Why hospitality must improve communication with deskless workers

Deskless workers make up about 80 percent of the hospitality workforce. Photo credit: andresr/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images (Woman wearing mask, opening door to restaurant)

COVID-19 has dispersed workplaces for over six long months now, but for front-line staff in the field across hospitality, retail and health-care industries, the feeling of being disconnected from the rest of the company did not just manifest recently. Studies show that deskless workers make up about 80 percent of our workforce. However, despite being such a huge part of the workforce, this section of the labor market has been completely ignored when it comes to digital transformation of organizations.

Enterprise communications players like Slack, Microsoft Teams and others have missed out on this huge portion of the workforce while designing communication solutions. Ultimately, deskless workers have been suffering for it as they juggle multiple tools at the expense of productivity. This problem is only going to get worse because COVID-19 has increased the number of deskless employees in an organization and remote work is here to stay for office-based workers.

Deskless Hospitality

More than 122 million deskless workers make up the global hospitality industry. They are often working outside the office, organizing logistics, looking after customers, cooking food and serving drinks for hours on end. They not only feel disconnected from their colleagues in the organization, they feel less valued and less empowered to share new ideas.

Click here for all of Hotel Management's COVID-19 coverage

The software that deskless workers are using is not designed with their needs in mind, and hence, it typically doesn't function well in the field. A majority of the field workers only have access to their full suite of productivity tools once they are in front of their computers.

Employee motivation and engagement needs to be at the core of every organization. If employees feel less valued, the disconnect carries over to hotel guests. Disengagement also leads to higher rates of absenteeism, lack of productivity, higher turnover and human error.

Things are bound to get more tumultuous as the restrictions on the hospitality industry start to lift and employees get back onsite. This long period of remote communication will heighten the feeling of disconnect among front-line workers and the rest of the employees. In the new normal, there will be a growing appetite for proper lines of communication as employees will need to be in the know about changing policies and regulations during this time, and lack of communication will only present newer, more complicated challenges.

Remedies

So how can hoteliers ensure that their staff, especially their front-line workers, feel included and valued as the hospitality industry starts to rise back up? To remedy this situation, hoteliers and leaders need to look for a solution that could enable them to communicate with all their employees in real time. They need tools and technology that allows the hotels to share organizational information with front-line staff like housekeeping, front desk and waiters in real time in a seamless and secure manner.

In times when the policies have the potential to change in real time to meet the new challenges of the new normal, the traditional methods of sharing information like notice boards, handbooks or emails will not work. One way hoteliers can go about this could be by adopting a mobile-first approach that would enable their employees to access information directly from their mobile devices anytime, anywhere.

In a global hospitality market, organizational leaders need to cut through silos and language barriers. They need to reach employees with information personalized for them as well as track consumption and measure what’s working for future engagements.

The mobile-first approach also provides an opportunity to onboard new deskless staff in an effective and efficient manner. It can enable operational leaders to keep a close tab on onboarding requirements and its completion, assign tasks and training to the new employees and keep track of schedules for new and old staff alike.

Few industries have been hit as hard by the coronavirus as the hospitality sector. Research shows that since the pandemic intensified, hotels have lost more than $46 billion in room revenue in the U.S. alone. As we await a return to “normal” life, now is the time for hoteliers to plan out a new path to recovery and success—and the key to that can be found in providing the tools that connect and engage deskless and office-based employees digitally. Eliminating the disconnect that front-line workers feel all too often will increase productivity and happiness in the workplace, and free up more time to tend to guests’ needs. In turn, this will be felt by hotel guests as they ease back into traveling and will encourage them to stay longer or more frequently as restrictions lift.

Praveen Kanyadi is co-founder and VP product of Groupe.io.