We are pleased to share our most recent research report titled, The State of Deskless Work: Q4 2021 Research Report—Deskless Productivity: Overcoming the Autonomy and Empowerment Barriers.
As part of the extended community of frontline workers and the teams that support them, you likely already know how important—and challenging—deskless work is. But did you know that deskless workers outnumber desk-based workers across the globe four-to-one? Or that most organizations anticipate their mobile workforce to grow over the next year?
Meanwhile, we are entering an age of unprecedented worker empowerment due to a confluence of factors ranging from increasingly competitive talent markets, a growing “free agent” mentality among skilled mobile workers, and the allure of flexible employment options courtesy of the gig economy. The criticality of retention and cost of attrition for employers with mobile workers has never been greater.
This report will serve to illustrate both our challenging current state and the opportunity in front of us. Many of today’s deskless workers are largely deprived of autonomy, ill equipped to handle increasingly dynamic and complex work environments, and face leadership that continuously prioritizes alternative investment areas.
Deskless work is highly dynamic
We found that 92% of organizations report their deskless workers’ jobs are regularly cancelled, distributed across many locations, composed of many different work types, each requiring a specific set of worker skills, attributes, and formal certifications.
Organizations with a high volume of deskless workers lag behind in digital transformation
Only 6% of respondents rely entirely on digital processes for deskless work, while 44% of organizations rely on paper-based processes half of the time or more.
Deskless workers lack autonomy and control
Only 6% of organizations feel their deskless workforce is “very autonomous”, while less than one-in-ten deskless workers have “a high degree” of control over their schedule and nearly one-in-three have low or limited control.
While the value of autonomy is recognized, the employee experience ranks low among strategic priorities
This study found 97% of organizations agree increased employee autonomy would improve retention, client satisfaction, performance, and market share, with nearly one-in-six respondents strongly agreeing. However, improving employee experience and empowering mobile workers ranked lowest among strategic priorities for respondents.
The Deskless Productivity Opportunity
In the face of these findings, we have a chance to empathize with the rigorous nature of deskless work, the challenges deskless workers face, and begin to recognize the deskless productivity opportunity—to drive towards a world in which deskless workers are empowered with autonomy, technology that complements and extends the capabilities of deskless workers, and where organizations take a more deliberate approach to building an employee experience that increases retention, improves client satisfaction, and ultimately differentiates service providers in the marketplace.
Many organizations are experiencing a growing pressure to simplify working life for valuable employees and equip them with the best resources. To unlock the deskless productivity opportunity, innovative firms are increasingly making investments in their employment brand, reevaluating their value proposition to prospective hires and current employees, and assessing the digital toolbelt they arm deskless workers with.
Our hope is that this report serves as a springboard for reflection and dialogue within your organization, a reference point for conducting your own internal research, and a catalyst for a more productive, positive, and impactful state of deskless productivity.
Read the full report
Overcoming the Autonomy and Empowerment Barriers