14 juil. 2021

Digitalization of the Deskless Workforce: Untapped Potential Across Europe

Goppingen, July 14th, 2021 – In the digital age, the question — what relevance do future technologies such as the Internet of Things, augmented reality and artificial intelligence have for one’s own job? — is a fundamental one. However, a survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Handelsblatt Research Institute and TeamViewer reveals the relevance of digital technologies is not equally perceived across the workforce, largely due to their respective job situations being desk-based or deskless.

Are Deskless Workers Being Left Out of the Digitalization Process?

The survey, which took into account the opinions of around 3,160 desk workers, 2,000 deskless workers and 3,650 managers from ten European countries, revealed that desk workers rated the relevance of future technologies for their own profession significantly higher than the deskless workers. When desk-based and deskless employees were asked how important technologies and digital mega trends would become into their jobs, employees in office jobs (“desk workers”) revealed that technologies and mega trends such as cyber security (79%) and digital communication technologies / collaboration software (71%) would have the most relevance to them. Deskless workers — those working in field service, logistics or production for example — agreed on cyber security (52%) and digital communication technologies / collaboration software (45%), albeit with different weighting put on the importance.

By contrast, when it comes to even more visionary topics such as artificial intelligence or augmented reality, neither desk workers nor deskless workers seem to have a clear picture of how these technologies could shape their workplace of the future (Chart 1).

A similar picture emerges among the managers, who represented the employers, in Europe. They also expect a higher relevance of future technologies and mega trends such as Cyber Security (73%) and Cloud Computing (58%) for office jobs in the corporate departments (HR, accounting, etc.). For the activities of the deskless workers in logistics and production, however, these technologies and mega trends are considered less relevant (Cyber Security 63%, Cloud Computing 51%). On the other hand, they already seem to have a better understanding than employees of the importance that technologies such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality will have in the future (Chart 2).

Georg Beyschlag, Executive Vice President Strategy & Corporate Development at TeamViewer: “The survey shows that in many companies there is still no precise idea of how the working environments beyond the classic office jobs can be included into the digital transformation. Yet around 80 percent of all employees worldwide are part of this so-called ‘deskless workforce’. For most companies, this will become one of the great challenges of the digital age — how to integrate these deskless workspaces into digital processes so that these employees also benefit from the advantages of digitalization. With the right digital solutions businesses of all sizes can advance digitalization along their entire value chain.”

Only 13 percent of respondents from the employees’ side fear that new technologies will take over their work in the future. However, more than a quarter of employees (26%) expect that tedious routine tasks or dangerous activities could be taken away from them by new technologies in the future. Employers are even more optimistic. Around two thirds of employers (65 %) expect that their employees will be relieved of such tasks in the future (Chart 3).

In a country comparison, employees and employers in Italy, Poland and Spain tend to attach the highest importance to the influence of future technologies and digital mega trends on their profession. In contrast, employees and employers in the EU core countries Germany and France, in particular, only rate the importance of digital technologies and mega trends for their profession or their company, below average.

Conducted independently, on behalf of TeamViewer and the Handelsblatt Research Institute, the market research institute YouGov surveyed a total of 5,278 employees and 3,654 corporate decision-makers online between 12 and 22 April 2021, on the topics of future technologies, cooperation between humans and technology, remote work/home office, and qualification and further education. The survey was fielded in ten European countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.