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The Next Frontier of Digital Transformation: Deskless Productivity

451 Research Business Impact Brief

The 451 Take

Gradual shifts in workforce design are requiring businesses to revisit their productivity strategies, particularly regarding deskless workers—employees who don’t work in a traditional office setting. The growth of flexible and remote work following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has placed a spotlight on work that happens outside of an office, and has subsequently raised questions about how that work—and the productivity of the employees behind it—can be measured.

Improving productivity tools is the top priority in IT-led digital transformation efforts, according to 47% of respondents in 451 Research’s 2019 Voice of the Enterprise: Workforce Productivity & Collaboration, Employee Lifecyle study. It’s also the second-highest strategic focus for HR over next two years, according to 39% of HR respondents in our Employee Lifecycle & HR survey from 2020. Interest in workforce productivity and tooling is trending as the top change in the HR profession’s skill set requirements (47%) over the past three years, as noted in the same survey.

Workforce productivity can also lead to improved customer outcomes. We believe that the employee experience informs the customer experience, and a productive employee experience with the right tools can, in turn, lead to a more compelling and successful customer engagement as employees are able to more effectively leverage the resources at their disposal.

When organizational leaders consider a workforce productivity solution, it can be easy to picture offerings that have focused on workers in a traditional office setting, as many of these products have in the past. However, the makeup of the workforce is changing, and tools increasingly need to account for more temporary, remote and mobile workers. According to our 2020 Employee Lifecycle & HR survey, at least 20% of hiring managers are increasing hiring across contractor positions, while indifferent/positive gig economy sentiment is bringing new models into organizations. As a result of COVID-19, 34% of organizations are freezing hiring, according to our Voice of the Enterprise: Digital Pulse, Coronavirus Flash Survey in March. A mobile-first framework encouraging and embracing telecommuting, telehealth and other themes has taken center stage as the ‘new normal,’ and productivity for these deskless workers is more critical than ever.

Productivity Is the Top Priority in IT-Led Digital Transformation

Source: 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: Workforce Productivity & Collaboration, Employee Lifecyle Q2 2019 (n=639)

Q. In your opinion, what are the main IT-led priorities in digital transformation? (Check all that apply)

Business Impact

Workforce productivity becomes a point of recruitment differentiation.

In our Voice of the Enterprise: Workforce Productivity & Collaboration, Employee Engagement research from 2019, we asked respondents how important it would be for a potential employer to offer productivity tools to help them get their work done. Staggeringly, 91% said it would be important to their decision. We believe organizations should prioritize productivity tools that support work from the planning/scheduling stage through execution as a recruitment tool, as well as an operational one.

Productivity tools emerge as an onboarding standard.

Some 42% of employee respondents to our Employee Lifecycle & HR survey from 2020 took six months or longer to add value at work—26% (the top response) said it took that long because they lacked proper tools and technologies to do their job/be productive. In an effort to speed time to value for employees—especially those outside of the office—organizations should lever-age relevant productivity tools as part of the onboarding program.

Productivity improves employee engagement.

Some 20% of respondents to that same 2020 Employee Lifecycle survey said improved tools and technologies for employees’ daily work would make them more engaged. Engagement can help lead to retention, slowing turnover and lessening hiring costs.

Managing people resources remains a challenge.

Across organizational (26%) and departmental (25%) lines, managing people resources was effectively listed as the top challenge for managing projects and programs in our Voice of the Enterprise: Workforce Productivity & Collaboration, Work Execution Goals & Challenges study from 2020. As workforce populations grow in diversity of role, identity and location, it’s critical that companies adopt a workforce management strategy that accounts for deskless and in-office workers alike.

Looking Ahead

Productivity was a key tenet of digital transformation before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and investment in the tools that power productivity is one of the main moves that organizations are making in response to COVID-19. As much of that work moves outside of the office, however, the future of productivity hinges on tools and technologies that empower employees—wherever they work—with the tools they need to understand and manage their work, balanced with the autonomy to design, author and schedule some of that work themselves.

As many companies are faced with an accelerated time frame for digital transformation, it’s critical that they put the right tool in place to help support a sustained transformation initiative. When considering the key aspects of a productivity tool, the ultimate metric should be the degree to which that tool removes friction in daily work. By removing friction in unstructured work, employees are freed up to be more productive and engaged—in turn empowering them to provide a better experience to the customers they interface with. The employee experience is, and will continue to be, the new customer experience.

About 451 Research

451 Research is a leading information technology research and advisory company focusing on technology innovation and market disruption. More than 100 analysts and consultants provide essential insight to more than 1,000 client organizations globally through a combination of syndicated research and data, advisory and go-to-market services, and live events. Founded in 2000, 451 Research is a part of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

About Skedulo

Skedulo builds deskless productivity software for the 80% of global workers who don’t work in a traditional office setting. From employees in fixed location facilities to mobile field workers on the frontline, deskless workers number 2.7 billion worldwide. DHL, Sunrun, The American Red Cross and hundreds of other organizations have used Skedulo’s Deskless Productivity Cloud to book over 5M appointments worldwide.

To learn more about how Skedulo can provide the tools that empower your deskless workers, book a demo today.