11 reasons to implement an employee app

2021 update – we now offer a leading employee app called LiveTiles Reach.

Digital communication is critical for work and even more so during the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential that we are able to communicate successfully, not only in a rapidly evolving and stressful situation, but also just to keep operations going. However, this can be more challenging when there is a remote, distributed workforce, some of whom may not even have corporate digital identities (usually an email address) or corporate-owned devices.

The power of an employee mobile app

Most organisations are finding that a robust and reliable way to communicate with the entire workforce is through an employee engagement app or internal communications app; this needs to be available on any device, either iOS or Android, either corporate-issued or employee-owned.

An employee app (sometimes also called an employee engagement app) helps to drive a better employee experience by acting as:

  • an app for internal communications
  • a place to access social, collaboration and messaging tools,
  • access important information, for example contact details or operational information
  • sometimes perform simple transactions.

Because employee apps are powerful, the market has exploded in recent years, with multiple offerings, including Reach from LiveTiles, which is available through Content Formula.

 

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

Eleven reasons to consider an employee mobile app

Lets explore some of the benefits of deploying an employee communication app.

1. We consume information on our mobile devices

These days we all consume information, carry out transactions and run our busy lives from our mobile device. The idea of being without a mobile device is unthinkable for many. By using an employee app, you can extend the patterns of communication carried out by most of us into the workplace. In terms of technology, workplace trends often follow consumer trends, so an employee app is a no brainer.

2. It can reach frontline and deskless employees

Many sectors such as retail, leisure, manufacturing, logistics, transport, travel and construction have a significant proportion of the workforce who can be considered to be frontline, deskless, blue collar or field employees. Essentially, they do not have easy access to a terminal during the working day and many more may not even have digital identities or corporate email addresses. A mobile app is simply the best way to communicate with this important demographic, who in the past have tended to miss out on digital communications.

3. All employees are on the go, even in the office

Although an employee communication app may be used to most frequently by frontline or deskless workers, actually all employees may find themselves on the go, visiting different locations or travelling between them. Even working within an office environment with meetings means that an employee communication app can be very useful for people who find themselves frequently moving around the building or those who are based on campus style environments.

4. An app supports crisis communications

The pandemic has shown the importance of crisis communications  that your entire workforce can reach quickly. This has never been more important in a rapidly evolving situation. A mobile app is simply the best way to reach your entire workforce in real time to send trusted, authoritative communications that keep people informed.

5. An app is better for real-time reactions

Sometimes you also need to get quick reactions from employees back to coordinate operations, to get feedback on something or even for people to check-in and confirm they are OK in a crisis. Because an app pretty much removes all barriers to use, if any communication needs a real-time reply quickly then a mobile app is the best way to get a reaction quickly or to get a quick pulse-check of employee sentiment.

 

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

6. An employee app is quick, easy and convenient

Sometimes an employee communication app is simply quicker and more efficient for information consumption, for example quickly scanning messages or reading updates. You are not necessarily having to open and authenticate into your intranet and employees may already be looking at their mobile device anyway. Collectively this can save everybody time and arguably can even contribute to increasing productivity.

7. An app encourages shorter and more focused messaging

An employee communication app that is used for messaging and for interaction, has an interesting impact in that it can encourage more focused, shorter communications and often ones that may be more social in nature, reflecting how we use social media, often from our own mobile device. This results in shorter and more engaging content, which is usually more impactful and saves everybody time.

8. Employee communication apps are great for uploading camera and video

One of the excellent things about any communication app on a mobile device is that it can utilise the native features of your phone, in particular the camera. With an app it is super-easy and feels natural to upload photos and video they have taken from their device; in practice this means people are far more likely to share media content than they would on a desktop-based intranet. This has loads of potential benefits including knowledge sharing, more poignant communications (for example a CED video) and also business processes where sharing photos is helpful, for example on reporting things which need fixing or comparing shop window displays.

9. You can run processes that require being off-site

An employee communication app can also be very useful when you need to either view information or submit information for processes when you are off-site or out in the field. For example, you may need to submit data when inspecting a site, need to view product information when with a customer, or send an update about the outcome of a meeting. An employee communication app supports processes where people are off-site.

10. Reducing risks

When employees dont have a good way to communicate or access information with their mobile phone inevitably, they will turn to alternative solutions and shadow IT. Using these unauthorised apps  (often designed for consumer use) can involve security and privacy risks, as they may not meet the criteria for your organisation. Having a fully approved and secure employee communication app can help reduce risks by reducing the need for employees to turn other apps.

11. It supports a more remote and mobile future

For a while now work has ceased be a place that you go to. The current pandemic has been a catalyst for digital workplace trends that were already happening in terms of far greater emphasis on remote working and a mobile future. An employee app that you can build upon and expand in terms of its range of services can you help to prepare for the future.

 

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

The advantages of using Reach, an employee app from LiveTiles

Through our established partnership with LiveTiles we are able to help customers implement the Reach employee app. This is a robust and user-friendly employee communications app that is proving to be valuable during the current COVID-19 pandemic as a way to communicate with all employees through the crisis.

The strengths of LiveTiles Reach include:

  • The ability to provide internal communications to keep employees informed
  • More social posts and interaction to drive engagement and boost morale
  • Access to a people directory with contact details
  • Provide access to critical documents and pages of reference material to support processes and aid operations
  • Encourage knowledge sharing and discussions via social sharing
  • Provide one app, connecting employees across locations including frontline and deskless workers
  • Ability to be accessed on all devices, including personal iOS and Android phones, while also retaining robust security
  • No need to have a Microsoft 365 license
  • Can integrate with Microsoft 365, MS Teams, core HR systems and more
  • Supports multi-language
  • Very scalable and flexible, suiting from very large to small organisations
  • In-built analytics.

Considering an employee app?

Implementing an employee app has several benefits, particularly in driving a great employee experience across a workforce with frontline, deskless or blue collar workers. If you are considering an employee app then LiveTiles Reach is a strong option to consider. Get in touch if you would like to discuss deploying an employee app or would like a product demo.

Webinar: 3 great PowerApps examples that can enhance your digital workplace

Webinar: 3 great PowerApps examples that can enhance your digital workplace | Register now

Webinar details

Date:  4th June 2020
Time:  2:00pm to 3:00pm UK time

PowerApps is a fantastic tool that allows organisations to quickly build bespoke apps.

These apps could enhance processes, enable communication, improve employee engagement and more.

In this webinar we’ll show you 3 great examples of apps which were built for different scenarios, giving you insights into the possibilities and constraints of working with the PowerApps platform.

At the end we will run a Q&A session and do our best to answer your specific questions about all aspects of working with PowerApps.

Register now!

 

Enterprise Contact Tracing: what you can do in the digital workplace to become “Covid secure”

With the UK government recently launching the Track and Trace app on the Isle of Wright an app that is designed to let you know if you have come in to contact with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus, businesses globally are coming under increasing pressure to come up with solutions to keep their employees safe becoming Covid Secure – whilst allowing them to return to their day to day work.

At Content Formula, one approach we have been working on is how technology can be implemented to help employers understand how their employees are interacting and creating ways to protect them should issues arise. Making use of enterprise mobile applications, device Bluetooth features as well as dedicated hardware, we can create solutions that can let executives and HR employees track who may have come in to contact with Coronavirus, even perhaps without being around the person who is directly infected.

Unlike the UK governments approach of adoption through continual marketing and social responsibility messaging, solutions can be made mandatory through enterprise mobile device management schemes, ensuring that all employees are served the app and dont have the ability to even remove it. And this technology could even be delivered through an existing mobile application (such as a corporate comms app), simply utilising the devices Bluetooth and reporting all the information back to the central service.

A three pronged approach

Bluetooth has long been a technology that has been used in smart devices your Bluetooth these days is usually always on and listening for connections to other devices. But what this means is that this open connection can actually be picked up on by other devices, also on the lookout for open connections. Applications can leverage this listening method to capture which devices in the area are also listening, and because of Bluetooths limited range capabilities, you can be fairly confident that the peron with the device was within the vicinity of the other listening device, unlike perhaps GPS which can range from being very accurate in ideal conditions, to being extremely inaccurate in multistory buildings.

Going a step further than the UK government app, we have been working more and more lately  with Bluetooth Beacons a technology that allows you to precisely identify locations (within 2 feet) that individuals have visited. For instance, if person A sits in a particular meeting room at 10am, and person B sits in that same room at 11am, however doesnt come directly in to contact with person A, there may still be a chance of infection. Bluetooth beacons can be used in such a scenario. They listen to all people passing them and can report back centrally the log list of events, including time / date, exact location, duration and person.

Now with all of this obviously comes privacy and data capture concerns. We dont want to create technology solutions that feel intrusive and prevent privacy. Geofencing is a way to ensure that the application is only tracking and tracing when in certain areas or scenarios employees probably dont want you tracing them whilst they are in their homes, but if they are in the workplace, this functionality could be switched back on to trace who exactly they come in to contact with.

If youd like more information, please contact us where we can arrange a demo.

Microsoft Teams governance best practice

The governance of Microsoft Teams is a topic that clients keep on asking us about. Having effective governance in place is important, not only to manage risks around privacy and security, but also to make your Teams environment easier to manage and to drive adoption.  It is very easy for a Teams environment to get out of control with a sprawl of sites that is difficult to manage and negatively impacts the user experience; having robust governance will help make Microsoft Teams more successful and sustainable across your organisation.

The governance of Teams has never been more important. As the coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to switch to remote working almost overnight, Teams adoption has been dramatically scaled up and platforms rolled out. Expediency may have meant that not all organisations have had time to consider and prioritise governance. However, once the dust has settled it is important to think about how you can establish some processes and implement policies across the platform.

In this article we are going to take a deeper dive into the governance of MS Teams and some of the areas to consider. It is worth noting that Microsoft keeps on investing in MS Teams so it is very possible additional governance capabilities may be available by the time you are reading this! Well aim to keep this article up to date as changes appear.

Lets explore some different areas of governance relating to MS Teams.

1. MS Teams in your overall digital workplace governance framework

The overall governance of MS Teams needs to be considered in the context of your wider digital workplace or intranet governance framework and related content strategy. Governance covers the policies, processes, standards, bodies and other elements that will dictate how you run your Teams environment in terms of aspects such as overall ownership, security, support, training, strategic governance and more.

More specifically it needs to address:

  • Who is responsible for each Teams space?
  • What Teams spaces are used for and what other channels are used for
  • The use of other collaboration tools like Slack
  • Support and training an area we look at in more detail below.

2. Teams provisioning

Out of the box, Teams allows any user to set up a team and run it how they want. However, there are settings and options available that allow you to control the Teams provisioning process. This process is critical for effective governance and is your opportunity to put controls in place to limit Teams sprawl. Sprawl happens for a variety of reasons including duplicate teams set up by different people; teams set up by people trying out teams for the first time; teams that have a fixed lifespan but are not decommissioned. If you want to avoid Teams sprawl, you need to control the provisioning in some way.

The site provisioning process is also an opportunity to collect metadata about each team that can help you manage the platform later on, and even create model teams (Teams templates) spaces for different purposes. With an effective provisioning process, you can:

  • Put in approval workflow for the creation of a team and vary this depending on who is requesting the team or what the purpose of it is
  • Vary the type of team to be created based on different criteria, spinning up teams based on templates and even force people to use alternatives such as team sites or Yammer groups
  • Collect the metadata and information that can help with a variety of different areas; this is not only approval workflow and type of team, but also to support findability, the creation of central directories of teams, team owner review processes and more
  • Enforce policies such as team naming conventions.

Some of these topics are covered in more detail below.

Team provisioning in MS Teams straight out of the box is pretty limited so you either need to supplement it with a product like Wizdom for Teams which has an effective provisioning engine (and doubles up as a Teams intranet), or by building Teams customisations using tools like SharePoint, PowerApps and Power Automate and suited to your specific needs. We have worked with both approaches and they can be highly effective. When you take this approach, you also need to lock down the out of the box capability in the admin settings.

With Wizdoms provisioning capability you can create the provisioning experience from within MS Teams for users but then create, depending on the purpose of the site being requested and who is requesting it, varying approval workflows, a template for that Team space or even an alternative type of space such as a Yammer group, a SharePoint team site or Office 365 group.

3. Metadata and other information

The point at which you provision a team is your opportunity to collect any data you need about the team from the person requesting it in order to help with governance; using a product like Wizdom or  a customised provisioning tool allows you to create the form you need to gather all the associated critical metadata you need. This metadata can determine the rules to follow around workflow, type of site and more; you can also associate Power Automate (formerly Flow) to trigger even more complex workflows and notifications.

Other metadata and information to gather can also underpin critical elements of Teams governance such as:

  • Establishing who are the owners or users
  • Setting a review date to check the team is still needed
  • Level of security associated with the team
  • Tags to aid findability, for example in keyword searches on your SharePoint intranet or categories in a site directory
  • A clear description of the Team purpose.

Again, using Teams out of the box just does not provide you with these opportunities to implement robust governance.

4. Lifecycle management

Site provisioning is key, but so is also knowing when to close down a site. Using the metadata collected means you can put in effective processes around the proper lifecycle management of a Teams space. For example, putting in a review date and effective workflow means you can offer notifications to a team owner to review their team, and then additional workflow to delete or archive it based on the results of the review. This helps you to keep your Teams environment up to date and less cluttered, supporting a better user experience, while still ensuring compliance with wider information management policies relating to deletion.

5. Individual Teams configuration via templates

As already stated, using a provisioning engine means you can also create different templates for Teams sites depending on their purpose, with default channels set up, standard tabs, folder structures, integrations and even pre-set documents added. For example, your organisation may have a standard project methodology and you may want to automatically set up sites for users that have a channel for each step of your project methodology. Perhaps you may want to set up a site for marketing teams working on a bid that includes branded PowerPoint templates. Take a look at our video case study on a custom Teams provisioning tool using templates that we built for a private equity firm to help them better manage investments.

To make this effective you need to use a product like Wizdom, carry out a customisation or an expert-driven configuration. Although with out of the box Teams there is the ability to use a template by copying another site, users can only pick from a list of all Teams spaces which is simply not effective.

6. Other administration policies

Teams administrators usually working in the IT function or digital workplace team are also able to set important policies which can be implemented across the platform and again are an essential part of governance; these can align to your wider information management, data security and digital workplace policies. For example, you can control:

  • The navigation options for the whole platform, for example adding different Teams apps which can even be targeted to different groups and locking down different features
  • Messaging policies that impact the ability to collaborate externally, for example stopping all external users accessing spaces or more specifically viewing documents
  • Trusted domains for external users, for example only allowing email addresses from a certain organisation
  • Naming conventions for teams to aid findability
  • Default or suggested Teams for new starters based on their profile
  • Wider archiving policies
  • Define the format of certain types of information that cannot be added to a Team such as a credit card number.

7. Governance controls for individual owners

Each individual team also has a raft of governance measures such as who can access the Team, whether particular channels are private, what users can see within each channel and other configuration options.

8. Training and support

Another critical element of your wider governance of MS Teams is the training and support that helps drive adoption and best use. This might include:

  • Self-service resources on how to use Teams
  • The role of the IT helpdesk in answering queries
  • An expert support community
  • Targeted training
  • Guidance on when to use Teams and when not to use Teams
  • Campaigns to help drive usage
  • Local champions and coordinators
  • A central team responsible for strategy and adoption.

Optimising your MS Teams platform with governance

Governance is essential for your MS Teams environment, helping to minimise risk and make the platform more manageable, but also to optimise the user experience. If youd like to discuss any of the points in this article or need help establishing robust governance for Teams then get in touch!

What is an intranet and 10 key benefits for a business

Intranets have been part of the workplace technology landscape for over twenty years and continue to be an area where organizations choose to invest and find valuable. One of the reasons for this is that intranets have themselves evolved over on the years to take on a much wider set of capabilities. The modern is very different from the intranet of even a few years ago which tende. Despite this, there are still some questions about intranets in their value. In this article we are going to explore what an intranet is and ten ways in which it drives benefits for an organization.

What is an intranet?

Although definitions for an intranet differ from organization to organization and are partly defined by the capabilities they have, in general an intranet is regarded as a private website for employees that includes content and other features that help employees stay informed, complete tasks and find information. This is mainly achieved through a publishing platform that also has search capabilities, but there are also likely to be additional features, tools and even integrations. For example, your intranet may have an employee directory, a place to book meeting rooms, a video channel and more.

One of the things that many people dont appreciate about intranets is that they deliver a whole range of different benefits. Lets explore ten key areas where intranets add value.

1. Internal and leadership communications

A key role of the intranet is to drive internal communications. Employees need to be kept informed and updated about whats happening in the company and intranets are a key channel to enable this with news and announcements. Intranets are also a great channel for leadership communications such as updates from the CEO.

What makes internal communications far more effective on a modern intranet is the ability to carry out content targeting so messages are truly relevant and delivered to the right audience, based on aspects such as a persons role, location and division. On some intranets, employees can also subscribe to topics of interest.

Another important element that means intranets work well for internal and leadership communications is that different kinds of messages are usually catered for, covering everything from big formal announcements to informal social posts to operational updates to videos from the CEO.

2. Amplifying your culture and supporting dialogue

Intranets are usually a reflection of an organisations culture but also act as a platform to amplify and influence that culture too. This can be done in different ways such as leadership communications, information about values, people updates, information about CSR activities and so on. Providing the ability for users to share successes, do shout outs to peers and give updates also allows the great things that are happening across your company to bubble up to the surface and mirror the best parts of your culture.

Another important element of an intranet is it can also give everyone a voice, allowing users to give feedback, create blogs, express opinions and more. This can be critical in helping to drive engagement and creating dialogue, also allowing leaders to get a sense of how employees are feeling and creating a good rapport that cuts across organisational hierarchies.

3. Getting things done

The single biggest ticket item for intranets to do is to help employees get things done. An intranet will help your employees complete everyday tasks through a variety of different elements, saving everybody time and driving efficiency. Intranets deliver this in several different ways including:

  • Helping employees find documents, people and apps through search and navigation
  • Providing information on how to complete simple tasks
  • Aggregating personalised reminders and approvals across multiple systems in a more efficient way than email
  • Providing a starting point for forms and workflow
  • Integrating with other apps to view data and carry out simple transactions, such as requesting annual leave.

4. Finding what you need

Helping employees find what they need is a staple of the intranet. Employees need to be able to find information, documents, people, apps, workspaces and more to carry out their role, to complete tasks and to collaborate. A good intranet saves on the enormous amount of time that gets wasted by  people trying to find what they need. An effective intranet supports strong findability through:

  • Providing a point to carry out a search, ideally looking though the intranet and related systems
  • Having an intuitive navigation
  • Personalized toolbars and menu items that allow people to reach apps, sites and workspaces they use everyday
  • Access to special directories of information including the employee directory.

5. One source of truth for reliable information

Intranets can act as the one source of truth for authoritative and reliable information that employees need to access on a regular basis. Knowing that the version of an HR policy document or information about products and services is fully up to date and accurate ensures employees are able to be more effective.

Being able to reference content and other material helps employees to follow particular processes and carry out tasks; this can cover supporting customers, ensuring brand standards are met, driving sales, makimg decisions and more! Having a one source of truth for documents and information might not sound very exciting, but it is absolutely critical.

6. Collaboration and communities

Collaboration is important for organisations in getting work done efficiently but also in other processes like innovation. Intranets support collaboration by providing access to relevant sites and workspaces, but also sometimes though providing collaboration tools themselves, as well as resources that help people to understand how to use and get the best out of these tools. Collaboration can come in many different shapes such as project workspaces, Communities of Practice and even external collaboration sites, all of which can be supported by the intranet.

An intranet is also often integrated with social networking tools and platforms such as Yammer that help to drive more enterprise-wide discussions but can also support areas for non-work -related groups such as sports activities.

Overall an intranet that supports collaboration and communities creates enormous value, breaking down geographical and hierarchical siloes and driving connections between employees.

7. Sharing and accessing knowledge

Knowledge management (KM) is still an important for many organisations particularly in sectors like professional services, financial services and engineering; KM helps employees share best practices, use templates for model documents, support R&D activities and avoid wasting time by reinventing the wheel. Effective knowledge management also ensures people can easily find experts and get answers to questions or related advice. An intranet is the best vehicle for knowledge management, helping people find documents and content, share knowledge through Communities of Practice and locate experts through rich, detailed employee directories.

8. Standardisation of approaches

Large global companies can be diverse and complex, especially if they have been built up by acquisition. Sometimes large companies want to help drive common standards and processes across all of their different locations and divisions; this can happen in many different ways including the  way people work, how customer service is carried out, policies such as Diversity and Inclusion, branding and many others. Sometimes they may want to onboard a new acquisition quickly.

Intranets are a great tool to standardise approaches because they allow everybody to access the same information but also provide connections between people in different offices. If you want to be a truly global company, you need a truly global intranet.

9. Front door to the wider digital workplace

A more recent role of the intranet has been to act as a highly convenient front door to the wider digital workplace, the portfolio of different apps, systems and platform that employees use every day. An intranet which contains links to all the different apps people need to use can act as a launchpad to accessing systems such as Workday, ServiceNow and the whole of the Microsoft 365 suite. Ideally there should also be Single Sign-On (SSO) so employees dont need to enter a log-in or password. Some intranets also go further, including integrations with different systems to display data or carry out simple transactions.

10. Facilitating remote work

We have all seen during the COVID-19 crisis the importance of the entire workforce being able to work remotely. A good intranet supports this on several fronts including the ability to access critical information such as contact details pointing people to the right tools and collaboration sites, providing tips and guidance on remote working and even a place employees can connect with their colleagues to make the working day a little less lonely. Great intranets are doing their bit for helping us all navigate the current crisis.

Need advice on your intranet? Then get in touch!

Great intranets deliver a range of benefits but not everybody has a great intranet. If youd like to discuss how to improve your intranet then get in touch.

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