The hybrid work model is exploding in popularity. Businesses recognize that flexible work is here to stay and top talent expects it.

Hybrid work is a blended model that consists of some employees who work 100% remotely, others who work in an office, and the majority of workers splitting time between home and the office. According to a 2021 study by Accenture, 63% of high-growth companies use hybrid work models and workers prefer a hybrid model 83% of the time.

 To speak with an HR specialist about the best model for your business, request information here.

Hybrid work models also have their challenges. Digital exhaustion can and will happen. Additionally, many jobs are performed outside of an office environment—for example, employees working in retail, transportation, healthcare, hospitality, and manufacturing who make up about 70-80% of the global workforce. This category of worker is known as the “deskless workforce.” Their needs are different from hybrid office-based employees.


We’ll discuss why it’s important to give equal weight to your deskless and hybrid work strategies to ensure your business delivers a great employee experience for both types of workers. In particular, we’ll examine new research from global analyst and thought leader Josh Bersin and share tips to create a more supportive environment to attract and retain these vital employees.

Why businesses need to improve the deskless workforce experience

Consider employees like technicians who complete work in the field or healthcare workers doing rounds. These workers typically don’t have the time or ability to interrupt their workflow to find a desktop computer running today’s latest productivity tools. Instead they often rely on mobile devices and apps to get the job done—which aren’t always well-designed for mobile-only experiences. That’s why businesses need to focus on improving these experiences and enhance the ability to collaborate with team members regardless of physical location.

Unfortunately, deskless workers are often overlooked in workforce and engagement strategies. According to one study, 84% of deskless workers feel they don’t get enough direct communication from management. Without direct and effective communication, employees can feel disengaged.

Given the economic and social challenges that businesses are facing as a result of the pandemic, keeping engagement high is vital. The study also found that while nearly 60% of respondents claimed to equally prioritize employee engagement for both office-based and deskless workers only 12% said they prioritized deskless workers.

It’s clear that HR needs a better solution. Speaking to HR magazine, Josh Bersin said, “When the deskless workforce feels unsafe or poorly treated, a company’s entire operating model can be impacted. Now companies desperately want to retain and attract these people as the job market becomes ever more competitive.”

Focus on 7 critical components of deskless work

According to Bersin’s research, there are seven critical components of deskless work that businesses must focus on to improve the experience:

  1. Embolden human connections and allow time for creativity. Deskless workers often crave face to face connections; they are also your company’s closest connection to the customer. Yet less than 10% of manufacturing and consumer companies allow workers time to “rest, reinvent, and innovate” compared to 21% of technology firms.

  2. Provide coaching and development opportunities. To deliver great customer experiences, deskless workers need feedback. Unfortunately, managers are often disconnected from outside-the-office work and unable to offer constructive insight. That’s why it’s important for businesses to strengthen support systems and tools for managers so they can provide better feedback.

  3. Provide extra support for commuting and nurture a sense of belonging at work. Deskless workers don’t have much control over work hours or commuting. HR needs to do more to minimize the differences between hybrid desk staff and deskless workers by making the commute as safe as possible and listening to employees to foster belonging.

  4. Support employee wellbeing. Only 13% of the 2.7 billion deskless workers worldwide have paid sick time in addition to limited flexibility in job scheduling. This often makes child and dependent care stressful for these workers. Businesses should consider expanding support for all types of employee wellbeing including health, emotional, and financial.

  5. Help build career pathways and offer educational opportunities. As Bersin notes, deskless workers, “especially those who may be in jobs ripe for automation, need pathways to future-proof careers.” HR must look for better ways to provide upskilling and education opportunities as well as new job experiences and mentoring to ensure deskless workers aren’t left out or left behind.

  6. Build a great culture and put people first. Many deskless workers feel disconnected from the overall corporate values and culture. HR must prioritize investments in people and ensure communication channels effectively reach all types of workers. Research shows that businesses that focus on culture and communication drive higher financial performance and customer satisfaction.

  7. Improve mobile experiences. Provide employees with the tools and services they need to engage in whatever way is most convenient to them. Adopt solutions that have a mobile-first approach, allows you to support and reinforce the core values of your business, and enables employees to easily stay connected and up to date.

Broadening and supporting your talent pool

With the growing ability to recruit remotely, businesses can expand their reach to all types of workers—whether they are desk or deskless workers. However, it’s important to be strategic about virtual recruitment including how you market job openings, ensure your process is modern and frictionless, and that you’re able to deliver personalized communication to candidates. To be successful in today’s tight labor market, you’
ll also need to take internal talent mobility efforts to the next level.

Asure can provide the support you need for your remote, hybrid, and deskless workforce. We offer HCM software and outsourced HR services to help you find and retain the best talent, automate and standardize processes, and manage the entire employee lifecycle.

Unlock your growth potential

Talk with one of experts to explore how Asure can help you reduce administrative burdens and focus on growth.

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