Digital transformation affects all company’s operations. Frontline workers, who are often the first point of contact with customers, play a key role in this process. Yet, paradoxically, their voice is often overlooked when planning a company’s digitalization. How can we better understand the impact of digitalization on frontline workers, equip them with the necessary tools, and help them navigate through the transformation? Read on to find out more.


Behind the success of digital transformation in business lies not only the technology, but above all the people who use it. This is particularly relevant in the context of frontline workers, who, according to the Emergence 2020 report, make up as much as 80% of the global workforce. According to the study, 75% of them spend most of their time at work using technology, but it often doesn’t meet their needs. An interesting fact is that as many as 56% of frontline workers have had to use their own devices and apps to improve their work performance.

frontline workers

Who are frontline workers?

Frontline employees are the people who work in the restaurant, retail, healthcare, assembly, and construction industries. In the era of digital transformation, their role is becoming even more important. Why? Because they are often the “face” of the company, and how the customer perceives the brand depends on their skills and commitment.

These are the people who have direct contact with the customer, and they:

  • operate cash registers,
  • greet visitors,
  • process orders, and
  • respond to customer service calls.

According to Microsoft, frontline workers account for nearly 2 billion people worldwide. And for them, digital transformation means improving working conditions and safety by reducing the risk of human error, preventing accidents or decreasing physical and mental strain. It also facilitates better communication with co-workers.

How digital transformation can empower frontline workers

According to research, as many as 60% of frontline workers were dissatisfied with the technology provided by their employers. And 44% of them decided to change jobs because of a lack of flexible work opportunities. Simply put, employees quit because they were tired of doing repetitive tasks and having to work constantly changing schedules.

Frontline workers are leaving their current jobs in search of growth opportunities. That’s why engaging them in the digital transformation process is critical to a company’s success. It’s through their input and feedback that companies can effectively automate unwanted tasks and choose business applications, such as Firmbee, that realistically support their work.

But how does digitalization affect frontline workers? For example, in the manufacturing industry, it can help:

  • automate and optimize manufacturing processes – that is, reduce the risk of accidents and the need to operate dangerous equipment,
  • provide ergonomic workstations – that is, ensure that employees feel comfortable at work using solutions like the Internet of Things, which can automate lighting depending on the time of day,
  • ensure access to training– for example, through the use of virtual reality for safe industrial training or, in the retail sector, for improving sales and customer service skills. provide user-friendly communication tools that can be accessed on mobile devices.

Communication with frontline workers in the digital age

Communication with frontline workers in the era of digital transformation is a challenge, but also a crucial element of a company’s success. As data shows, 96% of frontline workers expect better technological solutions for collaboration from their employers. Therefore, it is worth using modern digital tools that facilitate and streamline communication, for example:

  • Google Meet – it lets employees make video calls easily, even without planning and additional hardware or IT assistance.
  • Firmbee – it allows frontline employees to share information and documents with other team members.
  • Slack – this is a collaboration tool that allows frontline employees to create dedicated communication channels for various projects, tasks, or topics. Slack makes it easy to share information, files, and feedback in real-time.

Frontline workers in the world of e-commerce

Frontline employees play a key role in the e-commerce sector. They are usually responsible for:

  • customer service – via email, text and voice chats, or through phone calls,
  • order processing – they often process orders from various platforms using CRM systems,
  • shipping preparation – employees of physical stores were rarely responsible for such tasks,
  • returns management – both when it comes to customer service and handling goods.

Due to the evolving expectations and technologies, frontline workers need to be prepared for lifelong learning and developing their digital and soft skills, such as creativity, communication, and collaboration.

The future of frontline workers

Digitalization brings several challenges for frontline workers. They must continuously adapt to evolving market and technological conditions due to changing employers’ and customers’ demands. Additionally, there are threats to the privacy and security of personal and professional data. That’s why frontline workers should be trained by their employers on the risks associated with the use of digital technologies, and adhere to data protection and cybersecurity policies.

It’s also worth mentioning the following issues:

  • employees’ reluctance to change, declared by 25% of them according to a survey conducted by Digital Poland,
  • fear of losing their jobs and being replaced by new technologies (18%),
  • insufficient managers’ knowledge about implementing digital solutions (12%).

The biggest threat, however, seems to be the risk of marginalization or social and occupational exclusion of those who won’t be digitally literate and won’t have access to proper resources and support. Therefore, it will become a challenge for many companies to ensure that frontline employees have equal employment opportunities regardless of their age, gender, background, or education level.


Frontline employees show not only a company’s brand to customers, but also the stage of its digital transformation. Their commitment, skills, and access to the right tools are essential for effective and efficient digitalization. That’s why it’s so important for companies to understand their needs and challenges, and then provide them with the right support and tools to meet them.

Frontline workers are not only users of technology, but first and foremost people who need a sense of security, respect, and recognition. That’s why it’s so important to consider not only technological, but also social and psychological aspects of the digital transformation process.

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Frontline workers in the era of digital transformation | Digitizing your business #31 andy nichols avatar 1background

Author: Andy Nichols

A problem solver with 5 different degrees and endless reserves of motivation. This makes him a perfect Business Owner & Manager. When searching for employees and partners, openness and curiosity of the world are qualities he values the most.

Digitizing your business:

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  16. RPA vs API. How to choose the right automation strategy?
  17. Best-of-breed vs all-in-one. Which is right for you?
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  31. Frontline workers in the era of digital transformation