Best Practices for Onboarding Deskless Workers

Bryan Herijanto

Onboarding deskless workers can present unique challenges, especially when it comes to communication, training, and access to resources. In this article, we outline Mercu's practices for onboarding deskless workers that will ensure a smooth transition into their new roles and set them up for success.

Understanding Deskless Workers

Before diving into the specifics of onboarding deskless workers, it's essential to understand who they are and the vital role they play in today's workforce.

Who are Deskless Workers?

Deskless workers are individuals who perform job functions without the use of a fixed computer workstation. They are often on the go, working in environments that require them to physically move around, such as in construction or retail. Deskless work often involves high levels of physical activity, face-to-face interactions with customers, and a significant amount of multitasking.

Deskless workers can be found in a variety of industries, including healthcare, hospitality, transportation, and manufacturing. They are the backbone of many businesses, performing essential tasks that keep operations running smoothly.

The Importance of Deskless Workers in Today's Workforce

The role of deskless workers is becoming increasingly important in modern businesses. Their interactions with customers can make or break a company's reputation, and they may also be responsible for promoting brand awareness and driving sales. Despite the critical role they play, they are often overlooked when it comes to onboarding and support.

Deskless workers are often the face of a company, interacting directly with customers and representing the brand. They must be knowledgeable about the products or services they are selling and be able to provide excellent customer service. They are often the first point of contact for customers, and their interactions can have a significant impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Unique Challenges Faced by Deskless Workers

Deskless workers face unique challenges when it comes to onboarding, including limited access to technology and the traditional training environment, a lack of face-to-face interaction with managers and coworkers, and limited visibility into company-wide initiatives and culture.

Many deskless workers do not have access to a computer or email, making it difficult for them to receive important information or training materials. They may also have limited access to company intranets or other internal communication channels, making it challenging to stay informed about company news and updates.

Deskless workers may also feel disconnected from the rest of the company, as they often work independently or in small teams. They may not have the same opportunities to build relationships with coworkers or participate in company-wide initiatives and events. This lack of connection can lead to feelings of isolation and disengagement.

Overall, understanding the unique challenges and importance of deskless workers is essential for any business looking to succeed in today's fast-paced, customer-focused environment.

Preparing for Deskless Worker Onboarding

Effective onboarding begins well before the first day on the job. It involves planning, clear communication, and an understanding of the unique needs of deskless workers. Deskless workers, who are often on-the-go, require an onboarding process that is tailored to their needs and provides them with the tools and resources necessary to succeed in their roles.

Establishing Clear Communication Channels

Effective communication is critical to the success of any onboarding program, but it is especially important for deskless workers. These workers may not have regular access to a computer or email, so it is important to establish clear communication channels that they can easily access. This may include setting up a dedicated employee app or using text messaging to send important updates and information.

Additionally, employers should provide deskless workers with contact information for their managers and coworkers and encourage open lines of communication. This can help ensure that workers feel supported and have the resources they need to succeed in their roles.

Creating a Comprehensive Onboarding Plan

Deskless workers require a comprehensive onboarding plan that takes into account their unique needs. Employers should begin by mapping out the onboarding process and creating a checklist of tasks that need to be completed. This can help ensure that nothing is overlooked and that the onboarding process is thorough and effective.

It is also important to involve key stakeholders in the planning process to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of what is expected. This may include HR, IT, and department managers, as well as the deskless workers themselves.

Ensuring Access to Necessary Tools and Resources

Deskless workers may not have access to the same tools and resources as their office-based counterparts. Employers should ensure that workers have access to the technology and resources they need to do their jobs effectively. This may include providing mobile devices, access to internal communication tools, and training on specific software or processes.

It is also important to provide deskless workers with the necessary safety equipment and training, especially if they work in hazardous environments. This can help ensure that workers are able to perform their jobs safely and effectively.

Overall, effective onboarding for deskless workers requires careful planning, clear communication, and a focus on providing workers with the tools and resources they need to succeed in their roles. By taking these steps, employers can help ensure that their deskless workers feel supported and are able to contribute to the success of the organization.

Effective Onboarding Techniques for Deskless Workers

Effective onboarding techniques for deskless workers require a shift away from traditional methods. Instead, employers should adopt mobile and remote training options, implement mentorship programs, and promote team building and social integration.

Utilizing Mobile and Remote Training Methods

Mobile and remote training methods are essential for deskless workers who may not have access to traditional training environments. Employers should provide on-the-go training options that can be accessed from mobile devices or laptops. They should also provide video or written materials that can be accessed remotely, allowing workers to complete training at their own pace.

Implementing a Buddy System or Mentorship Program

A buddy system or mentorship program can help deskless workers feel supported and connected. Employers should assign new hires a mentor or buddy who can answer questions, provide feedback, and offer guidance throughout the onboarding process. This connection can also help workers feel more connected to their coworkers and company culture.

Encouraging Team Building and Social Integration

Deskless workers often miss out on team-building opportunities that are available to their office-based counterparts. Employers should encourage team-building activities that are inclusive of deskless workers, such as off-site events or social gatherings. These activities can help establish a sense of community and promote teamwork.

Providing Ongoing Support and Feedback

Onboarding for deskless workers should not be a one-time event. Employers should provide ongoing support, such as regular training and coaching sessions, to ensure that workers continue to develop skills and perform at their best. Employers should also encourage feedback from workers to address any concerns or areas for improvement.

Evaluating the Success of Your Onboarding Program

Measuring the success of your onboarding program is essential to identifying areas of improvement and ensuring that deskless workers are set up for long-term success.

Tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Employers should track key performance indicators, such as employee retention rates, productivity, and customer satisfaction, to evaluate the success of their onboarding programs. Measuring KPIs can identify areas of improvement and help employers make informed decisions about future onboarding initiatives.

Gathering Feedback from Deskless Workers

Gathering feedback from deskless workers is critical to understanding their unique needs and improving the onboarding process. Employers should provide opportunities for workers to give feedback, such as surveys or focus groups. This feedback can help employers identify areas for improvement and ensure that deskless workers feel valued.

Continuously Improving Your Onboarding Process

Effective onboarding for deskless workers is an ongoing process. Employers should continue to evaluate the success of their programs and make improvements as needed. A continuous improvement approach can ensure that deskless workers feel supported and valued, leading to better employee retention rates and a more engaged workforce.


Onboarding deskless workers can present unique challenges, but with careful planning and best practices, it can be a smooth transition into their new roles. Employers should take into account the unique needs of deskless workers, including communication, access to resources, and effective training. By adopting mobile and remote training options, establishing mentorship programs, and promoting team building and social integration, employers can set deskless workers up for long-term success.

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