The term ‘deskless workers’ is used to define those who work outside a traditional office environment. These are people who are often engaged in manual tasks, and work in a variety of environments: from factories to construction sites, from warehouses to hospitals. We also refer to this category as ‘field workers’ and, according to some estimates, this is about 2.7 billion people, 80 per cent of the global workforce, of which 75 per cent use technology for their tasks most of the time.
The difficulties of field work
Deskless workers, however, face certain difficulties due to the lack of technological tools designed specifically for their needs.
Although over the past decades a great deal has been invested in technology (both hardware and software) for those who work at a fixed location, little has been done for those who work in the field.
According to research done by Emergence, 60% of deskless workers say they are dissatisfied with the technology made available to them. Furthermore, 70% also believe that more appropriate tools would help them work better, so much so that 78% evaluate the technology used by the company before accepting a job.
The difficulties encountered by workers mainly concern access to information, the ability to collaborate with colleagues and safety at work.
Access to information
The lack of constant access to information and resources that are necessary to carry out one’s work is one of the main difficulties that has been encountered. In fact,iIt is not always possible to have access to up-to-date information and this can create forced interruptions with consequent prolonged working time.
Need for specialised support
Those who work in the field may sometimes find themselves having to deal with anomalies and unforeseen events on their own. In these situations, the advice of a specialised colleague could be decisive.
However, communications are often fragmented: workers go from messages to e-mails, and then phone calls (if the connection allows it), without these exchanges being organized within a dedicated and easy-to-use area for the worker.
Unfortunately, these difficulties in sharing one’s point of view may force deskless workers to postpone operations or wait for expert personnel to arrive on-site. This absence of dedicated tools results in delays and the need to move an additional resource.
Safety at work
Finally, deskless workers often need to consult or compile documentation while working and are therefore forced to constantly shift their attention from what they are doing to the source of information (such as a computer, tablet, printed manuals or notes). This constant shifting of focus increases the risk of error and compromises worker safety, especially when working in hazardous environments or in adverse weather conditions.
How to support deskless workers?
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness in companies of the need to provide their staff with specific tools for field work in order to enable them to work more efficiently and safely.
In order to achieve this goal, some key factors to invest in have been identified:
- Providing mobile devices, preferably wearables, to allow access to information and resources at any time and place
- Developing apps that are specifically designed for field work
- Implementing real-time communication to enable remote collaboration between field workers and experienced colleagues
- Facilitating operations to increase safety levels
- Creating more effective training paths to increase the number of operations which are carried out by less experienced resources and to support professional development paths
Areas of intervention of wearable technologies and Eye4Task
The use of wearable technologies, combined with dedicated software such as Eye4Task, allows for the organisation of work and information and enables the fieldworker to:
- Have access to checklists and documents that are specific to their work.
- Have remote support when needed.
- Work hands-free.
In the production environment, following codified procedures to perform installations and machine calibration operations decreases the risk of error and allows even less experienced technicians to intervene. Moreover, thanks to the collaborative nature of the Eye4Task platform, MRO processes are also facilitated and the ability to connect with the company’s competence centre in real-time allows for faster and more efficient intervention.
The use of wearable devices such as smart glasses allows deskless workers to work hands-free, taking advantage of the opportunities given by voice commands to access or save information. These features are creating new and interesting opportunities, for example in the world of logistics, where other wearable devices such as finger readers can also be used to improve warehouse management.
Working hands-free also increases workplace safety, especially in those mission-critical situations where having your hands free is an essential requirement, such as on construction sites.
Awareness of the advantages of new technologies is also growing in the healthcare world. The possibility of working hands-free with the assistance of a remote expert opens up new scenarios for the implementation of the health service, both in the laboratory and in the home care field.
Finally, it is worth noting that remote assistance using smart glasses together with Eye4Task exploits the see-what-I-see approach. This method of collaboration allows the remote expert to see exactly the point of view of his or her colleague in the field, enabling him or her to support even less experienced workers, facilitating their training and accelerating the learning curve.
Do you need expert advice to support the work of operators in the field? Contact us!