Bridging the Digital Divide: How to Effectively Communicate with Non-Digital Employees
Digital technologies are changing the way we work. However, a significant portion of our workforce is often excluded from it, as they tend to work outside the office and have limited access to digital resources.
This includes factory workers, truck drivers, construction workers, retailers, and nurses. These workers often struggle to digitally access important business information, leaving them feeling uninformed and undervalued. This can seriously impact their productivity and overall job satisfaction.
This is a situation that requires our attention. We need to ensure that every employee is informed, feels connected, and knows their value within the organization.
Understanding the Problem
The inability to access corporate information digitally is a major challenge for these key employees. Think of a factory worker who doesn’t hear about a shift change because he doesn’t have office email. Or a truck driver who misses an important company update because it’s posted on the company’s intranet site, which he can’t access from his vehicle. Nurses, who are often on their feet around the clock caring for patients, may not have the time or resources to log into a digital portal to learn about company updates. On job sites where physical safety is paramount, the lack of real-time digital information can even lead to dangerous situations.
These scenarios shine a spotlight on a current problem: communication in many companies fails to meet two important criteria: efficiency and inclusivity.
‘Efficient’ communication means timely, clear and understandable information. But as our examples show, crucial details are often overlooked, delayed or misinterpreted. This lack of efficiency can lead to confusion, errors, and potential safety risks.
‘Inclusive’ communication means that every team member, regardless of their role or access to digital resources, should receive and understand the information they share. Currently, a significant portion of our workforce, especially those who work away from the office, is excluded from important communications. This exclusion leads to a sense of disconnectedness and can impact job satisfaction and retention.
The importance of efficient and inclusive communication
Communication forms the core of any organization — it unifies teams, encourages collaboration, and cultivates a sense of unity. However, for communication to be impactful, it must be inclusive, reaching every employee irrespective of their role, location, or access to digital resources.
The emphasis on effectively connecting with non-digital employees goes beyond ethical considerations — it’s a business imperative. Workers who are well-informed and included in the communication loop tend to be more engaged, more productive, and more likely to remain with the company. This isn’t just speculation; it’s backed by compelling research data. Studies indicate that companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147% in earnings per share. Additionally, organizations that prioritize employee communication are 3.5 times more likely to significantly outpace their industry peers.
In other words, investing in efficient, inclusive communication isn’t just good practice — it’s smart business.
Reaping the benefits of digital information
The rise of digital platforms offers significant potential for improving communication within organizations. Especially in an era of increasing workplace mobility, these platforms can be particularly useful for reaching those employees who don’t typically work in an office setting. They offer a means to deliver information to every employee, anytime, in a format that works for them, regardless of their location or role.
The benefits of using these digital platforms are manifold and tangible. First, they can drastically reduce or even eliminate the need for physical materials, thereby saving on printing and paper costs. This shift to digital can also streamline workflows, reducing the time spent searching for information. Employees can instantly access what they need, rather than calling or emailing colleagues or HR for information.
Furthermore, by integrating all employees into the digital communication cycle, we can promote a sense of belonging and inclusion. This connectivity can increase job satisfaction, reduce turnover rates, and create a workforce that feels valued, engaged, and invested in the organization’s success.
Digital platforms also offer the advantage of real-time updates. In industries such as construction or transportation, this can significantly improve operational efficiency and safety. Employees stay informed about critical changes or emergency situations without delay.
In sum, while the challenge of reaching non-office workers is substantial, it also presents an opportunity to rethink and improve our approach to internal communication. By consciously bridging the digital divide, organizations can not only enhance operational efficiency but also cultivate a more engaged, inclusive, and productive workforce. In our increasingly interconnected world, digital inclusion isn’t a luxury—it’s an absolute necessity.
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