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The Pivot Back to Remote Learning and Working — Why Mobile is a Must

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Create Personalized Mobile-First Experiences for Your Campus - Modolabs

In this time of uncertainty, even the best-laid plans need adjusting. Look no further than plans to return to the office and campus. While many companies and universities developed well-considered strategies to enable a return, many are rapidly changing course in the midst of COVID-19 outbreaks.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, more than a third of the country’s 5,000 campuses plan to try limited openings. An August survey of 15 major employers that employ about 2.6 million people combined found that 57% decided to postpone their back-to-work plans because of recent increases in COVID-19 cases.

Here are specific examples of schools and businesses changing their plans:

Regardless of the model your business or school embraces, know this: no one expects you to perform miracles. But your constituents do expect you to keep them informed and up to date on the latest developments across your campus or workplace.

Perhaps Epic Systems’ vice president Brett Rehm, who is involved in the company’s return-to-office strategy, says it best: “I always say my crystal ball is not good enough. It is good to have future plans, but you have to pay attention on a daily basis to what is going on.”

The key is finding the most effective way to communicate that. And in today’s world, innovative organizations are finding the solution is their mobile app.

Keep Constituents Informed

In our digital world, it’s far easier to communicate with families, students, and employees. But not all digital communication channels are created equal.

It can take hours – even days – to update a website with fresh information. Even then, people don’t consult websites on a regular basis. Emails aren’t that much more effective for timely communications since everyone reads them when it suits them best. One study found that 60.8% of respondents often or occasionally ignore emails at work. Moreover, 30% of employees never check their email after hours.

However, it’s a well-known fact that people read and respond to communications via their mobile phones. According to another study, email open rates are 20% whereas SMS open rates are 98%. Moreover, 95% of all text messages are read within 90 seconds.

Given this reality, mobile apps are the most effective communication tool for sharing timely information. Companies and schools can use their apps to help employees and students adjust quickly to continually changing circumstances.

Localize the Experience

One of the reasons a mobile app is valuable for timely communications is because companies and schools can deliver a localized experience to every user. Specifically, they can share timely information via the app tailored to each person and their physical location. 

Delivering this information via a mobile app is possible due to personas that represent the unique profiles of each user type (think Marketing, Sales and Finance in a company, and faculty, graduate students, new students, and parents in a campus setting). By loading relevant content under each profile, businesses and schools can be certain app users see the information most pertinent to them. It’s also possible to push notifications and communications directly to personas, tailored to each person’s needs.

With a mobile app, companies and schools can deliver relevant mobile app experience based on whether someone is on campus, off campus, in the office, or at home. For instance, a business could show location and hours for local eateries to employees working in the office, while a school could display the shuttle schedule to those on campus — and omit those details for those in their home or off campus. 

Of course, the world has changed. In the new highly distributed workplace, these types of notifications are more likely to express important topics such as:

  • Provide ready access to up-to-date local protocols, policies and guidelines
  • Alert employees about shifts in the return-to-work plan
  • Notify students and their families about changes to life on campus and shifting plans around remote learning
  • Nudge healthy behaviors with proximity-based messages, for example, remind an employee to use hand sanitizer before entering a conference room or cafeteria 

As a result, companies and schools can ensure employees and students receive only relevant information and guidance – and are empowered and prepared for anything. Plus, personalized, timely communications instill trust that the organization is on top of the situation and doing all it can to keep families, students, and employees informed and safe.

Effectively Communicating via a Mobile App 

According to McKinsey & Company, effective communications during a crisis can go a long way to alleviating fear and instilling confidence in an organization. With that in mind, the consulting firm suggests organizations embrace the following tenets — all of which can be enabled via a mobile app:

  1. Give people what they need, when they need it. With a mobile app, it’s possible to keep constituents in the know, in the moment. It’s also easy to share information as situations evolve. While communications tend to be more urgent as situations are changing, they shift to adjusting to help people make sense of the uncertainty and changes. 
  2. Communicate clearly, simply, frequently. People can only absorb so much information at a given time. Communications via a mobile app are perfectly suited to short, frequent messages that help reinforce critical information. For instance, sending alerts to check temperature or the latest in-office or on-campus guidelines. McKinsey & Company shared an example of Walmart’s 6-20-100 guidance for employees: “stand six feet away to maintain a safe physical distance, take 20 seconds for good hand washing, consider a body temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit the signal to stay home from public activity.” A mobile app also proves valuable as a tool for reinforcing messages. McKinsey cited one study that found “an audience needs to hear a health-risk-related message nine to 21 times to maximize its perception of that risk. When it comes to hearing from employers during COVID-19, one study found that 63 percent of employees asked for daily updates and 20 percent wanted communications several times a day.
  3. Build resilience. McKinsey underscores the far-reaching effects of COVID-19, from well-being to the economic. As organizations acknowledge the ways the pandemic has upended our senses of normalcy, McKinsey advises they take steps to shore up resilience. Here again, a mobile app comes into play. 

Enable Agility to Adapt and Foster a Resilient Culture 

A mobile app goes beyond unifying the distributed workforce or campus. It can actually further foster the corporate and campus culture. Used effectively, a mobile app can help transform the digital workplace and campus experience to be even better than it was before COVID-19. By featuring a COVID-19 information center and a “Getting Through Things Together” module on its mobile app’s home screen, Huntington Hospital  is keeping its employees connected and informed. Used this way, a mobile app is an essential tool and shared experience for helping communities come back stronger together.

Learn how the no-code Modo platform enables companies and schools to quickly and affordably build and deploy an app that serves their needs today and in the future.

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