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My boss's boss's boss's boss said something today relative to "hourly and frontline workers". I'm just wondering if that's a stock term that means something in the workplace. Is that everybody who isn't a manager or is it everybody including some managers.

How do I know if I am a frontline worker? I interact with customers when asked to. But for the most part, I'm just a code monkey.

  • Probably off-topic here: the definition is simply an English language question while the matter of whether you specifically qualify for your company's definition of the term is not something we can say from the outside. – Lilienthal Feb 7 '18 at 17:48
  • What Industry is this – Neuromancer Feb 7 '18 at 18:14
  • @neuromancer IT Services, Sales and Support (Fortune 500). We programmers compose a small fraction of those working for the corporation. – Peter Turner Feb 7 '18 at 19:12
  • @lil well thanks for not closing the question mod-hammer style. Do you have any suggestions to how it could be on topic? I'm really asking about a subjective question about what a CEO would consider a frontline employee in a fortune 500 company. I don't visit here much, but I know the ropes (I'm a mod on Christianity) and the reasons to ask topical questions. – Peter Turner Feb 7 '18 at 19:15
  • @PeterTurner Well the main issue is that what you're really asking is which type of employees your boss had in mind. And that could differ from the customary definition of the term "frontline worker". Only someone within your company would really be able to answer that. – Lilienthal Feb 7 '18 at 22:03
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It is whoever meets/interacts with a customer.

CEOs and Managers care about frontline workers for several reasons, most important ones are that they represent the company, and that they "see" the customers and know all the feedback.

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  • Yes but in this context as "hourly" was used - it means low level blue or no collar jobs - does depend on industry though – Neuromancer Feb 7 '18 at 17:26
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    @Neuromancer I disgree. "Hourly Workers" are workers who get paid on an hourly based rate - and not salary based rate. – Sandra K Feb 7 '18 at 17:37
  • yes i.e. blue collar workers that is non M&P managerial and professional it should be obvious from context - you can have professionals been seen as front line eg a MD – Neuromancer Feb 7 '18 at 18:14
  • Perhaps the "hourly" was mentioned because, "Fontline workers" sometimes have to deal with customers outside "regular" work hours. If a customer decides to bark at a worker, or has a doubt, or whatever that need has to be attended as soon as possible. Whereas "hourly workers" may have a more clear in-out time schedules compared to frontline and the uncertainty of customer time of support. – DarkCygnus Feb 7 '18 at 18:30
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From the Cambridge dictionary:

Used to describe an employee who deals directly with customers, or who is directly involved in making a product

So as a "code monkey" (Makes a product) and someone who sometimes interacts with customers, you are considered a front lineworker by this definition.


Generally frontline workers are those who know what the customer is doing and are either interacting with them directly or via a third party E.g. a piece of software.

A frontline worker can report on how the customer is doing and what actions they've done recently, wether this being done via talking and interacting with the customer or interacting with a product that a customer uses.

A developer can be considered further frontline as they are often third line support and will need to communicate with a customer, from time to time. They are also often bought into technical design meetings to confirm that what the customer wants is possible. Regularly during a sales meeting, I often find we are talking with a "suit" and a developer. One to deal with the business requirements and the other to deal with the technical requirements.

The only time this isn't the case, for developers, is if you are working in an environment where you are just used to churn out code. Then you tend to only have requirements provided by managers and never interact with the end user. So it does depend a little bit on your company's philosophy. However, you did mention you have met customers, so it would be safe to assume you can be considered frontline in this case.

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    Code monkeys are not generally frontline. While they ultimately take the blame for every issue, the customer will only yell at the suit who represents the company without knowing the zoo of monkeys behind it (which could be based in Kerblekistan) – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Feb 7 '18 at 15:21
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    As a developer for many years, I've interacted with customers on many occasions, not always via support but more designing products with customers. Developers will often be bought in as a technical review, with the suits, for products being made and need to check the requirements provided and confirm what can be done. Don't forget, the definition does say, someone who is directly involved in making a product, and if a developer isn't making a product, what are they doing? Not all of us developers work in developer farms.... – Draken Feb 7 '18 at 15:23
  • I would not consider coding or design meetings with users as frontline. Is a lawyer frontline because they meet with clients? Is a Dr frontline because they meet with patients? – paparazzo Feb 7 '18 at 19:22
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    Actually they are. – TomTom Feb 7 '18 at 19:40
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To me a programmer is not frontline even if you do interact with the client. A programmer is a professional like a Dr, lawyer, or school school teacher.

In a retail setting it would be people that interact directly with the customer.

In a manufacturing setting I would call a laborer on the floor front line.

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  • Does a teacher not interact with their pupils on a daily basis? Doctors will also interact with patients on a regular basis, lawyers will have to handle clients on a regular basis. They know the customers opinion of the companies in question and what they are doing. If they don't, what are they doing? – Draken Feb 8 '18 at 8:03
  • @Draken So you think interact = frontline and I don't. Can we move on? – paparazzo Feb 8 '18 at 9:14
  • It would be interesting to hear your definition of frontline, as I can't tell what your criteria are from your answer. – Draken Feb 8 '18 at 9:27
  • @Draken Let it go. My answer is what it is. – paparazzo Feb 8 '18 at 10:05

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