New research has highlighted a widespread breakdown of the relationship between IT departments and field service workers in the manufacturing sector, with nearly half (46%) of field-based workers stating that they feel like their needs are overlooked by their company’s IT department, in comparison to home or office-based employees.
The research, published in WorkMobile’s new Field service: the forgotten workforce? report, revealed that a lack of communication was a particular issue for many, with 41% of the sector’s field service workers concerned by a lack of communication regarding the technologies they are expected to use.
At the same time, only 9% of the workers surveyed said that they are frequently given the opportunity to provide feedback to their IT department regarding those technologies, while 36% said that they are given the opportunity rarely or never.
Worryingly, when asked if they feel that changes are made to the digital tools they use based on the feedback they give, only 5% of field workers in the manufacturing sector said that they feel listened to. Sixty percent said that changes are sometimes made, but they can take a long time to be implemented, but 35% said that they don’t feel like their feedback is ever taken into account.
The research also suggested a lack of investment and innovation when it comes to the digital tools used by field workers: only 46% of businesses have introduced new technologies specifically for field-based employees since the beginning of the pandemic.
By contrast, a study by LSE found that Covid-19 spurred a wave of new technology adoption by UK businesses, with at least 75% adopting productivity-enhancing technologies following the start of the pandemic.
According to LSE, technologies for remote working were the most frequently adopted, either alone or in conjunction with other technologies, including online sales, cloud, data analytics and cyber security.
Colin Yates, chief support officer at WorkMobile, said: “Many businesses have proven since the pandemic that they have the capability to innovate quickly when needed, but are still failing to apply this to their field service teams.
“If manufacturing businesses want their field workers to perform to the best of their ability and consistently use digital solutions to their fullest extent, it’s essential that all of their employees feel listened to. Without proactively and reactively communicating with field service workers, there’s a risk that they will disengage, and business performance will be negatively impacted.
“CIOs and IT teams are often under a huge amount of pressure, however it’s important for them to remember that the end user is by far in the best position to provide constructive feedback regarding digital tools and solutions, so they should always take any comments they receive seriously and act on them wherever possible.”
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