The Power of the Connected Worker

Aug 20, 2021 9:49:01 AM

Technology has made so much possible in the world of business and industry that would have been deemed impossible even a few years ago.  New technologies and processes are invented and commercialized continuously, materially changing the way we work and the world we live in. 

Is your organization being left behind? Are you still using pen-and-paper to collect data in the field?  Is your task scheduling still manual relying on emails and phone calls?  Are you using your real-world experience and collected field data to improve processes and improve operations?  If not - let us introduce you to “the connected worker.”

Connected workers are often safer, more productive, and more cost-efficient. Not only that, but their job satisfaction improves when they feel their company is listening to what they have to say about using technology to improve performance.

So what is a connected worker, and how can you make the most of your workforce?

Connecting Your Workforce

With the sudden pivot to a majority remote workforce for many businesses in 2020 due to the global pandemic, many workers are more connected now than they’ve ever been. However, those connections are not always as optimal as they could be.

Utilizing company email, chat, messaging, and video conferencing apps is nothing new anymore. While those things can maintain communication when people aren’t in the same place, they don’t do much to streamline workflows or improve the performance of team members whose jobs routinely take them into the field.

Your remote teams have unique requirements that simply can’t be met if all your technological improvements are focused on your primary office locations. For example, your field workers may need access to remote on-the-job work instructions instruct, schematics, spec-sheets and manuals, dynamic instructions that respond as the task is executed, digital checksheets that work online and offline, and the ability to collect asset or plant diagnostic and operational data.  

Creating Connection

You need a connected worker platform on which to build the framework that will connect your workers. But what is a connected worker platform?

A connected worker platform combines software, hardware, and customized apps to give your teams access to relevant information, create efficient data collection and sharing avenues, and allow workers to leverage the latest mobile and hands-free technology to do their jobs better.

M-Connect Field Services is an excellent example of this kind of platform. As a cloud-native platform, M-Connect Field Services allows you to develop and host apps that connect your workers in the field with your company’s home offices, with key information needed to accomplish tasks. All parties knowing what needs to be done by whom by when online or offline.

M-Connect is powered by an excellent engine for mobile app development that integrates with RealWear® - which provides a wearable hardware platform.  This means that your connected workers can perform functions like complete field inspections and maintain plant through accessing voice-controlled, hands-free checksheets or work instructions to execute tasks, with improved efficiency, safety and within the context of optimized work controls and task scheduling.

Benefits of Connected Workers

How, specifically, do remote collaboration tools benefit your workers? What can a connected worker software system that includes support for RealWear® devices deliver to your team in the field that a clipboard and a personal cell phone can’t?

A 2018 Deloitte study showed that 44% of workers in both white and blue-collar roles wanted an increased technological presence to improve their jobs. In the years since, technology has improved by leaps and bounds.

Here are just a few of the ways incorporating remote collaboration technology can benefit your workers and your company.

Safety

Thanks to M-Connect Field Services, a new level of connected worker safety will open up for your team.

Using a voice-controlled, hands-free headset to pull up schematics and record data means your workers don’t have to try to juggle a tablet or a hard copy of a blueprint while performing their duties. Taking away potential distractions and allowing your team members the full use of both hands improves their focus on the task at hand and reduces the risk of an accident. An accident may still happen, but you ensure that your response to a dangerous incident is as swift as possible by connecting your workers.

Communication

It feels like it goes without saying, but a significant advantage of having connected workers is that your workers are connected to each other. 

That connection makes collaboration with remote teams a more integrated part of your business. When unconnected field teams interact with customers, there is a chance that they may answer questions with inaccurate or out-of-date information. That doesn’t happen when they can pull up the correct information with a simple voice command.

Using RealWear®, workers can communicate with each other in the field and with off-site supervisors directly or as part of a voice/video conference. Headsets also allow 1st person point of view sharing, so if a member of your team is having trouble resolving a task, another team member can see what they see and offer a virtual helping hand.

Productivity and Efficiency

This is where your connected worker solutions pay the most trackable dividends and return on investment. According to the 2018 Deloitte report mentioned earlier, the average worker can lose as much as 8% of their workweek waiting for information they need to complete a task.

That’s a few hours every week! That’s more than a full workday a month and about two full weeks a year just waiting around. With optimized remote working collaboration tools and workflows, that wasted time can be all but eliminated.

Workers in the field can pull up the information they need on equipment and service plans instantly. The data they gather can be pulled up and analyzed by team members in a central hub right away via creating a virtual workspace.

Think about how data used to be gathered by the majority of companies. Using a pen and paper to gather data is slow, the paper can be damaged or lost before it gets back to the office, poor handwriting can mean that collected data is essentially useless, and until that paper gets to the home office, you aren’t getting anything useful from it.

And there are still companies sending people out with clipboards! Think how much more their teams could accomplish with a modern set of tools!

Automation

Additional benefits of virtual workspace optimization is incorporating automation. When connected workers can easily track their processes using the custom platform you’ve created, you can identify procedural bottlenecks and pain points.

That can mean integrating your content management software with your field service platform so that the data collected in the field automatically populates in relevant programs as it is gathered.

Bridging the connected worker/IoT gap allows for maintenance notifications to be automatically sent out to workers by the equipment itself. That means your customers can get their needs met before those needs become an emergency—and in the world of heavy industry, that can mean saving your customers millions of dollars.

Continuous Improvement

The added benefit of digitizing these processes is the data!  Simple analysis of the task scheduling, queue, and execution data, can lead to optimized workflows and work allocation.

Analysis of collected field data can lead to worker, plant and asset performance metrics which enable the smart organization to identify operational and safety incident trends, provide real-time data for management, optimize asset maintenance and service schedules, provide data to prove compliance, help understand, predict and prevent outages and thus enabling overall continuous productivity and efficiency improvement. 

Worker Satisfaction

Workers want to be connected. Mobile devices are everywhere, and it doesn’t make sense not to use them. Most workers who don’t have devices provided by employers will use their personal smartphones to help do their jobs.

By providing a platform to connect your workers, you let them know that their time is valuable, you recognize their ability to utilize new technologies, and that you want to give them every possible tool to succeed.

Information Security

Keeping your collected data from the field off personal devices helps maintain that data’s security. By customizing your virtual workspace, you not only connect your workers, but you are also better able to limit access to important information to those you authorize to see it. 

Connect to Your Best Outcomes

Leveraging a custom platform powered by JourneyApps into a safer, more productive, more satisfied workforce is the best move you can make. Pairing those outcomes with increased data security and opening the door to automation makes it a win/win.

RealWear® headsets are revolutionizing field service work, and having software unique to your company that can optimize their use will put you at the forefront of your industry. They allow your workers to use up-to-the-minute information and check-in with colleagues in case of unforeseen problems.

Being able to share visual information as well as sync collected data and integrate with intelligent machines in real-time are revolutionary functions in field service. 

Beyond all the benefits outlined above, the opportunity for newer team members to get advice and feedback from experienced coworkers no matter where either person is located physically is a perfect way to maintain continuity from one generation of workers to the next.

The tangible and intangible benefits of the connected worker are vast. With innovative software and cutting-edge hardware, your field service teams can thrive while simultaneously giving your in-office teams real-time data that will allow you to make the most well-informed business decisions possible. 

Don’t wait to connect your workforce. Learn more about how our platforms, powered by JourneyApps, can make your teams more productive and connected than ever before. Get Started

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