Mastering Top Onboarding Techniques for Deskless Employees

Top Onboarding Techniques For Deskless Employees

Top Onboarding Techniques For Deskless Employees

Last updated on April 23, 2024 at 01:43 pm

As businesses continue to expand, the traditional office setting has become a thing of the past. More and more companies are now utilizing deskless employees such as remote workers, contractors, field technicians, and retail staff to carry out their daily operations. While this flexible work arrangement may seem appealing for both employers and employees, it also presents unique challenges when it comes to onboarding these individuals into the company’s culture and processes. 

In this blog post, we will explore some of the top onboarding techniques specifically tailored for deskless employees that can help set them up for success in their new role. By implementing these strategies, you can ensure that your deskless team members feel valued and connected from day one while also maximizing their productivity and overall job satisfaction.

Challenges of Deskless Employee Onboarding

Navigating the challenges of deskless employee onboarding is crucial for organizations, given that 80% of today’s global workforce falls into this category. Below, we outline some of the common obstacles encountered in this process:

  • Lack of access to conventional training methods: Since deskless employees are generally not desk-bound and do not spend time in the office, they cannot gain from standard training techniques, such as classroom-style learning or lengthy instruction books. 
  • Flexibility in work schedules. Deskless workers have schedules that can usually vary, making it difficult to find a time slot that would suit everyone for training or other learning activities.
  • Practical involvement demands: Deskless work is usually focused on practical involvement, but most traditional training formats focus more on theoretical material.
  • Geographical dispersion and time constraints: Deskless employees can be located anywhere in the world, and it is impossible to gather all of them in a single physical location at the same time. Moreover, these workers do not have a lot of free time to participate in learning activities.
  • Skill retention and implementation: Given the volatility of deskless jobs, in-person training sessions may not adequately promote skill retention and implementation.
  • Lack of a constant workspace or training center: There are deskless jobs with no single physical location for employees’ workspace or campus, which makes it difficult to offer centralized training resources and support.

Top Onboarding Techniques for Deskless Employees

To establish an engaging and productive onboarding experience for deskless employees, organizations must adopt a fresh approach tailored to their specific needs. Techniques for deskless employee onboarding may include the following:

Mobile-first Approach

In today’s working environment, mobile technology is indispensable, yet many deskless employees lack access to it. An effective onboarding solution should leverage microlearning modules, interactive video instructions, and easily accessible digital materials on smartphones or desktop computers. These methods allow employees to enhance their skills during breaks without disrupting organizational workflow. When designing training materials, consider their length, aesthetic appeal, and compatibility with mobile devices in terms of screen display and network quality.

Hands-on Training

While theoretical knowledge is important, deskless employees benefit greatly from shadowing experienced colleagues and applying lessons in real-world scenarios. By observing seasoned employees at work and engaging in scenario-based simulations, new hires can develop skills and confidence more effectively.

Also Read: Frontline Employee Training to Boost Employee Performance

Mentorship Programs

A mentorship program pairs new recruits with seasoned deskless employees for a defined time. The purpose is to assist the novice employee and develop a professional community within the organization. A mentor provides advice, support, and assistance, fostering recruits’ integration into the current professional environment.

Social Integration

Promote team-building activities and encourage peer-to-peer learning to cultivate a sense of belonging among deskless employees. Utilize digital platforms to create virtual environments where employees can engage in casual conversations, share experiences, and address challenges.

Regular Check-ins

While adopting different techniques to onboard deskless employees is commendable, it won’t be of any use should employees not remain engaged. So, how do you engage deskless employees? You can set up regular meetings or touchpoints with new hires to ensure they feel supported, answer questions, address concerns, and check their progress. These meetings act as critical feedback loops to help ensure that deskless workers stay on the right course or make adjustments as needed throughout the onboarding process. Use video conferencing or mobile messaging applications to conduct them and ensure they are accessible and manageable for your deskless employees. 

Feedback Mechanisms

Create avenues for your deskless employees to give feedback on their onboarding experience with a focus on continuous improvement. This can be done through tools like anonymous surveys or focus groups so that your employees feel empowered to provide feedback.

Also Read: Data Analytics in Frontline Operations: Best Strategies to Succeed

Enhancing Onboarding Experience for Deskless Employees

Organizations can also utilize technology and unique deskless employee onboarding techniques to make the entire process more interactive and fun: 

Technology Adoption

Organizations can choose from a wide range of learning management systems (LMS) and mobile learning apps that facilitate the delivery of training and monitor training progress. Many of these platforms even have centralized resource repositories, which significantly help deskless workers. Most mobile apps also propose personalized learning routes, built-in design principles, and analytics to track employee performance and commitment. 

Microlearning Content

Break down complex topics into small, easily digestible pieces of learning material to accommodate deskless employees’ busy schedules and attention spans. Microlearning makes concepts quick and easy to remember, which has the added benefit of making learning more flexible and practical for deskless employees. It also includes interactive modules such as quizzes, simulations, and scenario-based learning that let deskless staff quickly learn and apply concepts.

Also Read: Microlearning Content Calendar Template


Companies can design competitive simulations for their employees. Gamified systems, such as points, emblems, leadership boards, and course advancement, encourage workers to become more active and fun participants and help boost engagement. By transforming training into interactive games or challenges, deskless employees can immerse themselves in enjoyable and educational learning experiences. This approach not only makes onboarding more entertaining but also fosters a sense of achievement as employees progress through the simulations.

Performance Support Tools

Make resources like digital job aids, quick reference guides, checklists, and augmented or virtual reality simulations available for deskless workers. Performance support tools act as just-in-time support, enabling employees to access relevant information quickly, troubleshoot problems, and reinforce their learning through hands-on experience in real-world situations.

In Summary

Effective onboarding for deskless employees is crucial for fostering engagement, productivity, and retention within any organization. By implementing the top techniques outlined in this article, such as utilizing mobile-friendly platforms, personalized training, and ongoing support, companies can ensure a smooth transition for their deskless workforce, ultimately leading to a more cohesive and successful team dynamic. Investing in comprehensive onboarding processes tailored to the unique needs of deskless employees not only cultivates a sense of belonging and purpose but also sets the stage for long-term growth and success for both individuals and the organization as a whole.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can organizations engage in deskless employee onboarding across multiple locations? 

To guarantee consistency in deskless employee onboarding across multiple locations, organizations can develop standardized training materials and resources accessible from a centralized platform like an LMS. Further, ensuring clear guidelines and best practices on acceptable forms of variation in onboarding procedures can enhance uniformity within flexibility to cater to location-specific characteristics.

Q: What strategies can promote knowledge retention among deskless employees during onboarding?

To maximize knowledge retention among deskless employees, companies should break down complex concepts into simple modules in an approach known as microlearning. Additionally, consider providing on-the-job training and mentorship opportunities, and one can also use real-life situations to confirm the acquired knowledge.

Q: How can organizations measure the effectiveness of their onboarding programs for deskless employees?

An organization can determine the effectiveness of onboarding programs based on quantitative and qualitative metrics. Some quantitative approaches include employee engagement scores, retention rates, performance metrics, and productivity measures. Qualitative indicators involve finding deskless employee perspectives with the help of surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews.

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