Mobile Learning

It’s time to consider personal devices on the frontline

Posted on: April 30, 2020Updated on: June 20, 2023By: JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect

We’re all learning a lot about what it takes to support a frontline workforce during a time of unprecedented disruption.

A few common themes are emerging…

  • Focus on high-priority challenges. Everything else will have to wait
  • Managers are critical. They’re your frontline’s lifeline.
  • Communication is key. You have to keep employees up to speed so they can change how they do their jobs
  • Reinforce and coach. Just showing employees how to do a task once isn’t enough. Reinforcement and coaching are needed to make new behaviors stick.

Many of these ideas aren’t completely new. They were important parts of modern frontline training. But now, they’re proving to be that much more important.

There’s another theme starting to pop up in our conversations: devices.


The pandemic is changing the way people work. It’s also changing the way people access training on the frontline. With job processes constantly shifting, employees need access to timely information more often. Some remote and furloughed employees now need to access job resources away from their workplace. Many employees are also raising concerns about shared devices, such as training computers or break room kiosks, as they try to avoid health risks.

Personal devices can help organizations overcome these challenges while quickly expanding employee access to information. Employees can protect themselves by using the device they’re already carrying (and cleaning). They can access job information from home if needed because their device is always with them. And using the device in their pocket to find a job aid or complete a practice activity is a lot more convenient than leaving their work area to find a shared device.

Mobile devices have been near-ubiquitous for over ten years. However, the application of these devices, especially personal smartphones, for training has been inconsistent. Desktop computers remain the primary access point for digital learning, especially in North America and Europe. Legacy IT baggage, security concerns, bad technology and legal considerations have limited the use of personal devices on the frontline. But that hasn’t stopped employees from continuing to carry (and use) their smartphones at work.

Here are six proven tactics to help you overcome these barriers and implement a BYOD (bring your own device) strategy on your frontline:

Use a disclaimer

Add a disclaimer to your mobile learning app login screen that states the rules regarding employee access. For example, your disclaimer may state that hourly associates are only permitted to use the app during scheduled shifts in accordance with company or regulatory guidelines. By logging in, employees are agreeing to this statement and can be held accountable as needed.

Integrate with single sign-on

Leverage single sign-on integrations so employees can use the same credentials for your mobile learning app as they do for other workplace systems. This will simplify the user experience and mitigate a range of potential IT and security concerns.

Design a simple experience

Employees will not spend time in your mobile learning app if it’s a frustrating, low-value experience—regardless of the device they use. Design a simple experience that focuses only on the information each employee needs. Direct employees to the training that will provide the most value. Build content that is short and searchable so it can be used for rapid learning and problem solving.

Gate network access

If you have to limit employee training to times when they are physically at work due to internal or external regulations, you can still allow them to use their own devices. Restrict access to your mobile learning app to your specific wifi network. If someone tries to access the app away from the workplace, they will not be granted access.

Provide a stipend

Some employees may be concerned that using their own devices for work may increase the data usage on their monthly phone bills. First, be sure to select a mobile learning app that can deliver high-quality content while not hogging network bandwidth. Then, consider providing each employee with a small stipend to pay for the added data typically required for personal device use. This expense can likely be offset by the budget you will save by avoiding the purchase and maintenance of additional workplace devices.

Integrate with existing mobile apps

Are you already using other mobile apps, such as time and attendance tools, that employees can access on their personal devices? Integrate your learning app with these platforms so you can take advantage of your existing IT infrastructure. With a well-designed integration, employees may not even notice they are using multiple apps.

When you make training and information available on mobile devices, you bring learning and knowledge to the frontline’s fingertips. That convenience and ease of access drives higher engagement. More engagement leads to more learning. And more learning leads to better performance.

Providing training on an employee’s favorite device just makes sense. And now, with the workplace in a constant state of disruption, it’s a powerful idea that every organization should consider to make sure frontline employees get the support they need to stay safe and productive—whenever and wherever they need it.

Where do you go from here?

With the current challenges around access to information and concerns about sharing workplace technology, personal devices in the workplace are becoming more and more common. If you want to learn more about how to prepare for the post-crisis workplace, we’ve built a playlist of short, easy-to-watch videos focused on preparing for The Next Normal. We’ve also built playlists for you to explore how to ready your workforce for The Return and how to enable your frontline to handle The Shift.

Head on over to the playlists page to dig deeper into each topic and watch the one (or three!) that’s right for you.

Thank you for everything you’re doing for your people, organizations and communities.

Be well. Be safe. And be kind to the frontline.

JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect's Headshot

JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect

JD Dillon became an expert on frontline training and enablement over two decades working in operations and talent development with dynamic organizations, including Disney, Kaplan and AMC. A respected author and speaker in the workplace learning community, JD also continues to apply his passion for helping frontline employees around the world do their best work every day in his role as Axonify's Chief Learning Architect.

Read More by JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect