The deskless workforce is finally getting the attention it deserves.
Despite being 80% of the global workforce, deskless employees have been ignored for years. These frontline workers build the products we enjoy, educate us, and keep us healthy. Yet only 1% of software venture capital is invested in technology to serve these 2.7 billion people. And with few exceptions, the only deskless workers Silicon Valley has invested in are Uber or Lyft drivers.
Emergence Capital, an early stage VC firm, commisioned a study of 100 IT buyers from the world’s top deskless industries to understand their views on investing in technology for “un-wired” employees and to inspire more companies to serve this overlooked market.
Top reasons for investing in deskless workers
Productivity is a top priority, but keeping employees happy is critical, according to the study. The report cites high attrition rates and retention issues as significant challenges, and respondents report they are hopeful that technology can solve the problem.
Mobile is key
Mobile adoption leads these investments, with 98% of companies currently and planning to invest in this area. Mobile is critical for deskless workers because many of them don’t have company emails or laptops. As a result, workers without a way to communicate with team members or HQ feel disconnected from the company where they work, which can lead to higher turnover. Additionally, younger employees have higher expectations for a more consumer-like experience from their workplace technology tools.
Deskless Funding Is Gaining Momentum
Two major trends are driving global companies to invest in deskless employees: more millennials in the workplace and worker demand for better technology combined with mobile platforms. And in 2017, over $3.5 billion was invested in startups that serve the deskless workforce.
The report signals a massive opportunity that Silicon Valley, for once, hasn’t thought much about. It’s a fast-growing and important market, where good technology, especially portable and untethered, is just as important.
For an excellent example of how large companies with deskless workers are using new technology to connect with their frontline employees, our customer, Love’s Travel Stops, has a great story.