Why Economic Recovery Rests on Leaders Caring for Deskless Workers

Kit Kyte, the CEO of Checkit, shows why economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic will be determined by leaders looking after their non-office workforce.

Over the years, perks at work have evolved from pensions to pool tables so we’d be forgiven for believing that employee welfare is the number one priority for boards around the world. In reality, it hasn’t been. Not for everyone, anyway.

Recovery Will Fall Flat

For years, the biggest part of our workforce has been underserved, ignored and ill equipped: the deskless employee. As we emerge from the pandemic, this is something that needs to be addressed by business leaders or any long-term recovery will fall flat.

The 2.7 billion deskless workers around the world represent the largest collective group of employees – around 80% of the world’s workforce. Yet, many of the technological solutions to progress businesses have been designed solely for the use of deskbound workers. As a result, the deskless have suffered from tools that aren’t fit for purpose or manual paper-based processes that exist because of legacy or lack of a better option. In an era of remote-based work and ubiquitous consumer technology, it needs to be addressed.

Years of Neglect Taking Its Toll

A year ago we were applauding healthcare workers. Today, we’re seeing the value in haulage drivers. Come December, we’ll be thankful for those in agriculture for our Christmas dinner. Yet years of neglect is taking its toll with many deskless employees now walking rather than talking.

Deskless employees’ well-being is at an all-time low and anxiety at an all-time high. According to this study, 43% of deskless employees have felt pressure to take shifts that they didn’t want and 37% thought that asking for a scheduling change would be viewed negatively by their management – factors leading to a poor work-life balance and a high burnout rate. It’s the equivalent of a financier being asked to deliver results and complete their workload but using a Fisher Price children’s computer instead of a high-spec office setup. The pressure perpetuates and the cycle of frustration and failure repeats until something gives. This is why the plight of the deskless must be addressed.

A year ago we were applauding healthcare workers. Today, we’re seeing the value in haulage drivers. Come December, we’ll be thankful for those in agriculture for our Christmas dinner.

Kit Kyte
CEO, Checkit


Businesses Are Blind to Dark Operations

It’s not the fault of the deskless workers. They are digitally disconnected with pen-and-paper checklists, disparate spreadsheets and siloed legacy systems creating black holes of insight and control. This is leaving businesses blind to risks and in danger of missing opportunities – something known as the dark operations of the organisation. Yet these are everyday issues that can be easily addressed with the right culture, approach and investment.

Shining a light on these dark operations has a dual benefit. It not only provides the business with insights and detail to improve and increase efficiencies, but it also provides the deskless with tools, information and techniques that are fit for purpose. This will help them in their work and lead to better rates of retention, productivity and performance. What’s not to like?

Digitisation Is the Essential Next Step

Step one in addressing this is to recognise that paperwork and spreadsheets are not scalable for an organisation that needs a single point of truth. Digitisation is the essential next step toward a single view. Even with digital data sources, however, there’s scope for further integration.

An organisation might have narrow legacy technology in place such as staff rostering or audit tools, but these are often inflexible, limited in scope and disconnected from broader platforms. Businesses need to find ways to bring different data streams under one digital roof not only to simplify analysis but to connect an organisation’s most integral assets — its people, buildings and equipment. Imagine, for example, the efficiency gains if cleaning activity was prompted by footfall data from a smart building system rather than an immovable daily schedule.

Real-Time Agility

The problem with many incumbent reporting mechanisms is that they are purely retrospective. They take a checklist approach that only looks back. Has a job been done? Yes, or no? It’s an approach that fuels dark operations, depriving businesses of the actionable insight they need to drive future improvement. Forward-looking businesses should be asking what they can do to empower deskless employees, with analytics driving better decisions at all levels.

Leaders need to be able to see what’s working and what’s not — not in the next set of monthly reports but right now. The key questions (who, what, where, when and how) can be answered if it is made easy for employees to log their activity with sensor networks leveraged for continuous monitoring. Businesses must capture this front-line activity – not with paperwork that’s damaged, lost, late or falsified – but with digital tools that not only capture the key information, but that also augment and add value to employees.

Recovery Rests on the Deskless

The rise of intelligent operations – combining smart people, smart buildings and smart assets – will be a key enabler in how we recover economically from the pandemic, and how quickly. But it means that business leaders must prioritise their deskless workers. They must do so now.


Kit Kyte
CEO, Checkit

Kit Kyte only joined Checkit in February 2021 as the Chief Commercial Officer, but has already been appointed CEO after overseeing the successful transformation of sales and marketing to drive significant growth in prospective revenue. Kit was previously the Vice President of Sales at Genpact, where he led European sales with an annual value of over £100m. His extensive leadership experience includes numerous combat roles as an Army Officer in the Royal Gurkha Rifles, as well as a consistent record of leadership success in the private sector.