November 13th, 2020

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

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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 an employee experience 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 to want to engage at work.

And at the same time, the workplace and workplace software should bring a sense of coherence to the employee experience. 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 in the employee experience.

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 employee experience app can help people find coworkers, meeting rooms, and available workspaces quickly. The right wayfinding software can also prevent employees from getting lost and minimize interaction with high-touch traffic areas.

Anticipate a more autonomous employee experience

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

Your workplace software and employee experience apps should allow space booking and give your employees the visibility they need to be successful. That includes full visibility into desk and room availability, equipment and amenities, and an easy way to navigate in the space.

They should also enable employees to book any workspace — desks, huddle spaces, conference rooms, phone booths, or other space types — based on their preferences. An office space booking system and employee experience app can 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 for leaders to engage employees is giving them a greater sense of autonomy in the office environment using room scheduling software, office wayfinding, and other helpful tools from an employee experience app.

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 teams, 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 an employee experience app to support hybrid employees with the ability to connect and engage from any device, anywhere. In the future, great decision-making will rely on your ability to collect and analyze the data from workplace software and tools used to support your distributed workforce,

Flexibility is key to a satisfying employee experience

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, but 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. 

In the study, 70% of businesses cited flexible working as playing a major role in widening the talent pool.

More than ever, people want to remain connected wherever they choose to work — and you need to keep this in mind when you consider the future of the employee experience. Keeping up with these trends can impact your ability to retain and attract top talent.

What features do employees want in an employee experience app?

For those who are eager to return, an employee experience app addresses many of the challenges they've faced during this time. In the workplace, employee experience apps provide a link between employees and the resources and tools they need. An employee experience app will be a key enabler of collaboration and productivity in the hybrid 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 people want in an employee experience app.

Ease of use

Employee experience 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 within their own lives. And you're unlikely to increase productivity if people are spending time fumbling with your workplace app. 

Usability means productivity.  Employee experience 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 experience 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.

An employee experience app that integrates 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 an employee experience 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 employee experience app builds confidence

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. The connection between colleagues, leadership, company systems, and customers would have been much more difficult. Work processes would have been too slow and we wouldn't have seen the rapid acceleration of digital transformation and flexible work models.

Fortunately, those who leveraged technology quickly were able to minimize the impact of the pandemic.

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

Embrace the future with the employee experience in mind

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

Fortunately, Teem's mobile employee experience app helps empower officegoers to choose a seat, desk, or room on-demand or in advance. Our employee experience app also gives employees easy access to important information and provides more opportunities to collaborate with one another in a meaningful way. 

Our employee experience app makes it easier to find people and places, reserve workspace, request services, and receive mail, visitors, and announcements. It also delivers the real-time data leaders need to make quick adjustments so they are able to keep their workforce connected, safely. 

Employees have made the leap from being in the office to working remotely using online work systems and apps. As they continue to embrace technology, leaders should be prepared for a workplace that meets new expectations. An employee experience app can help you put your best foot forward.

 Learn more about Teem's Return-To-Office solutions by booking a demo.

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