Provide a better employee experience for the 2.7 billion hourly deskless workers in the world

January 13, 2022 | 7 minute read
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About 80% of the global workforce is made up of workers who do not regularly sit at a desk to do their job. Rather, they are on the front lines serving customers or producing and moving goods whether it be in a manufacturing or a distribution plant, retail store, farm, construction site, hospital floor, hotel, or out on the road.

This vast part of the workforce has often been left behind when it comes to reaping the benefits of advancements in technology as well as other benefits that are often dished out to corporate deskbound knowledge workers. In the report by the Josh Bersin Company, The Big Reset: Deskless Workers, Josh Bersin notes that all the media attention around remote and hybrid working arrangements impact very few in the workforce, less than 20%, and he further conveys that because the deskless workers’ personal needs have been left to the wayside for so long and even more so during the pandemic, that is why we are seeing major resignations, more union activity, and massive labor shortages disrupting this sector of the workforce.

The good news is that things are changing rapidly as they often do in the world of HR and technology. As employers are grappling with how to retain their workers and attract talent, they are moving at warp speed to implement new processes and technology that enables them to cater to the deskless workers’ needs and desires and provide a better employee experience. Advancements in cloud computing, mobile devices, wearables, and wireless connectivity remove barriers to deliver cutting edge technology into the hands of hourly deskless workers to be more empowered, productive, engaged, connected, and provide better service while at the same time having more of their basic needs and desires met.

At Oracle, we work hand in hand with our customers to understand the real-world day in the life of their employees. Our partnership with customers help us deliver solutions that support employees and help them do their jobs more efficiently and effectively whether deskless or deskbound. Oracle’s Cloud applications provide an all-in-one solution that enables workers, no matter where they are, to easily access HR, benefits, payroll, workforce management, learning, talent management, supply chain management, task management, customer service processes and much more from anywhere and any device while supporting security. Oracle has also focused on giving line managers the tools they need to effectively keep their deskless workers happy and productive. With easy management of team schedules, availability, planned and unplanned absences, automated attestations, compliance alerts, and intelligent approvals, line managers can feel at ease spending less time micro-managing workers and rather using that time to coach and advise.  To help support deskless managers and workers, insight, alerts, and other information needed can be accessed from any device.

There are several key factors to providing a good employee experience for deskless workers and they are really about fulfilling basic human needs and desires that many cultures have neglected for so long.


Health and safety has always been a fundamental need in workplaces with high potential for hazards, but the pandemic has exacerbated and expanded this need across all industries. The historical challenges and failures to provide safety have bubbled to the surface for organizations who didn’t take safety seriously. With Oracle Cloud HCM’s Journeys,  Workforce Health and Safety, and IoT Connected Worker solutions, employers can leverage process automation, geofencing, adaptive intelligence and mobile devices or wearables to automate and streamline workplace safety while providing real time communication when a potential hazard arises, whether it’s a chemical spill or damages caused by the devastating tornadoes the United States experienced this past year. Organizations can also foster a safe work environment by leveraging Oracle Cloud HCM’s "Vaccination at Work” Journey where deskless workers can upload their proof of vaccination right from their phones within a matter of seconds. It’s super simple and intuitive. Oracle HCM’s “Return to the Workplace” Journey can be used for pre-shift screenings or customers can leverage attestation capabilities in Oracle Time and Labor’s intelligent web clock to let deskless workers answer the pre-shift health screening right before clocking in for work. If a worker doesn’t pass the screening, a journey can easily guide them to next steps such as reporting a leave of absence if they’ve indicated that they are not feeling well. All of these safeguards help workers have a sense of security and create a culture of feeling cared for by their employer ultimately increasing moral, loyalty, and productivity.


Time and money are king, especially to hourly deskless workers who are often living paycheck to paycheck, working multiple jobs to make ends meet and may have difficulty affording childcare. The majority of deskless workers have historically been given very little autonomy or flexibility when it comes to where and when they’ll work and what they’ll work on. Recent studies have shown that empowering these workers to have more control, flexibility, and stability in their schedules and giving some say in the locations and work they do, fosters an increase in productivity and a reduction in turnover because workers are generally happier. Oracle Workforce Management helps line managers view workers’ availability, plan weekly team shift assignments, and swap shifts for workers all while leveraging embedded intelligence to ensure that they aren’t over or under budgeted hours for each day. Once the manager is happy with the schedule, they can post it and workers are notified of schedule changes. Planned schedules from leading industry forecasting and demand scheduling or staffing systems can easily be imported into Oracle Cloud HCM leveraging real time web services and absence and work hours can be sent in return to these operational planning systems. Deskless workers can easily view their schedule from their mobile devices as well as view their peer’s schedule to know who else is scheduled to work the same shifts. Workers can also manage their absences from their mobile device and their availability, preferred workdays and hours can also be tracked. Oracle HCM helps organizations provide financial benefits to their workers through easy ways to access their earned wages early by submitting a request using Oracle Payroll’s Anytime Pay or Absence Management to request a pay out of their qualifying absence balances right from their mobile devices.  Oracle’s Workforce Management solutions have been designed to handle the most complex union and regulatory compliance requirements for extremely large global organizations.  Since Oracle Workforce Management is unified with Oracle Payroll, customers are able to pay their workers appropriately for what they are entitled to get for every minute they work.


While deskless workers may be part of a team at a given location, they are often distributed away from each other to get coverage of the tasks or jobs that need to be performed at a given location and sometimes, they may even be in different locations.  This makes it difficult to connect and really feel like part of the team. With the use of Oracle Digital Assistant on mobile devices, Journeys, Task Management, and Connections, deskless workers can be guided through tasks, stay informed, and collaborate with colleagues more easily. On the operations side, Oracle’s Supply Chain Management including Transportation Management, Manufacturing, Maintenance and Oracle’s Customer Experience solutions for B2C and Field Service all leverage these same technologies to provide collaboration and community for teams in their flow of work.  Speaking of the flow of work, Oracle Digital Assistant not only provides a conversational user experience, but also supports access to work through multiple flow of work channels, including SMS, which is easily accessible for many deskless workers.


Everyone desires to be appreciated and valued.  Recent studies show that one of the main factors influencing workers to leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated, this is an important area for organizations to focus on.  Oracle’s Talent Management solutions enable workers and managers to collaborate on their goals and have quick check in’s.  Managers can focus on coaching and giving recognition in the moment before the moment is lost.  Employees can also more easily track and reflect on their achievements.  One of my favorite features in Oracle Cloud HCM is Connections, which lets me easily give my peers kudos when they’ve done something that is outstanding. This kudos can be seen by their manager and anyone else in the organization as part of their Connections profile.  Another common way to reward deskless workers is with spot bonuses which can easily be accommodated in Oracle Time and Labor. Last but not least, for decades, many union organizations have had disciplinary policies in place to ensure fairness in how and when to reprimand workers with regards to their attendance violations. Some of our customers have taken a progressive approach by rewarding their workers for good attendance and hence creating a more positive experience and a compelling reason to show up to work and on time.  All of these solutions help team members and line managers recognize and reward the achievements people are making in the moment no matter where they are.


Nobody likes to be in a rut. Deskless hourly workers have often not been given much opportunity to advance in their careers, often leaving this type of worker in a vicious cycle of working hard for little pay.  When this happens, organizations suffer as well with high turnover and high replacement costs. Some of the most valuable and most loyal employees that a company can have are those who started out at the bottom and worked their way up. Oracle Opportunity Marketplace and Learning can help organizations promote more success stories like this by providing workers with insight into what skills they should work on to advance or take on other roles as well as providing them with experiences and learning to increase their knowledge and skills to propel them ahead.

In addition to all these great features that can provide a great work and life experience to the deskless workforce, the key to successful adoption with a deskless workforce is accessibility and usability. Where, when, and how these workers access an organization’s software to conduct business for things like capturing their time worked, viewing their pay slip, requesting early wage access, or receiving kudos or other communications is different than workers who are deskbound. Oracle’s mobile responsive user experience and digital assistant capabilities enables the best user experience for your workers so they can access these capabilities no matter where they are.

If your organization is ready to get out from behind the desk and roll out solutions to better meet your hourly deskless workers’ needs, we are here to help you become an employer of choice with tools that span across HCM, SCM, CX, and ERP and make work more human.

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Sherri Bartels

Sherri Bartels is a product strategy director for Oracle, focused on workforce management solutions.

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