How to bring frontline workers into your Modern Workplace
Organisations in spaces such as manufacturing, retail or medical care (to name a few examples) have separate camps. Those on the front line (such as warehouse workers, supermarket checkout staff and nurses), and those perhaps deemed as “corporate” who are more desk-based, whether that desk is in the office, at home or both.
A big challenge that faces many of these organisations is: How do we build a consistent, coherent communications structure across both of these areas? How do we make sure that our deskless staff feel the same level of inclusivity within the company as those who are connected? Intelogy specialises in building modern workplaces with our customers using Microsoft 365, but in some cases the deskless workforce may not even have company email addresses, let alone a licence within an intranet solution, or Microsoft 365. This could be for a number of reasons:
It may be cost-prohibitive to bring in high volumes of staff
It may be seen as excessive for staff to be given a company email address, just for accessing your organisational portal
There is a large administrative or governance oversight with managing the additional level of accounts for what may be perceived as a single requirement
There may be concerns over exposure to irrelevant (or confidential) corporate data if your intranet exists within SharePoint Online
Choosing to not include deskless staff within your modern workplace can itself bring problems within your organisation. The first is with communication barriers. Your communication strategy with frontline workers (if you have one) may be limited to one-way feeds or methods that rely on location visibility. These may include:
Posters in areas such as kitchens or relaxation areas
Printed newsletters that are distributed among staff, or on display in public areas
Regular, but infrequent Town Halls, in which senior members present updates to staff
Verbal team communication channels, such as line managers passing messages down to their teams from corporate teams
This kind of disconnected culture also faces problems with access to up-to-date forms, rosters, policies or procedural documents. It could be that staff members need to visit a physical location to obtain a printed copy, or request a form to be printed for them (which then comes with a waiting time). What can be done when hard-copy documents become out-dated and staff have not been made aware of the change?
While this creates logistical difficulties, the greater risk is with the most important aspect of your business: the people. What does this disconnect mean for them?
Staff may not feel truly connected to the business
They may feel undervalued when compared with “corporate” staff
Limited channels by which your staff can share ideas and feedback that could genuinely bring about improvements
Lack of confidence to provide ideas because of the existing environment
It creates a negative “them and us” culture
Just because staff don’t have a desk, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have a voice. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have great ideas. These are people on the frontline who may come across daily opportunities for organisational improvement. Including them in the modern workplace, alongside all staff as one equal unit, can bring with it a great deal of motivation and enhanced sense of worth, enabling participation.
One-way communication is no longer an effective method of enabling inclusivity, inspiration or connectedness (some may say it never has been). A substantially greater result can be achieved when two-way methods are implemented.
Bringing all your staff together in a single platform that enables conversations, feedback, access to key content and quick, simple access to company communications can bring huge potential for the future direction of your company culture.
So, what’s the right platform for this? One obvious choice may be SharePoint and Yammer, both excellent and well-established products within the market. However, you may have your reasons not to take this path. For example:
If you’re not already on Microsoft 365, or you are but don’t want the additional licence management
You want a faster approach to deploy to enterprise-scale environments
Perhaps you want a solution that enables more in the way of simplicity, focussed on a particular purpose that is separate from the rest of your working environment
This may be where a tool like Reach, from LiveTiles can assist. We hosted a webinar on the 1st of June 2021, where we explored the issues faced within this blog and demonstrated the technology that can be used to implement a new, communicative, informative and accessible workplace. Register below to access the recording of this webinar.
I work with organisations to adopt modern workplace practices through the implementation of new technologies, strategies and cultural change. Primarily focusing on the Microsoft 365 suite, I have a successful track record of enabling organisations to embrace modern working and create new, collaborative and engaging environments in which they work together successfully every day.