At Microsoft, we separate the global workforce into two categories: knowledge workers and firstline workers. Firstline workers are particularly relevant in the construction sector. High numbers of employees are based on construction sites and are the first point of contact for their organisation’s customers. In partnership with Construction News we have commissioned a survey to understand the impact digital technologies can have on firstline workers.
It is encouraging that 98 per cent of respondents felt digitally enabling the firstline workers was at least reasonably important to the success of their business, with 63 per cent thinking it extremely important.
We typically see the challenges facing these workers include obsolete tools and technologies, manual, time consuming processes, inefficiency in onboarding and training processes, lack of communication and collaboration across sites and head offices, and sometimes even lack of governance and unclear security policies.
There does seem to be some positive progress in the construction sector to overcome these challenges. A total of 54 per cent of firstline workers said they feel technology helps them to stay connected even though they are at different locations. However, 41 per cent feel that technology could play a greater role in driving a community and collaborative culture, showing there is still work to do.
Another big challenge in the construction sector is the skills shortage and firms attracting and retaining talent, especially firstline workers. The survey shows that 71 per cent of firstline workers felt that IT systems played at least a moderate role in attracting new talent to their businesses. At Microsoft, we have found this to be especially important in attracting millennials into the workplace as they expect to be able to collaborate and communicate using the latest modern technologies.
In addition to solving some of these challenges the survey also highlights how deploying the latest digital technologies will also help save firstline workers time, reduce costs and risk, and ultimately help produce better quality products for their customers.
Some of the barriers faced when adopting digital technologies include cost, skills, and process implementation. However, on a positive note the survey predicts firms will invest in digital technologies over the next 24 months to support construction processes, collaboration, security, and training. Some firstline workers even expect artificial intelligence to be implemented to enhance their experiences.
At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. We build tools for the modern workplace and connect the entire organisation from the boardroom to the firstline.
With Microsoft 365, we empower all workers with a complete, intelligent solution and close long-standing technology gaps that have separated employees from the tools, resources and expertise they need to do their best work.
Building for success on the firstline of business and digitising firstline work delivers efficiency, quality and customer satisfaction. Technology can give firstline workers a more intuitive, immersive, and empowering experience.
The introduction of Microsoft 365 F1 represents a significant step towards this vision. With our new firstline offering we deliver on five key areas:
- Foster culture and community – put people first and strengthen culture, community and inclusivity.
- Train and upskill employees: help workers develop, grow, and apply their skills.
- Digitise business process: automate and optimize processes to increase agility and meet customer needs.
- Deliver real-time expertise: allow workers to harness expertise to solve business problems in real-time.
- Minimise risk and cost: streamline IT management and extend security to all employees.
With Microsoft 365 F1, customers benefit from firstline productivity with Microsoft StaffHub, build culture and community with Yammer and Teams, and share training and video content with SharePoint and Stream. Ensure security for all employees with EMS and have integrated platform support for shared and remote devices with Windows 10.
Adam Steel is Enterprise Sales Lead for Construction at Microsoft UK. Please contact to discuss the report further.