Nomadic Desklessness

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Empowering Telecom Workers in the Field —

Across the globe, there are approximately 2.7 billion people working in the field. These deskless workers make up an astonishing 80% of the global workforce. However, despite their importance, these workers are often underserved and ill-equipped. They are forced to make do with tools applications designed for the desk-bound employee.

Telecommunications is a prime example of a sector that needs to do more for its deskless workforce. In the US, there are almost 700,000 deskless workers currently employed by telecom organizations. Most of these workers are installers and technicians who set up, maintain, and monitor, telecom facilities and features, as well as report to multiple sites for repairs.

Despite employing such a large number of non-office workers, the telecommunications sector is cited among those industries where deskless technology is not a top priority. Why this oversight? And how can companies correct this error?

DESKLESS WORKERS LACK THE RIGHT TOOLS

Telecom companies are obligated to deliver continuous and constant connectivity and communication services to their consumers. To meet this perpetual obligation, companies must rely heavily on their deskless workforce to perform proactive network administration and management, schedule preemptive maintenance checks, and execute corrective repairs immediately.

Given the numerous stress and failure points that exist in a typical telecom network, engineers and technicians must constantly patrol, monitor, and maintain, their transmission equipment and optical cables to ensure uptime. It’s crucial for field technicians and engineers to quickly identify which of their facilities and locations are looking problematic and require immediate attention and resolution.

THE POWER OF TRULY DESKLESS TECH

However, leveraging office-based solutions require telecom field employees to locate areas where they can connect to their home network and submit reports long after their site visit. An inability to receive instructions and directions lengthens their time to deliver service, resulting in longer working hours, slower time to resolution, and, most importantly, potential customer dissatisfaction.

However, by investing in and utilizing true deskless technology, telecom companies can digitize their manual tracking and monitoring processes. Employers and employees can enjoy real-time quick access to locations of concerns and map out their routes. Offline capability enables workers in the field to utilize applications, and to automatically synchronize their information across the organization once they’re reconnected to their network.

Custom communication and collaboration solutions that are fully integrated into their mobile devices enables engineers and technicians to connect with other workers in the field, allowing for smooth and seamless teamwork for complex issues. Being able to link to their office-based counterparts streamlines reporting from the field. 

Technicians can also supplement their reports with images and videos for faster decision-making, and even more rapid resolution. Such images and videos can be used later for training and audit purposes.

By freeing technicians and engineers from the limitations of desk-bound tools and applications, they can immediately report to the site via the shortest route possible and quickly begin maintenance and repair procedures. With their turn-around time (TAT) effectively reduced, telecom field teams are able to achieve faster overall mean time to repair (MTTR), guaranteeing higher network availability to their consumers.

PRODUCTIVITY GAINS

Giving employees access to technologies and tools more suited to their roles and functions has a tremendous impact on employee productivity, satisfaction, and engagement. 

Communication is one crucial area where many deskless employees feel left out.

  • Believe it or not, 83% of frontline workers are not provided with their own corporate email address. 
  • Nearly half (45%) of deskless workers can’t access their company intranet even when they are at work. 
  • Deskless workers struggle to access business information and reach out to their superiors and colleagues, resulting in a feeling of disconnect and disengagement. 
  • In fact, an estimated 80% of deskless workers feel they don’t belong. When this happens, productivity suffers and employee turnover rate soars.

But if they are provided with their own dedicated deskless tech, 70% of non-desk workers say it would help them perform better. Also, 78% reported that the availability of technology is a critical factor in choosing and staying with an employer.

This has the potential to cut down turnover rate, which is extremely high in deskless-heavy industries, including telecommunications. It also encourages them to be more compliant with their workflows, thus significantly reducing non-compliance and accountability risks.

Within a telecom setting, team leaders and/or Network Operations Center (NOC) managers have real-time access to their engineers’ and technicians’ accounts. This access enables them to monitor the movement of their field teams in real time, and to ensure that they perform all requisites and adhere to standard operating workflows.

Access to performance logs of their deskless workers enables management to delve deep into their technicians’ and engineers’ performance in the field. Data from deskless applications help management paint a clear and comprehensive picture of their workers’ performance and progress. It enables them to carry out more accurate performance reviews and job accounting, based on data. 

One study discovered that 75% of deskless employees have become increasingly reliant on technology to perform their jobs. Given how remote work is becoming a permanent trend, and social distancing protocols are still in effect, that figure is expected to increase. Thankfully, another study found that 60% of deskless workers across multiple industries have been issued a smartphone or a tablet.

That’s a good start. Still, the telecommunication industry, must accelerate their deskless tech revolution. And while 83% of deskless workers are given a laptop or a desktop, these are less than ideal devices in a business world that is geared for deskless mobility and agility.

To stay ahead of the competition, telecom companies must empower their people with the tools they need to excel.

Resources and Notes
1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/01/12/how-the-pandemic-will-drive-digital-transformation-for-deskless-workers-in-2021-and-beyond/

2. https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag517.htm

3. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/despite-working-on-the-front-line-deskless-workers-lack-the-tech-they-need-during-the-pandemic/

4. https://blog.smarp.com/deskless-workers-challenges-how-to-solve-them

5. https://www.emcap.com/technology-for-the-deskless-workforce-2020/

For more information, email rahul@godeskless.com, and visit https://godeskless.com/. Follow goDeskless on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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About Author

Rahul Tiwari is EVP & MD at goDeskless India. For more information, email rahul@godeskless.com, and visit https://godeskless.com/. Follow goDeskless on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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