Your deskless workforce creates a competitive advantage: This is how you should be engaging them

According to a recent study nearly 80% of the total workforce globally is considered deskless. 

Think about that, 80% of every single worker is not behind a computer screen, even during the pandemic. 

Now consider this: “just 1% of the total investment in communication and productivity is destined to deskless workers. 

Maybe the problem is that you don’t think that you have deskless workers, or maybe you are  trying to use the same tools to engage people behind desks as you are with people that are constantly moving and generating value to your organization. 

Let me tell you something, you do have deskless workers to engage with because they represent your brand with clients, suppliers and other players out there. 

You probably know them by a different name such as sales reps, sales executives… and that is just mentioning roles that involve a sales person. Deskless workers come from very different backgrounds.

 But they all have something in common: They are the competitive advantage of today’s companies around the world. 

I work at Twnel, a company based in Boston that worked during the last couple of years with hundreds of thousands of deskless workers in emerging markets and we realized that we can actually apply what we learned from other workers in the US. 

This is Diana, one of the sales reps in Pereira, Colombia. 

She used to document every single sale on a printed form that would be collected at the end of the week by another person in order to process the sale. 

She is not in real estate so she can’t afford to let time pass by in order to tell the client that everything is ok so that they can book an appointment to install the service. 

Do you know what she sells? 

TV and internet plans. 

And you might think, well it’s Colombia, maybe they don’t have the technology… 

Well, yeap that’s me. 

I came to the US to get my Master’s degree and before she came to work with us at Twnel I had a horrible experience working here in the US doing the exact same job as Diana. 

I would wake up early in the morning and meet somewhere near Malden MA and my “team” would take me and 15 more reps to pop up stands on random Walmarts and best buys to sell internet plans to customers. 

And even though I was in the US, and you could assume that the technology was available, they did the same thing as back in Colombia. 

At 7pm every single day I would go back to the office in Malden and tell my boss how many customers and plans I’ve sold that day. 

¿Do you know what her boss did? 

He would type everything by hand on a spreadsheet. 

I worked there for 1 week. Sounds painfully familiar right?

Despite several differences between emerging markets and US deskless workers face the same problems no matter where they are. 

Reality is: THEY NEED TECHNOLOGY and not regular technology, but technology designed to empower them, designed to provide them with information in real time and capable of interacting with several information systems. (CRMs, TMS, WMS, ERPs) the sky’s the limit…

So now we know that they need special technology tailored to their needs. 

While we worked with deskless workers we discovered something really interesting. 

Every single deskless worker we have worked with during the years, knows and prefers to be texted rather than called. 

Let that sink for a while. 

Is your company forcing your deskless workers to call for help or information? 

If you are doing so you might not just be affecting their productivity but also your company might be perceived as a company that does not care about their deskless workers, which increases the chance of turnover among your team. 

Now you might be thinking, well let’s make them text us then… 

WAIT. 

It’s not that simple, yes they prefer the FORMAT of text messaging but they also need a different channel. Something separate from friends, family and…. Oh dear God, social media. 🙂 

Let’s go back to Diana’s case.. she was used to doing everything on paper and by phone. 

The day she started gathering information (same information that was on her paper formats) on her phone and was capable of sharing that information in real time with her CRM she closed a deal in 30 minutes rather than 2 business days.

That change in effectivity can be attributed to three things: 

  1. The digitalization of a repeatable process 
  2. The use of a familiar tool and format ( her cellphone and texting) 
  1.   The assistance of bots to follow a sequence and gather the information so that information can be uploaded to the CRM in real time. 

Today that company back in Colombia expanded to Ecuador 2 months after they started engaging with their network of distributors. When they realized how valuable deskless workers were. 

Don’t let down your competitive advantage, recognize them, empower them, engage with them and you will see your business grow. 

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