There’s a lot written on the topic of digital transformation. Yet, there’s often a focus towards one particular type of ‘workplace’, namely the office. But what about how organizations are empowering firstline workers on the shop floor, for instance?
Industries that often play an essential role in the smooth running of society like healthcare, hospitality, construction and retail rely on the contribution of firstline workers. In this post, we will:
- Look at the progress of digital transformation in industries with firstline workers
- Outline how they can benefit from modern IT
What are firstline workers and why are they so important?
It’s estimated that the global workforce comprises of 2 billion firstline workers. These people are often the first line of contact with your customers or are responsible for assembling your products on the factory floor.
A recent survey by Microsoft looked into the current state of digital transformation for firstline workers – posing questions about how workers feel about digital technology, whether they had seen much change in the technology they use, and whether they would welcome more automation in their workplaces.
The results indicate that organizations have been slow to roll out the digital transformation to firstline workers, however there is a strong appetite for it and a clear belief that new tech will help streamline processes to make work life easier:
- Only 21% of first line workers are currently involved in digital transformation initiatives
- 84% believe that digital tech can help streamline processes
- 82% said that new technology can help optimize efficiency
- 66% said automation would make processes more flexible
- 67% agreed that working closely with automation and AI was key to developing a successful modern workforce
Another study found that business leaders see firstline workers as the backbone of their organization and that the potential benefits of empowering firstline workers are enormous:
- 83% reported higher levels of customer satisfaction
- 82% reported higher levels of employee satisfaction
- 64% reported better employee retention
With so much to gain, it’s time your business gave its firstline workers the tools they need to unlock their potential in the digital workplace. Let’s see what this might look like, using the tools available with Office 365.
The benefits of empowering firstline workers
To see the benefits of empowering firstline workers, let’s look at an example of how modern IT can streamline processes and boost productivity in the retail industry.
Imagine a large store with a mixture of part-time and full-time staff; a young workforce proficient in the latest technology, such as instant messaging and social networks.
The store manager has several challenges with managing their team, particularly in terms of communication and scheduling. All processes are currently paper-based or rely on spreadsheets – which means that changes to the state of play are often incorrectly logged or get lost. A noticeboard in the staff room is used for communicating important information with staff (i.e. the rota, company announcements, etc.) which employees often forget to look at. Emails are used for important messages like sending out the work rota for the week, but staff have complained about not receiving emails. What’s more, changes to the schedule result in a barrage of emails for employees, which are mostly ignored.
How Modern IT Can Help:
- Increase the mobility of the workforce
By creating a communication hub in the cloud using Office 365 and Microsoft StaffHub (a solution tailored for firstline workers), employees can access all the apps and tools they need in the cloud. They can log-on remotely using their mobile devices, which can be really useful when working on the shop floor – for instance, when dealing with customer complaints, they can quickly access information about stock availability.
- Brings teams together
Group chat apps such as Microsoft Teams let employees communicate in seconds. This can bring teams together, whether it’s to solve a problem or to build up rapport. Messages are saved, so that important information can be found later.
- Simplify schedule management
Schedules can be stored online and can be updated as changes are made. Notifications can be sent around when updates affect them, so they don’t have to receive emails every time someone is sick or can’t make a shift. Also, the manager saves valuable time, as they no longer have to email out the new schedules. Issues such as leave requests can be sorted in a few clicks too, simplifying important processes.
- Coordinate communications and provide on-going training
Important information such as store offers, company announcements and sales targets are available 24/7.
- Manage IT security and compliance
With platforms like Office 365, security and compliance comes first, which is why all employee and customer data is stored in line with compliance regulations. When it comes to security, permissions management can help make sure that only the right people have access to important information.
Give Firstline Workers the Tools They Need
At Worksighted, we provide IT services for growing companies, by helping businesses in all industries unlock the potential of digital transformation. We help you create lean, efficient and secure IT environments in the cloud that enhance the performance of your teams and reduce costs.
If you want to know more about empowering firstline workers at your organization get in touch with us today. For help implementing technology for every member of your workplace, explore Worksighted’s cloud services.