline workers, improve their work flow and watch an increase in customer satisfaction and revenue follow.
Check out this short video demonstrating how Office365 products can help communication and collaboration for all workers across your organisation: