Employee Engagement
November 13th, 2020

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How IT and HR Can Build Trust While Bringing Employees Back to the Office

As COVID-19 turned traditional working on its head, the workforce has embraced flexibility, technology, and autonomy. Now it’s time for leaders to view employee experience in 2021 through a new lens.

Looking forward to 2021, the state of the workplace is in flux. With employee experience subject to the influence of several highly unpredictable circumstances, how do you balance employee needs in real time with the strategic approach you need to create a strong future?

Here’s how a workplace app supports the new employee experience — without taking away their peace of mind.

What has COVID-19 changed about the employee experience?

The coronavirus pandemic has had major ramifications for how employees expect to collaborate and engage when they come back to the workplace.

On one hand, it’s important to consider how unpredictable circumstances, heightened anxiety, and a sense of chaos in their daily lives can all influence the way employees want to engage at work.

And at the same time, the workplace and workplace software should bring a sense of coherence. Employees want structure and normalcy — in fact, that's one of the biggest reasons for wanting to return to the office according to Digital.com’s recent poll results.

They want a more dynamic workplace  without giving up the benefits they’ve grown accustomed to at home. Here's how their behavior and preferences have evolved.

Employees want more opportunities to connect

Today, technology has transformed the way employees expect to collaborate with colleagues and interact with the workplace. The way people work has expanded to include more virtual and flexible working arrangements, but there's always going to be a need for some face-to-face communication.

The top reason employees say they want to return to the office is for more social interaction with their coworkers. This can be challenging, as offices are forced to limit capacity to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Most companies are addressing this by bringing employees in phases or eliminating assigned seats in favor of a more flexible workplace. However you manage your return, the office may look unfamiliar to your workforce without effective ways to navigate the office.

Wayfinding from a mobile app can help employees find coworkers, meeting rooms, and available workspaces quickly. The right wayfinding software can also preventing employees from getting lost and minimizing interaction with high-touch traffic areas .

Anticipate a more autonomous workforce

Employees don't want to sit at a desk because it's required.

Your workplace software and apps should allow space booking and give your employees the visibility they need to support their needs. That includes full visibility into desk and room availability, equipment and amenities, and an easy way to navigate to a space.

They should also enable employees to book any workspace — desks, huddle spaces, conference rooms, phone booths, or any other spaces — based on their preferences. Office space booking systems help address that need.

Post-pandemic, employers should provide employees with greater control over how they engage with the workplace. One of the best ways leaders can engage employees is by giving them a greater sense of autonomy in their environment using room scheduling software, office wayfinding and more.

Employees are embracing technology with open arms

In 2019, 86% of employees said they preferred meetings that embrace new technology and the ability to bring their own devices, including laptops, phones, tablets, and smartwatches with them.

Now that remote work has become the norm, they're relying on technology every day to work on projects, coordinate with their team, and meet with colleagues. And they're not just spending more time on their laptops.

Since the start of the pandemic, most employees have spent more time on their phones. In fact, the amount of time spent using smartphones increased by 23 minutes per day on average for adults in the United States. 

In the coming years, companies will need to have the workplace software and tools that support a distributed workforce, so employees can interact and engage from any device, anywhere.

Flexibility is key to employee satisfaction

Moving forward, 72% of employees want a hybrid working model that gives them the ability to return to the office on some days and work from home on others. 

Not only do employees prefer the option to work from home, it also benefits their productivity. A study conducted by IWG showed 85% of employees report being more productive as a result of having greater flexibility. 

More than ever, people want to remain connected wherever they choose to work.

Employers will need to keep up with these trends to retain and attract top talent. In the IWG study, 70% of businesses cite flexible working as playing a major role in widening the talent pool.

What features do employees want in a workplace app?

For those who are eager to return, an employee experience app addresses many of the challenges they've faced during this time. Workplace apps that provide resources and helpful tools should be a key enabler of collaboration and productivity in the workplace.

Turning your view to 2021, employee experience will continue to be influenced by a higher number of contextual factors. This means workplace leaders should provide employees with a sense of security and more flexibility when they return.

Here are the features employees care about in a workplace app.

Ease of use

Employee mobile apps should enable productivity. That's an important purpose, but it's not enough to consider the functionality of an app without considering how the design and ease of use will impact employees.

If an app is poorly designed or difficult to use, it won't live up to the tools they're familiar with in their own lives. And you're unlikely to increase productivity if people are spending time fumbling with your workplace app. 

Usability means productivity. Apps with a user-friendly and intuitive user interface (UI) have higher adoption rates because they're easier for employees to use and fit seamlessly into their day-to-day lives. That means if an employee can find a room with easy-to-use wayfinding software, the quicker they can reach their destination and continue task productivity. 

Live notifications and alerts

Communicating with employees will be a critical part of any return. Employee apps allow you to send mass push notifications with important information, company news, safety alerts, and personalized notifications for individual employees.

If you discover an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, you need a way to respond quickly while protecting sensitive information.

Integrating with a visitor management system will make contact tracing easy, with a secure log that you can reference to see who was in the office at the time and who may have been in close proximity to the individual who tested positive. 

Using a workplace app, you'll be able to confidentially notify anyone on the floor or within a particular department of a potential exposure and communicate any testing that you may require before coming back to the office.

How Teem's workplace app helps employees return to work confidently

Maintain flexibility as you move forward

There has been a massive growth in digital adoption, particularly when it comes to conferencing software, collaboration tools, and other remote working solutions. 

Without technology, company resilience wouldn't have been possible. Connection would have been much more difficult, work processes would have been too slow, and we wouldn't see the rapid acceleration of digital transformation and flexible work. 

In the future, leaders should invest in a more flexible and tech-enabled employee experience, from the tools they use at home to the apps that improve their journey in the workplace.

Embrace the future of your workplace with employees in mind

The pandemic disrupted routines and has fundamentally changed how employees expect to engage with the workplace.

Fortunately, Teem's mobile app helps leaders provide employees with the power to choose a place to work on-demand or in advance, easy access to relevant and important information, and more opportunities to collaborate in a meaningful way. 

Our workplace app makes it easy for employees to find people and places, reserve space, request service, and receive mail, visitors, and announcements.

It also gives leaders the real time data they need to make quick adjustments and keep keep their workforce connected, safely. 

Employees have quickly shifted to working online and with apps. As they embrace technology, leaders should support a positive employee experience with a workplace app.

Put your best foot forward with Teem's mobile app. Learn more about Teem's Return-To-Work Starter Kit by booking a demo.

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