Mobile Learning

How to deliver BYOD training & comms your frontline will love

Posted on: July 7, 2022Updated on: April 18, 2024By: Maliyah Bernard

The average frontline worker doesn’t sit behind a desk very much, aside from contact center agents. They’re constantly on the move in stores, branches, warehouses and distribution centers. Some even more so, traveling as delivery drivers and professional salespeople.

These deskless employees need access to timely, reliable, relevant information that matches how and where they work so they can make good decisions and do their best every shift. That means their training and communications need to be available on-the-go just like they are, enabling them with the most up-to-date information regardless of their role, location, manager or schedule. But how?

In a recent session at AxoniCom RETAIL, Jennifer Baker, Director of Learning & Development North America at Foot Locker, shared her organization’s inspiring, all-in journey to embracing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy with our CEO, Carol Leaman. Jennifer discussed how taking that digital leap enabled Foot Locker to reach its 44,000+ team members around the globe with communications and daily training on their own mobile devices. Here are some of the highlights from their chat to help you consider if BYOD is a fit for your own frontline.

Lady on her phone looking up on a orange background

Where traditional communication and training methods fall short

For employees on the frontline that can’t leave the floor to complete their training, having to log on desktop and laptop computers can be a barrier to receiving the critical information they need to do their jobs. Prior to launching with Axonify, this was one of the main issues Foot Locker faced when trying to find a way to communicate directly with their diverse and global team members.

“We relied on trickle-down communication, emailing the store or instructing store managers to cascade the information to their teams, so we really didn’t have fingers on the pulse of what was going on,” says Jennifer. “We had no way of confirming if or how communication and training was being relayed, or how it was being received.”

Wanting to stay relevant as a retail leader, Foot Locker’s executives knew this ineffective way of communicating needed to change.

“To stay at the forefront of our industry, we know that we have to constantly be looking for new ways to elevate our customer experience. And this includes for our retail team members as well. Lace Up [Foot Locker’s internal name for the Axonify solution] is not only used as a learning tool within our organization, but also as a communication tool. And it’s been a huge win for us,” she adds. “BYOD has created a direct connection between headquarters and our frontline. We not only reach managers more easily, but we reach all the way to the newest part-time member who might have just joined yesterday. It strongly shaped how engaged our teams are and how connected they feel to the organization.”

Avoiding legal risks and roadblocks

Some of the biggest roadblocks keeping learning orgs from making the switch to personal mobile devices for their workplace are intellectual property and data security concerns, employees doing work off-the-clock and the uncertainty of transitioning to digital training and communications. All valid worries, says Jennifer.

But she reassures those who still aren’t sure about going all-in on BYOD, that her team was able to avoid these very challenges.

“In the early discovery phases with Axonify, we did partner heavily with our legal teams and our HR teams. First and foremost, we wanted to explain our expectations for team members and their usage of mobile devices,” explains Jennifer. “Team members see the North American user agreement every single time that they Lace Up so that there’s no confusion [and] the use of the device application is completely voluntary and not a condition of employment at all. We needed our team to know and understand that using and having a smartphone device was not a requirement of the job.”

Employees are also encouraged to use in-store WiFi, as opposed to their own data, so concerns about overages and incurring additional costs are eliminated.

“We really tried to look for as many ways as possible to remove barriers so that BYOD could be successful.”

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“Another big part of our success was remaining compliant with labor laws,” she continues. “It’s critical that team members were only training while on the clock. These are just a couple of examples of how a thoughtful user agreement crafted in partnership with your legal and HR business partners can enable you to remove the roadblocks and work through concerns all while mitigating risk.”

The real rewards of BYOD

When Foot Locker first launched Axonify in 2019, their teams had just enough time to enable the platform, access the new BYOD training and communication before the world was shut down in March 2020 due to the pandemic. The timing proved serendipitous.

“The BYOD approach gave us the ability to communicate consistent messages from our leaders regarding store closures, and then it allowed us to provide training and new protocol as stores reopened,” says Jennifer. “We had the ability to keep our teams, customers and community safe. It was such a tumultuous time and especially for frontline workers who were in the thick of it every single shift, every single day.”

Even as in-store shoppers started to return to the sneaker and apparel hub as restrictions were lifted, BYOD was still a powerful tool that made everyone feel connected.

“We were able to share video messages from senior leadership, the same messages that were being sent to our corporate employees via email, in response to social injustice, world events that were happening and impacting our frontline. We often say we don’t know what we would’ve done without BYOD,” says Jennifer.

And the adoption numbers tell a similar story. Opting for a “progress over perfection” approach at launch, Jennifer says that Foot Locker HQ had a good feeling that team members would see the appeal of mobile training and communications on their own devices. But even she was surprised to see the initial participation jump from 72% to 90% within a year and actually catapult to 93% today.

Finally having a way to keep everyone engaged and connected, by quite literally just reaching into their back pockets, proved to be the perfect fit for the brand.

“Our mission at Foot Locker is to inspire and empower youth culture and a BYOD approach really helps us deliver on that mission,” she says.

It’s more than possible to successfully adopt a BYOD policy if done carefully and thoughtfully. A mix of culture fit, due diligence, clear employee expectations and considerate policies can lead to a win that benefits the business and meets the frontline where they are.

Maliyah Bernard's Headshot

Maliyah Bernard

Maliyah Bernard is an academic writer turned content writer. As a former frontline worker, she loves writing about all the ways organizations can support these essential workers smarter.

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