One of the success stories emerging from within the pandemic has been how easily office workers can easily move their work home. In contrast, frontline workers were limited in their ability to work flexibly, even within their worksites.
Globally, 80% of the workforce works on the front lines – they are retail sales assistants, doctors and nurses in hospitals, pharmacy workers, construction workers, farmers, forestry workers, food processing workers and real estate agents.
However, Australian companies are struggling to support frontline workers with the same level of technological empowerment as their fellow office workers.
a CIO.com Survey of Australian Managers November 2021 She revealed the top reasons why frontline workers are not given the same technology as office workers:
- 44% – The cost of deploying new technology
- 33% – Inability to provide guidance and coaching in person
- 29% – Difficulty managing the frontline end user technology fleet
The irony is that almost all frontline workers actually carry a powerful computer in their pockets – their smartphone.
But when it comes to business, they are often limited to using fixed point-of-sale terminals or desktop computers, running monolithic software not designed for collaboration or the free exchange of ideas and knowledge.
The truth is that there has generally been less investment in IT innovation for frontline workers than in corporate environments. This is partly because deploying ambitious IT systems outside the controlled environment of an office building is more complex. Providing IT support can be more difficult and company information can feel uncontrolled.
As a result, issues faced by these workers include the lack of a personal login (or email address) to the corporate network, which leads to insecure identity sharing and in turn hampers the ability of systems to deliver results tailored to the worker’s role or task progress.
It also pushes them towards using unapproved applications that provide easy messaging to other employees who need them, and allow confidential company and client information to be leaked to publicly available systems.
Corporate intranets often target largely office workers, meaning that frontline workers often have less access to company knowledge or the ability to feedback ideas they hear from customers directly to fellow office workers who develop products and services.
Google Workspace vision for frontline workers
Providing great technology to frontline workers depends on it being quick and easy to deploy. It should not require any specific device; Providing user accounts should be simple and the software should be familiar to use but secure, without the need for frequent logins throughout the day.
This means that any device available to a front-line worker must be approved for use – whether it be a high-end or flagship smartphone or tablet, for example.
Technical issues faced by today’s frontline workers can be effectively mitigated by using cloud-based software. The ‘office’ becomes within a web browser rather than the four walls of a building, and the majority of user provisioning work is done on a server rather than a machine.
The Google Workspace Frontline version is designed specifically for frontline workers and includes Google Drive, Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Meet and Chat, while administrators have controls for managing employee devices so data isn’t lost accidentally.
It’s instantly familiar to any of the three billion users of Google Workspace who already depend on it for their personal, educational and work lives every day, and it can be accessed from any device with a modern web browser. This means everyone can spend less time coaching, coaching and managing, and more time getting things done.
It also has an easy-to-set-up single sign-on, which means that once employees are logged into their devices, they will be automatically logged into the apps, and critical ecosystem apps like Docusign, Salesforce, Slack and many more can be provisioned automatically.
Supporting an agile workforce
One unique feature of the frontline workforce is that employees often move between locations and there can be high levels of employee turnover.
To support this, with Google Workspace Frontline, devices can be provisioned and unprovisioned multiple times in the same work day.
Devices can also be easily shared in the workplace – a tablet, for example, can be used by multiple people throughout the day with complete security, simply by logging in and out of their accounts.
The ease of access to the platform that frontline workers need means alleviating the problem of unauthorized applications being used for corporate communications. The entire workforce—desktop knowledge workers, frontline workers, and employees who do both—can use the same platforms to collaborate.
One of the things that frontline workers really need is the ability to communicate online with each other on a personal basis. Devices provided to front-line workers were often provided with common, public network identities, and this capability was lacking.
Workspace brings this capability to the front lines, with Google Meet and Google Chat available to every user, enabling seamless communication throughout the day.
Live collaboration is also really easy in Workspace – it’s built from the ground up online, so you can work on documents with someone else in real time without having to send them as email attachments.
By the end of 2021, video calls will be included in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, so there’s no need to open a separate app to connect with a colleague. This makes working on low-end devices with limited screen size responsive and easy.
Most importantly, Google Workspace lays the foundation for innovation to happen where your customers are. Frontline workers with a unique network identity and access to modern applications can easily collect feedback from customers and collaborate with business leaders to make rapid improvements.
Woolworths is one organization planning to take full advantage of it. The company says, explaining why Google chose Workspace for its workforce.
Learn more about Workspace Frontline.