Last week marked a milestone for the DESKLESS community: our first Spark Session! These virtual events combine an exclusive experience (this one was a tea and chocolate pairing with a tea sommelier!) with an insightful roundtable discussion with industry leaders – plus networking breakout sessions at the end.
For our first Spark Session, the theme of the roundtable discussion was spilling the tea – we pushed our speaker lineup to share what’s keeping them up at night – and their best-kept secrets for leading frontline teams.
And believe us: this was a stacked speaker line up. We’re talking Tony Weisman, Advisor and former CMO of Dunkin’, Norman de Greve, CMO of CVS Health, and Lindsey Goodchild, CEO and Co-Founder of Nudge.
Wondering what they talked about? Below are three of our favourite conversations from the event.
1. The labor crisis is still raging – but not for the reasons you’d think
The biggest challenge when it comes to leading frontline workers? “Finding enough of them,” says CVS Health CMO Norman de Greve. “We’re out looking for another 25,000 people.”
But while actually finding workers is a challenge for frontline and deskless organizations, the trickier hurdle is getting them to stay. “Fundamentally, you’ve got to create a place that people want to work at,” says de Greve. “You’ve really got to think about what’s the environment you put them in? And how do you connect with them?”
It’s what former Dunkin’ CMO Tony Weisman calls “the pressing reality of finding, keeping, and inspiring.” And while the pandemic is undoubtedly the cause of this labor shortage, it’s not just about government subsidies and safety concerns – it’s also about a radical shift in the way the world works.
“Work has changed in the last couple of years at a rate that none of us expected,” explains Weisman. “I love deskless as a term to describe the new type of work that’s done by millions of people in thousands and thousands of different ways. And because there’s all those opportunities for people to have a lot more flexibility over their own scheduling, the type of work, where and how they work, that’s led to a problem. Which is that people are pickier and moving around more. Not just between jobs – but between cities and lifestyles.”
2. We’re at a tipping point for for the frontline employee experience
When discussing the importance of innovation in frontline organizations, Nudge CEO Lindsey Goodchild talked about how happy she is to see new technology and new investments being placed on companies that are focused on serving the deskless workforce.
“It’s really exciting, because traditionally, venture capital is not really flowing into the deskless space,” says Goodchild. “But in the past two or three years, that’s significantly changed. There is so much opportunity for innovation.”
And employees are starving for this innovation. “They see a huge opportunity for technology to come in and help make a difference,” says Goodchild. “We’re at this really exciting tipping point where everybody’s recognizing that 80% of the world is deskless, and the technology investment there has been less than it should have been. But I think that the last 18 months have shown us so many opportunities. And so I think we’re just at the beginning of a lot of new, new, new when it comes to technology for this space.”
The panel discussed how the deskless workforce’s hunger for technology and innovation also speaks to the evolution of how people process information.
“We have 180,000 people in our stores. The average person working in our stores is a millennial – and they process information fundamentally differently. But our technology systems, like most companies, are built up for legacy systems,” explains de Greve. He used sharing company values as an example of how ineffective communication can be when you pair legacy technology with the modern frontline:
“Here’s what could happen. We communicate our values to our frontline, it goes into like some Times new Roman font on a to-do list – like, here are the new values. And then it shows up on a screensaver of some cash register. And like, let’s just be honest, that’s not going to do anything. But if you had the ideal world, where like you were demonstrating your values in a social media interface, where people could see how you’re really committing to them over and over again, it’s visceral. It’s connected to them in a way they process information today, and they would believe you a lot more. So technology can help you get there a lot faster than the traditional way.”
3. The future of frontlines: high-tech and empathetic
Technology was a common discussion point throughout the panel – as was our speakers’ excitement around where these new innovations will take us in the coming years.
“I think that we are about to enter an era where the real and the virtual really are starting to come together in meaningful ways,” says Weisman. “Look at this conversation we’re having right here, compared to what it would have been like two years ago, on a dial-in conference call. Now, that’s not to say that this is a replacement for being in a room together, but if you think about where things were, we’re moving. And I think that the people who are responsible for creating technology going forward are becoming even more and more aware of the importance of making it feel human and empathetic and connected. If you’re in the world of using technology to solve problems, I think this is an exciting time to be doing it.”
For de Greve, technology is driving his industry to completely transform. “The future of healthcare is completely changing,” he says. “It is going to rely on a much more distributed workforce. It could be in your home, it could be in a clinic, could be in a store, it could be lots of places. And that’s going to use a different workforce. And it’s going to use a workforce that’s more consistently interacting with people. And it’s going to revolve around solving the fundamental needs of consumers. I’m really excited about where health is. And I think it’s actually going to, it’s going to be a fundamentally different model than what we all grew up with.”
“No matter the industry that you’re in, we’re just entering a new era of how we do things,” adds Lindsey. “And I think they’re going to be more human and more fun. I think that the future is really bright. As much as the last year and a half has been really difficult. I think at the end of the day; it has pushed us all in different ways. And those are skills that we’re going to carry forward.”
Want more? Remember: we’ve got three more key takeaways from this event:
4. The biggest mistake most frontline leaders (including our panel!) make
5. A trick the US Army can teach us about prioritizing agility and adaptability
6. The secret to building trust with the most skeptical generation ever, Millennials
But to get this exclusive content, you need to join the DESKLESS app! Download the app today in the App Store or on Google Play and use the code #DESKLESS when signing up! But don’t wait: we’ll be sharing these three mind-blowing conversations (including exclusive video from the event!) soon.