How to choose and introduce new software to your deskless employees

Implementing new technology for your team to use can be a lot of work. Especially with deskless employees, it can be a challenge to introduce a new employee app, as they may not be not used to digital tools as much as people who work in an office. There are always a few who are reluctant to adopt new processes, and some might be against using anything digital altogether. 

However, a great team management tool will make life easier for everyone, so it’s important to help your employees start using the new software in a way that’s convenient for them.

Reaching your workforce can be tricky when they’re on the go. A good team management app makes life easier for both managers and employees.

Choosing the right productivity app for your team

Picking an app that is right for your team  is already half the battle won. Office software isn’t usually a good choice as a deskless workforce app. Although it could have mobile capabilities, it is optimized for a person sitting behind a computer. If your employees spend most of their time working at the client or some other computer-less premises, they’ll probably want to check in with their tasks and assignments over a mobile device.

Connectivity with other applications is also something to consider. Are you already using an HR database that needs to connect with your employee app? Is there a need to update your employees with information from the warehouse? 

Having everything in one app sounds like a dream, but usually it’s a rule that an app that seems to do everything, does nothing well in reality. There are some exceptions, but they tend to come with an extremely hefty price tag and take a long time to implement. In general, there are two ways to go with choosing the app: 

Deskless team management apps with an industry focus

When you’re working in a field that requires expert workforce, it might make sense to choose team software that offers industry-specific features. This is the best way to go when dispatching service technicians or scheduling truck drivers. For these use cases, it makes sense to use an app that is built specifically for your industry and supports the rest of the business needs in addition to people management.

Generic management apps for deskless teams

When employee scheduling and communication can be kept separate from other business needs, the choice of apps is much wider. After all, many small businesses successfully manage their workforce through plain old  e-mail and whatsapp channels! 

We already recommended that on-demand teams stay away from office-oriented software (like Asana, Jira, Wrike and Trello). But even deskless workforce apps can have a very different set of features. 

Some apps are focused on supporting the full-time employee experience, providing them with a mobile view of their schedule and HR announcements. Some are built for contingent workforce and let the workers schedule and exchange their own shifts. 

It is important to figure out what your needs are, make a wish list, and then shop around with software providers. Software comparison portals like G2 and GetApp let you conveniently browse apps in different categories, and book a presentation with the app developers. 

Onboarding your whole team to a productivity app is a huge investment in terms of time and effort, so it’s important to be 100% sure that the app has all the features that you need before proceeding.

Introducing your deskless workforce to a new app

However great a piece of software may be, it is never a magical solution that will implement itself. Successfully onboarding all of your employees to use an app is a lot of work, but it will be easier with some good preparation

  1. Get to know the app yourself.
    You should become a super-user before implementing the software of your choice. It’s best to involve another person from your organization to play through the different scenarios. It’s important that you understand how employees and administrators should interact with the app before sending out any onboarding instructions to the actual workforce.

     
  2. Create a setup that makes sense for your own workflow.
    There is usually more than one way to configure an app for your use case. For simple apps, it may be a matter of creating groups and categories, for more complex software you may need to reach out to your in-house IT department or work with the app developers.

  3. Design an onboarding experience
    It’s useful to populate your new app with custom content so that your workforce isn’t confused when they land in an app with an empty dashboard. Create some simple content for them to interact with, like an example schedule where they can practice what it looks like to check in to their shift.

  4. Test your onboarding experience
    When you’ve already spent some time using the app, things can start looking obvious to you. Invite a colleague to test your setup and start using the app while you’re watching. This kind of basic user testing can point out some simple shortcomings in your project setup that you can fix before inviting the whole team on board.

  5. Produce easy instructions
    While it may feel that good instructions are thorough instructions, people rarely enjoy learning from a long PDF document with screenshots. If you cannot host live training sessions, consider recording a video where you demonstrate the basic interactions. Make sure the employees have an easy way of reaching out to you with any technical or non-technical questions. And be aware that some people who are less tech-savvy  may need a personal onboarding session.
Creating some sample content in your app can really help your workforce to learn the ropes much faster and understand what is expected of them.

Refining the experience on your team management app

Once your team has onboarded, plan to spend some time on refining the workflows on your app based on their feedback. There’s a lot you can adjust by simply re-writing the instructions, re-wording your group titles, or adjusting your shift categories. 

Using team productivity software is never a set it and forget it experience. As a team manager, you should continuously be on the lookout for upgrading the app experience for your workforce. It is common to have continuous feature upgrades launched by your software provider, and you may also come up with better configurations once you’re more familiar with your app.

If you’re looking for solutions for your deskless workforce, be sure to check out Zelos. It’s a simple communication tool with built-in task management, with an ultimate focus on making the employee onboarding easy as pie.