Remote work is no longer a “nice to have” option for the workplace, or only something that large enterprises and tech startups can afford to implement correctly. Remote working solutions are now front of mind for SMBs globally.
In PwC’s 2019 study of over 1000 executives across 10 sectors and 79 countries, 71% of respondents indicated that supporting remote work was crucial to future workplace operations.
Remote employees can come in many forms:
Employees at other site locations instead of head office
Sales team members who are always out in the field
Team members who need to travel often, across the country or world
Employees who work from home, coworking spaces, or in coffee shops part-time
Fully remote employees, contractors or freelancers
You probably already have some of these people within your organization, or would like functionality to support these type of workers efficiently in the future.
67% of business leaders believe that offering remote working solutions to employees can boost employee efficiency by at least a fifth (according to IWG’s 2019 Global Workspace Survey), as time spent out of the office can boost happiness, leading to less sick days.
The current issues between remote workers and managers
One of the pain points we often see in our clients’ remote working configurations is communication between remote employees and their managers. The most common problems we see arising are:
Not being able to reach each other quickly enough
Not being able to share work fast enough
Key information isn’t captured effectively in conversations which then requires either follow-up emails or further (redundant) communications
By rolling out a mobile workplace app you can help solve these critical communication issues between managers and employees.
What is a mobile workplace app?
You can think of a mobile workplace app as an extension of your internal systems.
This means it is a fully integrated, company-owned solution; a mobile version of key systems such as communications and document management. It’s a single app that gives employees access to the systems they’d have available to them in the office.
This is in contrast to external third party productivity apps such as Asana, or Trello, which only offer a singular service, rather than a fully integrated, multi-function solution.
Let’s dive into how a mobile workplace app can help boost efficiency in manager-employee communications.
Issue 1: Not being able to reach each other quickly enough Solution: Push notifications for instant personal or team comms
Usually, if you wanted to reach a remote employee instantly, you’d need to pick up the phone or use a communications tool that you knew would send a notification to their phone.
Concerned your push notifications will be ignored?
You can outline working conditions that require acknowledgment of certain notifications within a specified time period (over regular working hours), given an employee is not in a scheduled meeting.
Track that employees are compliant with these conditions by automatically documenting notification sent times and acknowledgment times, cross-referenced with your employee’s calendar.
Employees can save phone calls to their managers for urgent communications, helping cut down managers’ time spent on the phone across the day, too.
Issue 2: Not being able to share work fast enough Solution: Instant file-sharing while on the go
Heard these ones from employees before?
“Sure, I’ll email you the docs when I’m back at my desk”
“I can’t quite remember but let me follow up on that when I get to my laptop”
With smart document management systems built into a mobile workplace app, employees can easily find recently viewed documents or search within internal systems to surface them quickly.
If appropriate, they can then instantly email them to managers or even external parties (security permissions allowing). This avoids the waiting time spent between in-person chats and getting back onto work systems.
Issue 3: Key information isn’t captured effectively in conversations Solution: Conversations that are always documented and searchable
For real-time communications with remote employees or people out in the field, we’re used to them making calls to report in.
However, phone calls’ information is instantly lost the moment it comes out of the speaker’s mouth. It’s up to the listener to take notes or remember the content of the call. This poses an issue for workplace communications beyond quick conversations.
Instant messaging for crucial information is a better solution for employees and managers alike, as it is documented. If the right IM solution is in place then it can incorporate powerful search functionality (like that provided by Elastic Search). With speech to text now readily available across iOS and Android devices, it’s possible to dictate easily, too, if either party prefers not to text.
Save the voice calls for quick conversations.
Incorporate Business Intelligence solutions to measure efficiency
Want to know exactly how much more efficient communications are with a mobile workplace app? You can do this by benchmarking your current solutions, then keeping tabs on the efficiency of communication between managers and employees after app roll-out.
This can be done with Business Intelligence solutions.
Remember our example where we tracked whether employees were sending acknowledgments to push notifications in a timely manner? You can also automatically track other measurements of efficiency, such as time spent on the phone with managers and various employees, time between document requests and submissions, etc.
By pulling these measurements into reports, you can view efficiency between managers and each employee, the team overall, or even across all managers.
We’re helping organizations iron out issues in remote communications with the CentricMinds mobile workplace app
We’re acutely aware of the communication issues facing managers and remote employees. That’s why we built the CentricMinds app to not only be a helpful tool for employees in the office, but also for those who aren’t onsite.
By making the CentricMinds app a mobile extension of our workplace intranet solution, it gives employees and managers a cohesive digital experience, whether sitting in front of the computer or while on mobile on the go.