TeamSense helps manufacturers keep in touch with deskless workers

Deskless workers make up about 70% to 80% of the global workforce. Because they spend most of their time away from a computer, many deskless workers often find it challenging to keep in touch with their employers. TeamSense is an app-free platform designed specifically for hourly employees in the manufacturing sector which lets them manage attendance, talk to managers and access company resources through SMS. The Seattle-based company announced today it has raised $4 million led by Bonfire Ventures with support from Operator Collective.

Founded in 2020, TeamSense’s features include Absence Management, an employee call-out system the company says has a 100% adoption rate. It lets employees call out of work more easily and helps manufacturing companies get accurate employee numbers. The platform also has communication tools, engagement and pulse surveys, an employee portal with access to internal resources and a “text to apply” feature for job applicants.

TeamSense was founded in 2020 during the start of the pandemic. CEO and co-founder Sheila Stafford grew up around manufacturing and started her career in the industry, including positions at large manufacturers like Whirlpool and General Motors. She told TechCrunch that at the beginning of the pandemic, she had three insights based on her background.

The first was that hourly manufacturing and logistics employees needed to get back to work because “you cannot assemble a vehicle from your kitchen table.” Secondly, many channels of communication, including one-on-one talks and town halls, were no longer possible. Finally, most workers didn’t have a company phone or a company email address, and would be reluctant to download a work app on their personal device. TeamSense was created to help people get back to work through a text and mobile web solution.

“I have experienced asking employees to download a company app on their personal phone,” Stafford said. “It’s a tough ask. They pay for their phones, and with the ask usually comes a company requirement to sign a bring your own device policy that gives the company access to your personal information in certain circumstances. The response to that request was often no, but more colorful language.” Instead of asking workers to download an app, TeamSense uses communication through SMS, and links on mobile websites.

To onboard TeamSense, companies connect it to their HR system. When an employee texts TeamSense for the first time, it validates their ID number and links it to their phone number. Some examples of things workers can do with TeamSense through SMS texts include calling off from work, filling out company engagement surveys, volunteering for overtime, providing suggestions, submitting maintenance requests, getting important information like plant closures or benefits enrollments and accessing documents such as employee handbooks and company news. The platform also incorporates AI so if an employee texts something like “I am not feeling well” or “my hip hurts,” it understands that they are trying to call out.

Stafford said TeamSense’s call-out system is a key user acquisition driver, since “attendance is something a single site leader at a large manufacturing company can say yes to.” Once it signs up a single site, other sites usually follow. TeamSense plans to grow by adding more use cases that can help increase productivity. TeamSense’s competitors include traditional call center services like Continental Message Solutions and AMBS Call Centers, but Stafford said it differentiates through its focus on establishing digital connections with workers.

The new funding will be used to hire for TeamSense’s development and go-to-market teams.

In a statement about the funding, Bonfire Ventures partner Brett Queener said, “We are thrilled to invest in TeamSense as they offer manufacturers, for the first time, a digital connection that resonates with and is embraced by all their hourly employees. We were blown away by the testimony and delight from TeamSense’s customers, which is no surprise given the manufacturing chops and empathy that Sheila and her amazing team possess and exude.”

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