Two billion workers representing 80% of the workforce worldwide have handled rolling shutdowns and numerous disruptions during the past two years. They've faced exhaustion, frustration, and confusion in the face of a global pandemic that raged on for nearly two years.
Nurses and doctors are some of our most well-known frontline workers, but people who work in manufacturing plants, truck drivers who deliver goods, managers who handle third-party logistics, grocery store workers, and anyone who can't do their job from home is a frontline worker.
In a medical setting, it's important to remember that emergency services workers weren't able to stay home even when the pandemic posed the most danger to the public. In fact, when people were sickest, workers in hospitals and doctors' offices faced some of the harshest and most dangerous working conditions.
According to a recent Work Trend Index Special Report, 58% of frontline workers don't believe their stress levels at work will decrease during the next year.
Staff shortages are a growing concern as travel resumes and we attempt to get "back to normal." Now, as millions of workers are changing professions or quitting their jobs, it's more important than ever to support our frontline teams.
It's crucial to prioritize the needs of frontline workers. Empowering your team by providing the right types of training, building a company culture that includes frontline workers, and providing access to technology that makes their jobs easier is crucial to retaining frontline workers and supporting their well-being.
There are several ways to leverage the power of technology to support your frontline team.
1. The Internet of Things (IoT) Streamlines Maintenance Procedures
A new field service trend relies on the Internet of Things (IoT) to streamline maintenance schedules for workers who must enter homes and businesses to do their jobs.
Remote monitoring allows technology to dictate maintenance schedules, instead of relying on renter reports or scheduled preventative maintenance.
Remote monitoring uses technology to collect information about assets so technicians can eliminate unnecessary in-person visits to job sites. This type of connectivity and remote monitoring provides better customer service and helps extend the life spans of assets.
2. AR-Based Virtual Collaboration Tools Provide Remote Assistance
Supporting frontline workers has changed since the beginning of the pandemic, and restrictions on limitations and travel have encouraged companies to send their workers home when possible. In the past, frontline workers could collaborate on-site and in-person, but during the pandemic, quarantines and insecurities about becoming ill or spreading COVID-19 inspired many companies to adopt virtual collaboration tactics that allow key employees to collaborate, even when one or more of them couldn't be on-site.
With AR-based virtual collaboration tools, frontline workers can tap into the expertise of a coworker or colleague from anywhere with a reliable internet connection.
Manufacturers often use AR-based virtual collaboration tactics to meet with third-party suppliers and dealers, customers, and service teams from companies that provide equipment support and service.
Remote subject matter experts can provide one-on-one guidance to help workers on the job, helping frontline employees feel empowered and supported. Real-time data, videos and digital work procedures can be readily available, providing a rich learning environment in nearly any industry.
3. Clocking In Apps Make Daily Life a Bit Easier
Remote workers often have to rely on paper time sheets, call-in procedures, or other cumbersome tracking methods to help them keep track of their hours. Frontline workers appreciate the opportunity to clock into work via a smartphone app to reduce the time and energy they must devote to this clerical task. This type of software can also help everyone stay in compliance with labor laws and clocking in and out policies.
Clocking in apps eliminate the need for timesheets while providing real-time records of the time and work completed.
4. Technology Provides Advanced Job Management For Trade Industries
Job management can be especially challenging for certain trades such as HVAC, plumbing, electrica, deliveries, or other household and business repair specialists who work in the field. That’s why it’s crucial to pay attention to operations management trends.
It's common for these types of trade businesses to manage multiple workers simultaneously. Remote digital job management systems help to eliminate the need to make multiple phone calls to individual technicians. Instead, digital transmissions provide instructions for the next job.
For some workers, like plumbers, stock and inventory management can be difficult and cause jobs to take longer. It requires a large number of parts to complete different jobs throughout the day, and the ability to keep track of inventory and locate specific parts quickly via a digitized inventory management system can eliminate frustration and make completing a job easier.
And for those working in delivery services, technology can help manage third party logistics, provide proof of delivery, and track shipments all the way to the customer’s door.
5. Use eLearning to Provide Excellent Training
With worker shortage challenges across nearly every industry, training new employees or cross-training frontline workers to create more opportunities for flexible staffing is more important than ever. Plus, many corporations are working toward establishing a culture of learning, which includes educating frontline employees.
Traditional classroom training isn't practical in the post-COVID world for a number of reasons. There's a limited number of trainers, employees can't take time away from their job and it's crucial to onboard new employees in a short amount of time.
Connected worker training can help shorten onboarding time while providing current employees with the knowledge base they need to pivot to confidently handle a larger number of tasks that are normally outside of their day-to-day activities.
Augmented reality (AR), contextual information, and visual aids help walk workers through even the most complex tasks to deliver a technologically advanced training experience through eLearning options.
Reducing downtime during periods when frontline workers are learning new skills is critical and can result in better productivity.
Technology Can Provide Frontline Workers With Much-Needed Support
In professions where retaining and caring for workers is crucial, technology has the potential to relieve bottlenecks and alleviate frustration for frontline workers. Of course, technology can't provide a solution to every problem faced by frontline workers. It does have the power to make their daily lives a bit simpler, however.
Employers who want to support their frontline workers have the ability to tap into some of the newest technological developments, and doing so could be the key to retaining and attracting top talent.