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Deskless workers are often on the frontline of an organization’s success, but they are not always able to access the same educational opportunities as their desk-bound counterparts.  As a result, the knowledge gap between those in the office and those on the front lines of the company continues to widen.  

L&D leaders are faced with the challenge of cultivating skills and managing this growing workforce segment. With the rise of Generative AI (Gen AI), there is a great opportunity to leverage this technology in navigating these challenges.

In this article, we’ll explore the potential benefits of unlocking upskilling opportunities for deskless workers and how it could help close the knowledge gap.

The Current State of the Deskless Workforce

​The term “deskless worker” is used to describe a range of occupations that don’t primarily involve sitting at a desk. This includes roles such as retail workers, nurses, construction workers, and many more. According to a recent study, there are 1.3 billion deskless workers worldwide, nearly 80% of the global workforce. 

One of the biggest challenges facing deskless workers is access to information. Deskless workers often don’t have the same access to information and knowledge as their desk-based counterparts.  This can lead to a knowledge gap between deskless workers and their managers or colleagues who do not have access to these resources.

Bridging the skills gap among deskless workers is essential to ensuring that all workers have the opportunity to succeed in the future of work. Investing in training and education for this workforce will pay off in the form of higher productivity, increased job satisfaction, and lower turnover.

The Power of Upskilling 

Upskilling, the process of teaching employees new skills, is a key solution for addressing these challenges. By investing in upskilling initiatives, organizations can equip their deskless workers with the skills they need to thrive in their roles. This not only enhances employee performance but also contributes to the overall success of the organization. 

The rise of Gen AI presents a golden opportunity for L&D  leaders. At Hive Learning, we embrace Gen AI to create personalized learning programs tailored to the individual and the unique needs of an organization. With a combination of collaborative learning and agile content delivery, these programs not only help deskless workers access educational resources that are relevant to their specific roles but also enable them to learn at their own pace and convenience.

Upskilling Retail Specialists to Drive Revenue Growth

As organizations recognize the importance of upskilling their deskless workforce, several have embraced personalized learning programs with impressive results. A British Health & Beauty retailer partnered with Hive Learning to reinvent the beauty shopping experience online. This required a quick, easy and engaging solution for their workforce in the in-person stores. 

The key goals of deploying a learning program were to: 

  • Build more personalized, authentic in-person interactions to leave lasting impressions and generate return visits from their customers
  • Offer unbiased, in-depth knowledge and impartial advice to increase sales
    and store performance

With access to Hive Learning on both a mobile app and desktop, the Health & Beauty retailer was successfully able to replicate the ‘social media experience’ at work where employees have benefited from network effects that drive high engagement and learning. Moreover, the deskless learners who actively engaged in Hive Learning reached 147% of their sales target, while those who didn’t use Hive Learning only achieved 43% of their sales target.

This case study highlights the power of personalized learning programs in bridging the knowledge gap for deskless workers and driving tangible results for the organization.

Challenges and Limitations

Investing in upskilling for an organization’s deskless workforce presents numerous benefits, but it’s crucial to also consider potential challenges. Some deskless workers might have limited access to technology or be unfamiliar with using AI-powered platforms. 

By addressing these concerns, debunking myths, and providing ongoing support, organizations can foster a sense of reassurance and encourage greater adoption of these learning initiatives. Clear guidelines on the tools available and how to access technology, even in restricted environments, can further ease this transition. These proactive measures can make the introduction of an upskilling initiative a smoother, more engaging experience for everyone involved.

Another potential concern is that AI-powered learning programs might overshadow human interaction and personalized support. While AI can indeed provide customized content, it might not fully replicate the human connection and guidance that deskless workers often need for optimal learning and growth.

At Hive Learning, we wholeheartedly acknowledge this reality. That’s why we’ve adopted the ‘AHAH’ principle. “AHAH” stands for AI-assisted, Human-led, AI-resourced, Human-checked. This principle underscores the balance between AI and human involvement in the learning process. It ensures that while AI aids and resources the work, humans remain at the helm, leading and checking the processes. This blended approach amplifies the advantages of AI while preserving the irreplaceable value of human input. 


In conclusion, deskless workers play a critical role in an organization’s success but often face challenges in accessing the same educational opportunities as their office-based counterparts. However, L&D leaders have the opportunity to navigate these challenges effectively by cultivating skills and managing this growing workforce segment. 

Through upskilling initiatives, organizations can ensure that their deskless workers are empowered with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their roles.

 To find out more about how you can future-proof your workforce, speak to a member of the Hive Learning team today. 

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