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Deskless Workers Deserve Better Tech – ReadWrite

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Matt Fairhurst


The COVID-19 pandemic has turned traditional office life on its head as desk-based employees prepare for a possible new normal of remote work. As more workers clock in from home, the demand for productivity and collaboration tools has skyrocketed. But as this technical revolution continues to run its course, not all workforces are experiencing the change.

Deskless workers such as field service technicians, home healthcare providers, delivery workers and construction workers make up 2.7 billion people of the global working population. And yet, this workforce is frequently ignored by software companies. These workers often have trouble properly doing their jobs with one-size-fits-all software solutions that need a consistent internet connection and are devoid of mobile-friendly capabilities.

As the pandemic continues, the deskless workforce will only continue to grow — CIOs predict the number of mobile workers will increase by 62% in the next 12 to 24 months.

To support these remote jobs — especially those considered essential during the pandemic. Essential workers are the decision-makers; employers must equip their frontline employees with tools that are built for each individual mobile work role.

Companies that fail to adapt technology to the needs of their deskless and other remote workforce, risk not only poor execution of mobile work services but also the loss of valuable employees.

Inadequate software results in lost productivity

Although there are software development efforts aimed at the mobile workforce, organizations still haven’t invested in these tools at the same rate as they’ve invested in tools for desk-based workers. A recent study found that most organizations continue to rely on legacy tools for mobile work, with only 39% reporting their remote workers use software built for their specific needs. Furthermore, only 13% of these companies say their deskless workers’ needs are met by the platforms designed for them.

While the adoption of software for remote workers has been slow, IT leaders recognize how this inaction has added friction to the mobile workforce. Legacy software tools are complex, and remote workers often need to use more than one tool in their daily workflows.

For example, if a software application isn’t adaptable to mobile, the mobile workforce will require a separate technology to complete a single job — an all too common occurrence for many in the workforce. In fact, 100% of CIOs admitted that their mobile workforce is required to use two or more software solutions in their daily operations, with 18% requiring at least five or more tools.

Eighty-six percent of IT leaders agree that this dearth of supporting technology disrupts mobile workforce productivity.

Another common bottleneck lies in accessibility — IT leaders said 63% of their mobile-remote workers can only use their productivity software if they have access to a computer.

Your mobile workforce is throwing away time, money, and productivity in their struggle to use software tools that aren’t the right fit for their jobs. And the majority of CIOs agree — 67% recognize that they need to support their mobile-phone, remote workers — with additional software.

Instead of stacking software tools on top of each other, businesses must shift their technology to operate under a single process platform.

With a single platform, you can centralize all necessary information and employee resources into one easily accessible, digital thread to empower workers in these worker-roles. By equipping mobile workers with what they need to execute their jobs properly, you can boost output and demonstrate empathy for the challenges they face in the field.

Purpose-built solutions support productivity

Workers in office-based, white-collar jobs can typically count on reliable internet connections as well as colleagues who will fill them in on the details from any meetings they miss. Mobile workers, on the other hand, don’t have the same luxuries — and the resulting disruptions can heavily impede their operational processes. To streamline workflows for your mobile-phone workforce, focus on a handful of crucial workflow capabilities:

  • Data recording: Mobile employees such as service technicians and in-home medical workers are often tasked with extensive administrative work in their day-to-day duties. Consider tools that enable workers to reduce the time they spend on administrative tasks by completing them onsite.With offline access to software tools, deskless workers can take notes while they’re out in the field and focus their time on more important tasks at hand. The time saved also allows workers to complete jobs more efficiently and ultimately drive down costs over time.
  • Schedule flexibility: COVID-19 has made it challenging to consistently schedule staff visits for specialized in-home services, especially if a worker needs a last-minute replacement due to a conflict. While completing service is vital for business, your employees shouldn’t feel guilty for not fulfilling an appointment their schedule doesn’t allow.Workers also shouldn’t be stretched to meet obligations that derail their work-life balance. Solutions with flexible scheduling capabilities help mitigate conflicts by mapping workforce and customer needs in real-time. Real-time tracking also reduces canceled appointments by making it easier to identify replacements for last-minute changes.
  • Consistent connectivity: Deskless workers often lack reliable internet connectivity. For example, wireless internet signals in rural areas — many of which rely on mobile workforce services — typically aren’t as strong as those in more urban areas.Gaps in connectivity can lead to costly setbacks in daily processes for workers in the field and raise safety concerns for in-home appointment services. To keep your mobile workers connected, consider leveraging tools that allow them to access resources online or offline at their convenience. The ability to search for directions, enter data, and correspond with fellow colleagues ensures a consistent workflow with minimal bottlenecks.
  • Employee safety and support: Being constantly on the move with a rigorous schedule can cause many deskless workers to feel burned out on the job. Because of this risk, managers require technology that helps them stay in close contact with mobile employees to ensure they’re heard, have the right protective equipment (especially during the pandemic) and are aligned on proper safety measures. You can also equip your managers with the technology to better navigate their relationships with direct reports. Tools like check-in reminders and mass messages help bolster relationships by connecting deskless workers with management no matter where they may be in the field.
  • Process analytics: As the pandemic has demonstrated, workflow processes can change almost instantly. Analytical tools help your organization pivot and remain agile in today’s fluid operating environment. With access to traditionally disparate field information like the average travel time your deskless workers take from job to job and appointment cancellation rates, you can identify areas for performance improvement.

    Analytics tools can also compartmentalize and export data for third-party reporting projects. Consistently tracking and refining your processes to be more nimble can make your processes more efficient. The process ultimately benefits your deskless workers in the end by improving their work environment and adjusting processes to match their experiences in the field better.

 

Deskless workers are vital to the success of companies across many industries. While mobile work roles free employees from being tied to a desk, they also come with distinct physical, emotional and digital challenges that desk-based workers don’t face. And when these challenges go unchecked by management, they can create unnecessary stress on deskless employees, resulting in an exhausted workforce and high turnover rates.

As the deskless workforce continues to grow, it’s critical to play closer attention to the software gap. Change begins with applying technology to the specific needs of mobile workers to empower their success now and over the long term. However, a single tool can’t address mobile workforce challenges without proper support.

The right technology must also be accompanied by improved training, access to information, and dedicated employee check-ins to enact true structural change for the better. With these changes in place, you’ll lead your organization on the path towards supporting its deskless, all mobile workers, and the remote workforce, day in and day out.

Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto; Pexels

Matt Fairhurst

Matt Fairhurst is the co-founder and CEO of Skedulo, a leader in deskless productivity software. Matt’s background is in user experience and user interface design, and, from this, he has a passion for building great product. He spends his time working between the global headquarters in San Francisco and the engineering/product development headquarters in Brisbane, Australia.

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Why (and How) Startups Should Implement Performance Management Early – ReadWrite

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Why (and How) Startups Should Implement Performance Management Early – ReadWrite


A company is only as successful as its people. However, early-stage companies often deprioritize proper talent management and place all their focus on the day-to-day operations of the business. These companies eventually find themselves reaching a point where their talent management processes aren’t keeping up with growth.

Hiring and retaining the right talent for your organization is just as crucial as having a great service or product, especially in the early stages of building a company. In this article, we list some important considerations in implementing employee performance management for startups.

Implementing Employee Performance Management Early

1) Define company values

Firstly, startups should define their company values. Values are the guiding principles and fundamental beliefs of an organization, and there are many benefits in defining company values early on. For example, having a core set of company values makes it easier for a company to hire and retain employees with the right aptitudes. Moreover, values help shape company culture, which will influence employee experience, engagement, and productivity.

In addition to defining values, startups need to ensure that their values are communicated frequently. Only 27 percent of U.S. employees strongly agree that they believe in their organization’s values. Instead of simply listing values on your website, startups need to integrate values into their talent management process. They can do this by:

  • clearly and frequently communicating the company’s values
  • aligning core values with behaviors expected from employees
  • continuously monitoring employees’ actions and behaviors

Integrating values into the performance management process enables the employees to live and practice company values on a day-to-day basis. Companies can also make their values known during the hiring process – write the values in the job description and reiterate these values during the recruiting process.

Candidates and current employees should always be aware of the fundamental beliefs of the company. One tip on values – make them as actionable as possible. If one of your values is “honesty,” define specific behaviors that enforce and demonstrate honesty. (There are many resources (Korn Ferry, Iota Consultants, Ignition Group, etc.) that can help you define or adapt company values.)

“If I could go back and do Zappos all over again, I would actually come up with our values from day one.” – Tony Hsieh

2) Align goals

Effective performance management begins with goal alignment. Understanding company objectives is imperative. Half of the workforce doesn’t know what is expected of them. Managers should understand every company’s mission, clearly communicate the objectives, and make them easily accessible and visible for all team members (e.g., team-wide monthly progress report).

In terms of goal alignment, a common question that startups often face is “should I use OKRs?”

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are often used to cascade goals from the organizational level to the individual level. This can help create goal alignment as it helps employees understand how they contribute to organizational objectives.

OKRs are powerful; however, if a company’s strategies and objectives are frequently adapting (which is often the case in startups), the structured top-down approach of setting OKRs from the organizational level to department- and then to individual levels can be a hassle.

OKRs would need to be adjusted each time overall organizational strategies are changed. Frankly, this is a significant exercise that is not worth the time.

This doesn’t mean a company shouldn’t align goals. One approach is to set up OKRs at the organizational and department levels on a monthly basis and let managers delegate and own their key results and adapt as often as needed.

“Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.” – Jim Collins and Jerry Porra

3) Develop a culture of feedback

Feedback is crucial in the talent management process. There are many benefits to having regular feedback conversations with employees. Firstly, it motivates employees, thus increasing employee engagement & productivity. Secondly, it generates lots of employee performance data which can enable better training and talent decisions. Finally, it enables better work relationships which can have a significant impact on company culture.

While managers may avoid giving feedback due to fear of hurting an employee’s feelings, more than half of employees want corrective feedback over praise and recognition! Most employees want real-time feedback and recognition for jobs well done.

The younger generations (Millennials and Generation Z) want 50 percent more feedback than other generations. Sharing feedback can be challenging at first. Enforcing the right processes and rituals early on will help ingrain feedback into your company culture. It is worth noting that creating and sustaining a culture of feedback is easiest to implement early on.

When it comes to documenting feedback, pen-and-paper approaches can be sufficient for early-stage companies. If an organization has more than 15 people, it will highly benefit from a performance management system that helps store and analyze feedback, objectives, etc., in one place. Ultimately, this will help simplify the performance management process and enable people analytics to help make better talent and training decisions.

“Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.” – Ed Batista

Conclusion

Implementing a performance management process in the workplace early on will better equip startups in developing and motivating their employees and ultimately improve a startup’s success and growth.

Remember that culture and people cannot be replicated – these two factors often differentiate a startup from its competitors. Your culture and people are worth the investment upfront.

Image Credit: ron lach; pexels; thank you!

Chiara Toselli

Chiara Toselli is the Head of Marketing & Sales at Pavestep. She helps businesses manage their most important asset – their talent. She has published a variety of content about employee performance management, company culture, and many more topics in HR.

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Gabb Wireless Raises $14M in Series A Funding Led by Sandlot Partners and Taysom Hill – ReadWrite

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Deanna Ritchie


Gabb Wireless Raises $14M in Series A Funding Led by Sandlot Partners and Taysom Hill

Gabb Wireless™ set itself apart from the crowd in 2018 when Founder and CEO, Stephen Dalby said, “enough is enough,” and began his journey to provide the only safe phones-for-kids.

LEHI, UTAH – APRIL 20, 2021

 

Dave Jensen, Managing Partner of Sandlot Partners, announced today that, “Sandlot Partners is investing and partnering with Gabb Wireless not only because of its impressive growth and positioning to lead the $30 billion smartphones-for-kids market — but also because it is providing solutions to address the significant screen time addiction problem in our society.”

Gabb Wireless™ is the first of its kind — a company determined to protect children by providing a safe cellular network for kids and their phones. Gabb created the only safe phones-for-kids serving this underserved demographic. Gabb announced this week that it closed a $14 million round of Series A, led by Sandlot Partners and New Orleans Saints quarterback, Taysom Hill.

“As an investor, Gabb checked all the boxes with its impressive growth, founding team and total addressable market. But it’s so much more than that for me. It’s the emotional side of the investment. I love the idea that we can help build something to help save kids in an area with so much need and demand. My wife Emily and I try to be pretty selective of who we tie our brand to — and when considering the chance to invest and partner with Gabb, it was a no-brainer for us and something that we are extremely excited about,” said Saints quarterback, Taysom Hill.

Stephen Dalby, Gabb Founder & CEO, announced the partnership with Sandlot Partners and Taysom Hill. “We’re excited to announce our partnership with Sandlot Partners and Taysom Hill, who share our passion for driving impact and providing solutions to the growing screen addiction among adolescents.”

“Sandlot has a strong track record of fueling growth and adding value to their portfolio companies. Taysom’s accomplishments as a BYU and Saints quarterback are well documented, and he’s also very impressive off the field and will be a great brand ambassador for the younger demographic Gabb is targeting.”

Gabb Wireless

Kids need to be protected — and Gabb resolved on an action to do just that. Gabb set itself apart from the crowd in 2018 with a steadfast purpose to get safe, effective phones into the hands of parents who want to protect their children from inappropriate content and disturbing practices on social media and games, and other screen-time issues on the internet.

For some time, it’s been known that social media is affecting our youth with cyberbullying and other societal ills. The average child or pre-teen spends about four to seven hours a day of screen time. This disproportionate amount of time in front of a screen has caused depression, anxiety, and even sexual abuse among young adolescents.

Gabb said, “enough is enough,” and began its journey as a mobile virtual network operator, creating the safest technology available for children today. Gabb offers age-appropriate products to give kids the freedom to explore and their parent’s peace of mind. Children can enjoy their first phone experience with the affordable, $100 phone that protects them from internet dangers. Learn more at www.gabbwireless.com.

Gabb has had an unprecedented year of 471% growth and will use the proceeds from the Series A financing to accelerate efforts to provide safe phones for kids and expand its product lines — increasing Gabb’s total addressable market with these safe alternatives for parents of kids ages five to 15.

Sandlot Partners

Sandlot Partners is an independent private investment firm partnering with noteworthy management owners and founders. Sandlot Partners help maximize the growth potential of businesses by providing companies with growth capital, strategic guidance, and partial liquidity. Sandlot leverages its network of founders and operators, identifies growth opportunities, helps structure, and offers additional strong risk-adjusted private investment opportunities. Sandlot investors also include family offices, strategic individuals, and like-minded institutions seeking strong alignment and providing patient capital.

Cooley, LLP, and VLP Law Group provided legal services for this transaction.

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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How to Build a Startup Team With an Entrepreneurial Mindset – ReadWrite

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Nate Nead


Much of your startup’s success will depend on the quality and integrity of the team you put together. With talented, committed, hardworking people, even a merely decent idea can turn into something groundbreaking. Conversely, even a great idea can struggle to survive if it doesn’t have a solid team in place to support it. 

Obviously, you’ll need to work hard to choose the right people for your team – individuals with a solid experiential background, proof of ample talent, and genuine passion for the business. But beyond that, you’ll need to work actively to equip your team with the right mindsets and philosophies to guide them to productive, innovative work. 

While there are conflicting opinions for what type of company culture works “best,” there’s no denying that your company can (and likely will) benefit from building a team with an “entrepreneurial mindset.” But what is this mentality, and how can you construct it from scratch? 

What Is an “Entrepreneurial Mindset?” 

Let’s start with a description of the “entrepreneurial mindset.” This is an internalized mentality, philosophy, and approach to working within the members of your team that mimics what the most ambitious entrepreneurs tend to feel. 

The mindset includes: 

  • Creativity. Entrepreneurs are creative types. They want to create new ideas, modify existing ones, and come up with inventive new ways to deal with problems. They’re not afraid to think outside the box and try out new concepts – even if they don’t work out. They also like to encourage and promote creative ideas from other people, providing feedback, direction, and motivation to their teammates. 
  • Autonomy and independence. The entrepreneurial mindset also prioritizes autonomy and independence. Entrepreneurs in a business environment don’t wait for someone else to tell them what to do, and they generally don’t have to run their ideas through a bureaucratic chain of command to take action. Instead, they trust themselves, they operate decisively, and they remain agile. In an entrepreneurial environment, your employees will function autonomously in most cases as well. 
  • Change and growth. To be an entrepreneur is to accept the importance of change and growth. The only way for your business to reach more people and make more money is to evolve; that means adding new products and services, changing internal processes, and sometimes, pivoting the entire brand. 
  • Experimentation and adaptation. You probably already know how important it is to remain flexible and adaptable when growing your business. It’s also important for your workforce. With an entrepreneurial mindset, your team of employees will be much more likely to experiment with different approaches and adapt to new scenarios. 
  • Ambitious problem solving. Successful business owners are primarily ambitious problem solvers; they understand there’s some weakness or challenge in the world and are driven to “fix it.” With this mentality, your employees will be more likely to show enthusiasm when solving problems and rising to meet challenges. 

The Value of an Entrepreneurial Team 

So what’s the real value of an entrepreneurial team? 

For starters, you can cut back on direct management and oversight. When all members of your team feel like they have a direct impact on their work environment, and when they’re empowered to do their best, they don’t need as much direction or supervision. Instead of looking over their shoulder, giving them project details, or micromanaging your employees, you can set priorities for them, trust that they’re going to work toward them, and shift your attention to more important matters. This lends itself to a less stressed, more inviting workplace – and allows you to be more productive while tackling the most important projects for your startup

An entrepreneurial mindset also leads to a diversity of thought. When individuals are encouraged to have their own ideas, thoughts, and opinions, they tend to speak more openly in a collaborative environment. They’re more willing to volunteer ideas, offer constructive criticism, and provide meaningful feedback to each other. Such an environment makes it much easier to identify and get rid of bad ideas (before it’s too late), while simultaneously establishing the groundwork for the presentation of highly ingenious concepts. 

Additionally, startups need to keep adapting if they’re going to stay alive. Over time, your target market might change, you might face new competition, and new challenges will threaten your previous approaches. The only way forward is to adapt, incorporating new systems and processes and changing your infrastructure. Ordinarily, teams of employees are reluctant to adapt – after all, most of us don’t particularly like change. However, when the team accepts the importance and value of ongoing adaptability, they’ll be much more likely to be onboard with your latest changes and experiments. 

How to Build a Startup Team With an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Now for the big question – how can you build an entire startup team with a baked-in entrepreneurial mindset? 

  • Create the culture. Everything stems from your company culture. Before you employ any of the following strategies, make sure you have a solid idea for what you want your company culture to be. What are your core values? What is the “ideal” employee mindset? How should this mindset be fostered? What rules exist, if any, to enforce this? Document your company culture guidelines first. 
  • Choose the right candidates. With a culture document in place, you’ll find it much easier to interview candidates – and find out whether they’re a good fit for this environment. Even if they have a lot of talent and experience, they may not thrive in an entrepreneurial workplace; figure this out early, before you hire someone. 
  • Lead by example. You’re the leader, so set the tone. People will follow your example. Whatever habits you want your employees to practice, incorporate them into your own daily work. 
  • Nurture from the top down. You’re not the only leader within your organization, so make sure you select and support strong leaders who can embody and spread your desired entrepreneurial culture from the top down. 
  • Encourage independent management and decision making. Sometimes, employees will have to run their idea “up the ladder” before taking action. But as much as possible, it’s important to encourage autonomy and independent decision making. Empower your employees to make their own decisions, set their own goals, and devise their own approaches to work.  
  • Stimulate creativity. Creativity is vital for an entrepreneurial mindset to thrive. Use creative brainstorming sessions, music, art, and other exercises to encourage your team to think in novel ways. 
  • Get everyone to contribute in meetings. Encourage every member of your team to contribute in your meetings. More contributors will foster an environment of openness and collaborative sharing; it will also help you ferret out the best ideas, which otherwise might be held back by nervous participants. 
  • Reward good ideas. When a member of your team comes up with a good idea or solves a complex problem, reward them and publicly praise them. It will encourage further idea generation in the future and motivate other team members to volunteer their own ideas. 
  • Respect bad ideas. It’s not just about good ideas; it’s also important to tolerate and even respect bad ideas. When someone volunteers a questionable idea or makes a poor decision, show your support. Feel free to offer feedback and criticism, but don’t make the person feel bad for trying to do something inventive or helpful. You don’t want to punish people for trying something new. 
  • Remain adaptive. The most innovative, disruptive businesses are the ones that can adapt. Encourage your team members to remain similarly adaptable, keeping an open mind for new ideas and being willing to change when necessary. 

Once your team is full of people thinking and acting like entrepreneurs, your company will be much more flexible, innovative, and productive. And best of all, this entrepreneurial culture tends to be self-sustaining; your employees will naturally spread it to new recruits and continue to foster this creative, efficient environment. 

Nate Nead

Nate Nead is the CEO & Managing Member of Nead, LLC, a consulting company that provides strategic advisory services across multiple disciplines including finance, marketing and software development. For over a decade Nate had provided strategic guidance on M&A, capital procurement, technology and marketing solutions for some of the most well-known online brands. He and his team advise Fortune 500 and SMB clients alike. The team is based in Seattle, Washington; El Paso, Texas and West Palm Beach, Florida.

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