Silicon Valley is failing 80% of the global workforce

Despite being 80% of the global workforce, deskless employees have been ignored for years. Yet only 1% of software venture capital is invested in technology to serve these 2.7 billion people.

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The deskless workforce is finally getting the attention it deserves. These frontline workers build the products we enjoy, educate us, and keep us healthy. But with few exceptions, the only deskless workers Silicon Valley has invested in are Uber or Lyft drivers.

Emergence Capital, an early stage VC firm, commissioned a study of 100 IT buyers from the world’s top deskless industries to understand their views on investing in technology for “un-wired” employees and to inspire more companies to serve this overlooked market.

Top reasons for investing in deskless workers

Productivity is a top priority, but keeping employees happy is critical, according to the study. The report cites high attrition rates and retention issues as significant challenges, and respondents report they are hopeful that technology can solve the problem.

The Rise of the Deskless Workforce


Mobile is key

Mobile adoption leads these investments, with 98% of companies currently and planning to invest in this area. Mobile is critical for deskless workers because many of them don’t have company emails or laptops. As a result, workers without a way to communicate with team members or HQ feel disconnected from the company where they work, which can lead to higher turnover. Additionally, younger employees have higher expectations for a more consumer-like experience from their workplace technology tools.

Check out our guide to engaging and empowering your frontline workforce.

Deskless funding is gaining momentum

Two major trends are driving global companies to invest in deskless employees: more millennials and Gen Zers in the workplace and worker demand for better technology combined with mobile platforms. And in the past 6 years, over $3.5 billion was invested in startups that serve the deskless workforce.

The report signals a massive opportunity that Silicon Valley, for once, hasn’t thought much about. It’s a fast-growing and important market, where good technology, especially portable and untethered, is just as important.

For an excellent example of how large companies with deskless workers are using new technology to connect with their frontline employees, our customer, Love’s Travel Stops, has a great story.

Related resources

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Firstup is the world’s first intelligent communication platform. More than 40 percent of Fortune 100 companies use our platform to connect with their people, design and deliver personalized communications, and gain engagement insights throughout the employee journey. With Firstup, employers can view engagement data in real time, by organization, department, or employee. That helps leaders better understand their workforce, make informed decisions, and provide better experiences from hire to retire. Companies like Amazon, Tesco, Ford, and Hilton use Firstup every day to improve outcomes for their employees.

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