As the workforce evolves, so do the ways in which organizations deliver products and services to customers. For many workers, day-to-day customer service requires traveling to various locations. They’re known as field workers, and they’re an extremely valuable part of industries like construction, agriculture, healthcare, and sales. Let’s dive deeper into who field workers are and why they are so essential to the field service landscape.
What is a Field Worker?
A field worker, also known as a deskless worker, is anyone who works outside of an office or traditional work station.
In the past, a field worker was someone who performed their job in an actual field, such as a farmer. Over time, however, the term ‘field worker’ has expanded to include anyone who travels to different locations to complete their tasks.
The field service evolution—and the technology that drives it—has transformed the way we categorize field workers. Modern field service management goes above and beyond the traditional approach of providing basic tools to address common field service challenges; it focuses on arming deskless workers with innovative tools to improve efficiency and workforce visibility, automate operations, and increase time spent servicing customers.
Because the definition of field workers has changed to encompass myriad roles, organizations must take careful, strategic steps to create and optimize the processes and tools field workers depend on. While field service management focuses on solutions for field workers who service equipment, mobile workforce management empowers those who service people. This distinction is essential as organizations look to gain a competitive advantage in today’s work environment—identifying the focus of your mobile workforce, and the tools that are best for that specific focus, is critical.
Many industries must adapt to support and empower deskless employees so they can remain connected, productive, and efficient. Field workers face unique challenges in their daily work, and thus require unique solutions for success.
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The Importance of Field Workers
FIeld workers are essential to the success of many different types of organizations. A healthcare company, for example, can provide better service to customers if its field workers are prepared to deliver care in more than one location. This has become particularly evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, during which many patients have relied on telehealth, mobile testing sites, drive-through pharmacies, and home health for proper care.
Regardless of industry, deskless workers are the backbone of businesses who rely on face-to-face interactions with customers. Organizations trust them to represent their brand, provide excellent customer service, and drive business goals.
Types of Field Workers
There are different types of field workers, each with different roles, skill sets, and day-to-day responsibilities. Here’s a brief, non-exhaustive overview of who they are:
Some field workers are independent contractors instead of traditional, full-time employees. Organizations hire them on an as-needed, per-project, or per-job basis to go out into the field and complete their work. They usually have valuable skill-sets that enable them to provide specialized services or products.
Repair technicians, for example, fall into this category, as they often conduct services and directly interact with customers but work independently from the business. While they aren’t fully employed by field service organizations, their success depends on their ability to communicate with fixed-location employees and customers, arrive at job sites on time, get accurate information about the job, and easily access up-to-date schedules.
Frontline workers work away from the office, directly with patients or customers. When most people think of frontline workers, they picture nurses, physician assistants, doctors, and other healthcare workers.
In addition to healthcare workers, however, frontline workers might be janitors and maintenance workers, food processing workers, and cashiers at various stores. Protective service workers like policemen and EMTs may also fall under this category.
Home Healthcare Providers
The number of home healthcare providers is increasing as technology evolves to thoroughly support in-home patient services. These deskless employees provide home care for nursing, occupational or physical therapy, speech/language therapy, and more. Some providers, especially nurse aides who have undergone formal training, also assist with medication administration, simple dressings, and mobility devices.
Intelligent technology solutions ensure necessary compliance, match the right provider with the right patient, and provide centralized access to essential customer information—all of which are crucial for supporting these field workers. These solutions can also improve the way healthcare providers are matched to jobs, decreasing last-minute scheduling changes and increasing the chance the worker can complete the job they came to do.
Field sales employees may sell solar panels, windows, security systems, or a wide range of other products. These workers know how to clearly convey the benefits of their company’s offerings and close deals one-on-one with customers. They believe in what they’re selling and know how to rebut common customer concerns.
Since many of them are paid by commissions and/or have quotas to meet, they have an entrepreneurial spirit and deep desire to succeed. They often perform product demos or use various marketing materials to meet their goals, depending on what will work best for a particular prospect.
Because sales representatives are often dispersed between big-box retail locations, industry events, and door-to-door routes, they need powerful tools to streamline communication and scheduling. With the right solution, salespeople can offer better customer service and avoid leaks in the sales funnel.
There are countless nonprofit organizations that depend on volunteers to fulfill their missions. Nonprofit volunteers may spend time at soup kitchens, schools in underprivileged areas, community parks, and other places where they can support a certain cause or help those in need. Skill-based volunteers, like phlebotomists, social workers, and volunteer firefighters, are also included in this category.
Without these field workers, nonprofits would be unable to serve the community, meet their goals, and increase the number of people they serve. Volunteers are essential to their fundraising campaigns, special events, and donor relations efforts.
In order to successfully manage volunteers, organizations must keep them happy and engaged. This task becomes much easier when businesses utilize tools that enable effective recruitment, communication, scheduling, and feedback.
ABA Service Providers
Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) service providers care for children with autism disorders or those with other conditions such as dementia, anxiety, or eating disorders. Through their therapy, patients can improve their social, communication, and learning skills. They conduct services through virtual meetings, schools, doctor’s offices, and patient’s homes. Children and adults depend on ABA service providers to gain the support they need.
Regardless of where ABA therapies are delivered, patients must have consistent, uninterrupted access to their providers, on whom they rely. Empowering these deskless workers with technology that manages their complex schedules, integrates with other essential tools, and maintains client preferences makes all the difference for health service delivery.
Construction workers work, of course, on construction sites. They focus on a variety of tasks like loading building materials, removing debris, mixing concrete, and digging trenches. Construction workers usually have experience operating heavy equipment and tools, excellent balance and hand-eye coordination, and extensive knowledge of building codes. In addition, they can work well individually or in team settings.
Because their job sites present unique risks, construction workers need tools that ensure safety. These tools should help workers verify compliance, check off important safety tasks, share their location with supervisors, verify approvals through photos and signatures, and work with limited or no internet connectivity.
Real Estate Valuators
Real estate valuators travel to different properties to estimate their values prior to a sale. These field workers often have different levels of experience and their services are frequently contracted with strict deadlines and turn-arounds. They’re required to document details through photographs or videos and capture key property details for future reference.
It’s vital that real estate professionals are matched to the right properties based on skill set, and that they’re able to capture and access key information at a moment’s notice. They need technology that ensures safe ‘check-ins’ and ‘check-outs’ on job sites, verifies certification compliance, and offers self-service booking for optimized daily schedules.
Intelligent Software for Field Workers
Field workers are important members of today’s workforce, and the services they provide will continue to shape many industries. They support organizations in a wide array of roles, and the challenges they face require the right technology to help them meet their goals.
Skedulo’s mission is to empower the deskless worker by providing the right technology and tools to make their lives easier. Our mobile-first field service management solution provides this once under-represented part of the workforce the streamlined communication, scheduling, and routing they need—all in one, centralized app.