Frontline Digital Inclusion: Bridge the Digital Divide

What is Frontline Digital Inclusion and Why is it Essential?

What is Frontline Digital Inclusion and Why is it Essential?

Last updated on May 28, 2024 at 01:31 pm

Frontline workers who interact with customers directly and engage with products physically proved their resilience and significance during the COVID-19 pandemic. These workers form 80% of the global workforce and are employed in almost every industry. Despite their critical role, organizations often don’t include them when making technological innovation decisions. 

Discussions about workplace digitization include infrastructure changes, cloud deployment, and connecting every computer within the office. However, this approach often ignores frontline digital inclusion. Bridging this technology divide and empowering frontline workers with devices, skills, and support is crucial for organizations to achieve true digital transformation. 

In this blog, we will explore what digital inclusion is and why it is important for frontline workers. Let’s begin!

Also Read: How to Create a Tech Stack to Engage Frontline Workers

What is Frontline Digital Inclusion?

Organizations must understand the importance of frontline digital inclusion to ensure that digital transformation efforts are successful throughout the enterprise. This requires leaders to address the core elements of frontline digital inclusion, such as:

  • Access to devices and software: Only 23% of frontline workers believe they have the necessary access to technology to be productive in their work. Organizations must supply reliable and up-to-date devices like smartphones, tablets, or laptops for their work. Making these devices and necessary software affordable and accessible is crucial. 
  • Digital literacy skills: Organizations often concentrate more on training programs for knowledge workers. About 78% of frontline workers don’t have a college degree, and equipping them with the necessary digital skills to use digital technology is paramount. 
  • Digital tool adoption: Leaders must identify the right type of digital tools that can help frontline workers complete their tasks effectively and quickly. Choosing user-friendly and intuitive platforms will increase digital tool adoption and enable frontline workers of all ages to utilize them to the best degree. 
Also Read: Team Building Activities for Deskless Workers

Why is Frontline Digital Inclusion Essential?

Across the workforce, there is inequity of experience with respect to digital technology and tools. Engaging and retaining frontline workers is possible only if organizations take conscious measures to make them feel included and needed. Integrating digital tools with existing workflows will make it easier for them to complete their tasks. Let’s dive into the benefits of frontline digital inclusion for employers and organizations. 

Benefits for Frontline Workers

  • Increased efficiency and productivity: With the right approach and deployment, frontline workers’ productivity can increase by 22%. Digital tools can automate repetitive tasks to improve data collection and enhance communication.
  • Improved communication and collaboration: Digital platforms facilitate better collaboration with colleagues, supervisors, and customers. 
  • Enhanced access to information and resources: In a digitally connected workplace, real-time information, knowledge bases, and training materials are readily available. Access to these corporate intranet resources through digital devices will enable frontline workers to solve problems independently and make informed decisions.
  • Greater sense of empowerment and ownership: Only 60% of frontline workers are happy and satisfied with their jobs. Inclusive digital access can improve this by giving them a sense of ownership and empowering them to complete their tasks independently.

Benefits for Organizations 

  • Improved customer service experience: Digitally connected and empowered frontline workers can provide faster and improved customer service, enhancing overall satisfaction. 
  • Increased innovation and problemsolving: Digital tools enable information sharing and collaboration, creating innovative solutions for problem-solving within the organization. Unhindered access to resources enables frontline workers to innovate independently to solve their day-to-day issues. 
  • Stronger employee engagement and retention: Organizations can show their commitment to frontline workers by investing in their digital capabilities. This fosters stronger engagement, reduces turnover, and improves the company’s bottom line.
  • Enhanced adaptability in the digital landscape: A digitally enabled workforce readily adapts to changing technologies and evolving customer needs, allowing organizations to stay competitive in the digital age.
Also Read: Policies to Support Diversity and Equity in Deskless and Frontline Teams

Challenges to Frontline Digital Inclusion

Almost 40% of frontline workers lack trust in their leadership because leaders often fail to make deliberate efforts to ensure they feel included in the organization. Employers should focus on improving the experiences of every employee, including the frontline workers responsible for delivering direct customer service. Ensuring digital inclusion for all comes with its own roadblocks:

  • Cost of devices and Internet access: To enable frontline workers’ digital lives, organizations must invest in hardware devices and software platforms and ensure reliable Internet access for all. This requires significant technology investment, as the digital needs of deskless employees are different from those of in-office employees.
  • Lack of digital literacy: Frontline workers often lack basic digital skills, which means that organizations must invest heavily in training programs.
  • Time constraints and competing priorities: Leaders often have to make a choice to prioritize digitization needs. Their demanding schedules make it difficult for them to carve out time for digital skills training. 
  • Lack of ongoing technical skills: Limited digital knowledge means that frontline workers need more support in using digital technologies. Some organizations may simply lack the bandwidth necessary to offer technical support. As a result, frontline workers may feel discouraged as they are not able to use digital tools effectively. 

Moving Forward: Promoting Frontline Digital Inclusion

The digital transformation of frontline employees could result in a 345% ROI. It is a smart investment for organizations, as ensuring frontline digital inclusion helps retain employees in the long run. Some of the practical strategies that can be used by employers are:

  • Invest in affordable technology and accessible software: While 75% of managers believe their tools support mobile frontline workers, less than half of them agree. Leaders can explore cost-effective hardware options and user-friendly software customized for frontline workers’ needs. 
  • Provide digital skills training programs: Understanding the digital knowledge of frontline workers, organizations must develop targeted training programs to equip them with the skills necessary to use digital tools effectively.
  • Foster a culture of digital learning and support: Organizations must encourage frontline workers to explore digital tools and offer ongoing tech support to increase adoption, creating a positive company culture
  • Enable userfriendly interfaces and workflows: To minimize frustration and maximize adoption, use intuitive and straightforward digital tools that can be integrated seamlessly into existing workflows.

Let’s Sum Up

Frontline digital inclusion is not just a nice-to-have but an essential component for the success of any organization’s digital transformation efforts. By ensuring frontline workers have access to necessary technology, developing their digital literacy skills, and promoting the adoption of user-friendly digital tools, organizations can create a more inclusive and productive workforce. Addressing these needs not only empowers frontline employees but also enhances overall organizational performance, resilience, and innovation. Investing in frontline digital inclusion demonstrates a commitment to valuing every employee and recognizing their crucial role in the enterprise’s success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is digital skills training necessary for frontline workers?

Basic computer knowledge is not enough for frontline workers to use their task-specific applications. They need training on navigating the user interface and using digital platforms to update data related to their jobs. 

Who benefits the most from frontline digital inclusion?

Frontline digital inclusion is a win-win for both employers and employees. Employees can complete their tasks quickly and efficiently and feel empowered and satisfied. With widespread digital transformation, employers can see increased productivity, an adaptable workforce, and better customer service. 

How can companies get started with frontline digital inclusion?

Leaders must explore the right digital tools, platforms, and solutions specific to the tasks of their frontline workers. Establishing a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable exploring new digital tools is important. This requires investing in hardware, software, and people to improve the organization’s agility.  

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