In this blog series, we’ve been looking at four key areas your organization needs to address when your employees, tenants, or other occupants return to the workplace. In this post, we’ll be looking at the importance of reengaging employees and how smart building technology can help.
For all organizations, the global pandemic has heightened the need for efficient communications, during a time when many employees have been working remotely from home. As facilities reopen and some or all of those occupants return to the workplace, it will be even more important to stay connected to employees to keep them safe and informed.
Meeting this challenge offers organizations a great opportunity to use smart building technology to increase employee engagement, which in turn, can deliver many dimensions of benefits. According to a study by Gallup, highly engaged teams directly correspond with better business outcomes, with the most successful of these helping increase customer loyalty by 10%, profitability by 21%, and productivity by 20%. Not only does this represent a significant competitive differentiator, Gallup also recognizes that more engaged employees are “more likely to remain with their organization.”
Today’s workforce of Millennials and Gen Z are also digitally savvy. Increasingly, ‘mobile-first’ professionals expect the same level of connectivity, convenience, and control at the office as they experience outside of work.
These trends are driving the development of a new breed of mobile engagement apps that are empowering employees with a digitized workplace experience. These smart apps deliver high-value, easy-to-access digital services that keep employees and tenants connected and informed, whether working at the office or from home. The most powerful of these apps act as a platform that lets a company integrate a flexible choice of building management, IT, and concierge services into a single, unified portal. Let’s look at some of these capabilities.
Smart Building Apps Connect People To Safety
Occupants need clear and up-to-date instructions when returning to the workplace. Receiving disparate email communications from different senders can be confusing or, worse, be lost in an inbox.
Smart building engagement apps act as a mobile central communication hub – a single ‘source of truth’ where employees can immediately access the latest information on company and site policy. An app can also integrate COVID-19 information feeds from official federal, state, and local sources.
Administrators can deliver critical notifications about changing site situations – sent as either high-visibility push or banner notifications – directly to each user’s phone. In this way, employees know exactly what to expect today and during the week. Facility and HR teams can target communications by personas, e.g. all employees or sub-groups, such as departments and teams.
Safety can be further supported before an employee visits the office. The engagement app can be used to complete a health form for a pre-assessment. Once inside the office, their mobile device will enable a safer, touchless experience. Surfaces they regularly interact with – from elevator buttons, to room comfort controls, audio/visual devices in meeting rooms, and digital badges – can now all be remotely controlled.
Help Everyone Efficiently Find Their Way
In the ‘new normal’, occupants and visitors will need to more efficiently navigate the office. A mobile engagement app can help with every aspect of the office experience.
Engagement apps can deliver a wide range of useful information made available through the integration of multiple data sources – from internal facility, property, security, and HR systems to external news and transportation feeds – all delivered through a singular, convenient view. For example, when drivers arrive at the office, the mobile app can help them quickly locate available parking spaces. It can then be used as a ‘digital passport’ at the security entrance.
Inside the building, the app can be used for wayfinding. If the organization is using hot-desk flexible workspace scheduling, the employee can quickly locate an available, clean desk. In turn, facility teams can access maps of real-time occupancy throughout the building.
An engagement app can also help navigate to meeting rooms or other points of interest, such as the location of personal protective equipment.
Enhance The Work Environment
The newest apps can include a full range of comfort control and maintenance features. This includes simple control over temperature, lights, or blinds in an office or meeting room. If there are problems with systems or equipment, the app can be used to communicate with the helpdesk. The employee can also self-report a maintenance issue by using their mobile device to take a picture and submit a ticket directly into the facility management system.
Common activities during the workday are also streamlined. An integrated company directory makes contact with anyone just a tap of a finger away. When it comes time to book a meeting, the app will find and reserve an available room, as well as helping arrange catering for guests and registering them for a site visit.
When concierge services are included, employees can quickly access information and reservations for the cafeteria, fitness club, or transit. They can also use opt-in channels for clubs, communities, or people with common interests, etc. The engagement app will also keep people working from home more closely connected to the office, their coworkers, and community activities.
Continuously Improve The Experience
Engagement apps are helping deepen the employee connection. With unique customizing and branding, the app becomes an extension of the smart building workplace and company experience, directly in the hand of each employee.
And extensive data analysis tools can help the administrator see how the app is being used, by persona, location, service, and device. Using this insight, apps can be continuously improved over time by adding or changing services. Organizations should seek an open, agile engagement platform that can dynamically adapt services to the changing needs of the company and its people.
Our EcoStruxure™ Engage Enterprise App helps boost employee engagement and productivity with a convenient, customizable, and cyber-secure mobile app that enables access to valuable digital workplace services. The next post in this series will look at technology and space management, a key consideration as workers return to the office.