Chrome Enterprise

Don’t leave frontline workers behind: The case for cloud-native devices

Retail Frontline worker

What does a physician’s assistant, a police records technician, a retail sales associate, and an automobile quality assurance worker have in common? They all work on the front lines of an organization. For some, this means interacting directly with customers or patients. For others, it involves building, checking  or delivering goods or services. No matter the job, they all make work happen

Because they interact directly with customers, or with the creation of goods and services, frontline workers can be some of the most important employees in an enterprise, yet they’re frequently underserved when it comes to up-to-date tools and technology. 

Fortunately, that’s starting to change, and we shared the ways several Google Cloud customers are bringing cloud-native technologies to the front lines in our previous post, “5 ways IT leaders can invest in their frontline workers with Chromebooks and G Suite.”

But we also wanted to get a deeper understanding of what the frontline workforce wants and needs when it comes to technology adoption, as well as what gets in its way. In May, we commissioned an independent study with Forrester to explore exactly that, and below you’ll find  a snapshot of what we learned, directly from frontline workers themselves. 

The frontline workforce faces obstacles to completing core job tasks
Happy and productive employees can mean both lower workforce attrition and higher customer satisfaction, leading to more sales. But it can be hard to deliver that productivity when employees grapple with  dysfunctional technology, which can interrupt flow, slow down performance, or stop work in its tracks.

The frontline workforce in particular is slowed down by technology in a few ways, including: device operating failure or required rebooting after updates; slow or outdated systems; and a lack of immediate access to critical information.

This information gap can be crippling because frontline workers often need access to multiple sources of information to do their jobs. According to the survey, 46 percent of frontline workers reported they have to ask customers to wait while they hunt down information at least once a week, if not more. Both employee and customer experiences suffer as a result.

What the frontline workforce wants is clear from the Forrester survey results:

  • Devices that are secure from external threats

  • Easy, instant communication with teammates, managers, and leadership

  • Continuous productivity, rather than glitchy or slow-operating systems

  • Self-service information on-demand to help them do their jobs

Download the report to read more specifics on these findings. 

Filling the technology gap for the frontline workforce 
Forrester findings suggest that businesses can address frontline workforce needs by adopting cloud-native technologies because they’re easy to use and deploy for employees, as witnessed in worker responses. 

For example, only 12 percent of the frontline workers surveyed found it difficult to use work-related applications accessed via a web browser. That means that the other 88 percent of workers felt comfortable using apps that are browser-based to do their jobs. 

Taking this a step further, an additional report that we commissioned with Forrester in 2018 reviewed the economic impact of adopting cloud-native solutions, like Chrome OS and G Suite. In that report, research suggests that businesses could stand to benefit from hidden cost savings when adopting cloud-native tools, including more than $477,000 in IT management and services savings.

If you couple those findings with these frontline workforce insights, the opportunity presents itself: going cloud-first can increase productivity, employee retention and engagement and mobility for businesses, all at a lower cost.

To learn more about the perspectives of the frontline workforce, read the full study, or watch an on-demand webinar recording on the technology gap for frontline workers featuring J. P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.