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Activate Your Return to Work Strategy: 5 Guiding Principles for Your Workplace App

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It’s clear that employees are hungry for workplace apps to guide their daily experiences with their organizations. 85% of employees want a combination of working from home and the office. And on average, we pick up our phone 58 times per day, and more than half of those are during working hours. Simply put, employees want the flexibility to work where they want and the tools to enable uninterrupted productivity – and a mobile app is the perfect way to address both demands.  

As Gartner says, “We must reimagine how we work and communicate, without sacrificing ​collaboration and corporate culture.”

Given that a fair number of employees are – and will continue – working remotely, the new employee experience is about:

  • Facilitating flexible hybrid work models and tools that empower employees to collaborate
  • Ensuring employees feel connected to their work and colleagues​
  • Addressing employees’ work/life balance and well-being​
  • Making it easy for employees to access needed information and resources from anywhere​
  • Satisfying expectations for experiences on par with our consumer experiences​

No wonder so many organizations are making a mobile workplace app central to their return to work strategies.

As you develop your return to work plan, it may be helpful to understand the return to work strategies that have proven effective for other organizations. Based on our extensive experience helping hundreds of the world’s leading companies power their employee app experiences, we’ve sussed out the top five keys to success. 

Here are the five guiding principles you can call upon to develop and deliver a lovable employee app. By calling upon these return to work best practices, you can satisfy both your organizational and employee needs. 

  1. Be Future-Focused

The apps that stand the test of time are those with an eye to addressing employee’s needs today and tomorrow. Your new hybrid, remote workforce has to remain connected, cohesive, and productive – no matter what the situation. 

The key is to provide all the tools and resources your employees need and crave in a single app to simplify their digital workplace experience. In this way, just as you make the employee the center of your company in the physical office, you can use your app to make them the center of the digital experience. 

Your mobile workplace app helps shift the idea of work being a place to work to being an experience that is immersive, engaging, productive, efficient and accessible anywhere and anytime. By empowering you to reimagine the workplace, the app provides the foundation you need to ensure the best employee experience. 

  1. Embrace Employees Globally & Act Locally 

A digital workplace app is a powerful tool for keeping everyone connected and safe by delivering a localized experience seamlessly integrated into your digital corporate hub. With a central location for accessing information and receiving timely alerts in the form of personalized push notifications, all your employees will feel confident about safely returning to the office. A mobile app is valuable for timely communications is because you can deliver a localized experience to every user tailored to each person and their physical location. 

Through your app, enable employees to access a virtual tour of the new office layout, see which colleagues will be in the office, and reserve work space ahead of time. Before an employee enters your office space, the app can confirm it’s their day to be in the building and that they’ve taken the health self-assessment on the app. With the presence of Bluetooth beacons and geofences, the app can also remind each employee about the steps they need to take prior to entering the building, along with local rules, return to work policies, and location-specific regulations.

Once your employees are safely at work, the app can transform your workplace into a digital workplace experience. Examples include empowering employees to request on-demand sanitizing or alerting them when floors, elevators or common areas are crowded. You can also use your mobile app to quickly and easily alert all employees about shifts in your return to work plan.

  1. Stay Agile and Innovative

With organizational priorities, strategies, and return to work plans continually changing, it’s impossible to develop an app once that serves today’s and tomorrow’s needs. Fortunately, an agile no-code app building platform allows you to easily and quickly add functionality over time as your needs evolve.

In fact, your workplace app should evolve to incrementally provide a unified, all-in-one digital workplace or campus that goes beyond informing and engaging to driving behavior and improving performance. Call upon tools within the app to pinpoint what is critical to employee success.

Within the app, survey users for input on the app experience they crave. You can pair this with the app platform’s analytics to see what’s working and what’s not to determine how to deliver the most value to your users. With this insight, you can evolve and tailor the app experience to deliver the content and tools your employees desire and that help them perform their best. 

Your app can be the key to accelerating productivity—through services and information that raise engagement and provide consumer-grade experiences for a successful digital workplace. In-app nudges and push notifications can remind employees to reserve in-office time to join other co-workers on the same project, sparking collaboration. In this way, you can give employees friendly reminders that are akin to a tap on the shoulder, helping them stay productive.

Another way your mobile app can help is by displaying a personalized home screen that helps people stay on track. Each employee’s home screen can show their performance goals, performance, and outstanding tasks. Seeing where they stand every time they visit the app is a powerful motivator to keep employees on track to succeed.

  1. Call Upon Simplicity, Scale & Security

Ideally you select an app development platform featuring a comprehensive set of services purpose-built to solve the daily challenges of your employees. This makes it easy to get up and running with a single app that serves all your employee needs, with an app experience you can easily evolve over time. 

With this in mind, look for pre-built modules and integrations that simplify the process of adding features. Better yet, select a low-​code/no-code platform with out-of-the box features and an intuitive interface that empower even non-IT staff to build out the app and keep information fresh. 

The best solution is scalable and cloud-ready and offers seamless integration with the tools you use today and will want to use tomorrow. Determine whether the solution facilitates a variety of ways to integrate external systems and content into your workplace app, such as an embedded web app or via a direct integration. Sophisticated app development platforms support these types of integrations:

  • Direct integration with app modules – Make sure you can easily view and interact with a standardized data source or service like calendars, news, and social accounts
  • XModule – Find a platform that makes it possible to drive the layout and contents of a function within the app using an external web service that complies with the XModule API. Ideally it also allows you to use this XModule functionality within an existing screen.
  • External web content in a Modo app – Confirm you can present external web content within your app as an iframe within a module screen; by parsing and sanitizing the HTML to present the information using the same styling as formatting as the overall page; or by presenting an external full-screen web app within your app.
  • Links to external web and native apps – Look for support for external links. Examples include tapping a navigation item or link in the app to redirect the user to a web app in the device’s browser, or to open a different native app on the device. Native iOS and/or Android SDK – To add add background behavior (like monitoring for proximity to beacons) and/or foreground behavior (like presenting a screen to the user), find out if the vendor provides native code embedded into the iOS and Android versions of your workplace app.
  • Communication platform – Look for a communication platform that is fully API-enabled, allowing external services to generate push, in-app banner, and email messages to be generated and delivered to individuals and groups.

To ensure your security concerns are covered, look for an app platform that includes the following features:

  • SOC 2 Type II certified; GDPR compliant
  • Independently penetration-tested to eliminate urgent security risks
  • Full Privacy Shield protection
  • AWS global cloud hosting and security monitoring
  • Element-level app content and message delegation and approval
  • SSO support for all major standards to both app administration and end user experience
  • Data is fully encrypted in transit and at rest
  • Supports MDM/MAM/EMM environments
  1. Empower citizen developers

Many IT organizations fear the burden of developing and maintaining a workplace app. But IT and dedicated app developers don’t need to be the only ones building out and evolving your app. With the right platform, you can reduce IT lift and enable subject matter experts to quickly craft and deploy app content, no coding skills required.

A no-code/low-code app development platform empowers anyone to build out your app. That means your company can call upon employees who use the app every day to help develop the best app experience possible. 

This approach means you can more quickly develop your app and share information. For example, someone in HR can easily create and deploy an HR app module on “how to best work from home.” When information or content in that module needs updating, that person can instantly make changes without IT involvement. 

With trusted users directly involved in app development, you eliminate content reviews while ensuring your app is continually refreshed with up-to-date information. At the same time, delegating responsibility for different modules or areas of the app to the people or departments closest to the topics offloads IT but ensures IT remains in control to ensure a high-quality experience.

Continually evolve the digital workplace experience

With so much in flux and more employees working in different locations, your organization needs a way to keep employees empowered, connected, and engaged. A robust workplace app is just the answer. Build yours around these guiding principles covered and your employees will have instant access to the information and resources they need feel engaged, inspired and successful.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to provide the ultimate employee experience from day one with your mobile app. Develop and improve your app over time in line with these five principles to create a continually improved distributed workplace experience for your employees.

Do not miss this opportunity to connect your employees with the tools they need to navigate the return to work. Request a demo to see a fully customized workplace app for your hybrid workforce.

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