man looking at his phone on a plane
Knowledge workers aren't the only employees you need to think of when creating a digital workplace strategy. Put mobile at the center to deliver the information every employee needs PHOTO: Javier Cañada on unsplash

Where do employee apps fit in your digital workplace strategy?

The question comes up frequently as companies create plans to deliver mobile access for employee communications. To really reach them all — the drivers, the factory workers and the frontline staff — providing access to certain resources from personal devices is a requirement. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) expectation fundamentally changes the way we need to look at a digital workplace strategy.

Making Target Groups a Key Part of Your Workplace Strategy

The basis for most strategies is usually to identify key use cases the digital workplace needs to cover. There are many ways to get that ball rolling, but most organizations will probably arrive at a similar set of top-level use cases: communication, knowledge, collaboration and processes.

Digital workplace: knowledge, processes, collaboration and communication

Four top-level use cases in the digital workplace

A second step is to look at the main employee target groups within an organization. Knowledge workers are typically seen as the major users of a digital workplace, but for many companies, their employees are mainly made up of process workers who sit at desks doing tasks like accounting, HR operation or purchasing. Non-desk workers make up a third major group, and they have often been left out of "typical" digital workplace strategies. 

With all of these different employees owning a mobile device it’s possible to reach and give them access to use cases like communications, knowledge and self-service processes. A comprehensive strategy can now meet the different needs of multiple target groups with all available use cases.

step-by-step use cases for the non-desk worker

Available use cases for the non-desk worker

Define a Technology Setup That Prioritizes Mobile

What tools do employees need on their personal devices? Making use cases truly useful for mobile requires more than just a responsive site. Here are some of the essentials:

  • Native apps should be available via the public app stores
  • Brand your app. Branded apps create more trust, better onboarding numbers and increase user engagement
  • Don't require your users to log in every day. After an initial login, their app should work just like all the others on their device
  • The app should include use cases that employees really care about
  • Content should automatically personalize for the individual based on their user profile (location, business unit, job profile, etc.)
  • Push messages are a necessity to enable real-time communication and cut through the noise. Employers have seen a level of activation three times greater when news is “pushed”

When you look at all of these factors together, you see the challenge of achieving easy access to mobile. It also means only using a responsive approach to the intranet simply won’t work. 

The Digital Workplace Inside the One Front Door Intranet App

An effective employee app won’t exist separately from your digital workplace. Rather, it needs to become the front door into it. It will be a company’s main communication hub, available on both private and company devices. It will be mobile-first, but also available on desktops. Its role as a front door makes it the first thing employees see in the morning and the main entryway to every service available in the digital workplace.

A truly effective stack will include several individual best-of-breed solutions, ready-made for targeted use cases and all available via single sign-on, where login authentication is done automatically. Using an employee app as a communication hub and front door to the intranet offers an opening to communication-related use cases, some knowledge-based ones and some employee-related processes — with KPI communications as an example.

Figure 4. Mobile and desktop views of a communications hub and front-door intranet.
Figure 4. Mobile and desktop views of a communications hub and front-door intranet.

Mobile and desktop views of a communications hub and front-door intranet

Mobile and desktop don’t have to look the same. In the example above, we see links to SharePoint, Teams and Yammer aren’t visible on mobile, where they aren’t needed. But they are available on the desktop version, which acts like an entry door through which a user can jump to Yammer or Teams or wherever they want to go.

This best-of-breed approach provides a much better user experience than any single platform ever could. It’s also compatible with a selective BYOD strategy. Organizations can thereby pick and choose which individual components of the digital workplace to make available for personal devices. Finally, it creates unmatched flexibility in the mid- and long-term where companies can quickly add new tools or exchange technology in order to meet the changing needs of today’s fast-paced business environment.