How Capital One’s Workplace App Helps Employees Engage with Real Estate

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Natalie Grasso Cockrell
Natalie Grasso Cockrell
Natalie is a Workplace Consultant at Herman Miller and the former Editor of Work Design Magazine. She’s currently based in Pittsburgh.
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Last year, Capital One teamed up with Modo Labs to deploy an associate-facing mobile workplace app. The app simplifies and consolidates a whole range of real estate services for employees, from finding a conference room to submitting a work order for a burned out light bulb, and allows associates to engage with the company’s real estate in a more meaningful way.

We reached out to Samantha Fisher, the director of workplace experience for Capital One, to find out more.

What was it that initiated the development of the app?

I think the app really spawned from [asking], “How do we help our associates engage with real estate in a way that’s meaningful to them, and that feels natural, and that emulates the way that they engage other services in their daily life?”

[Previously], it was a bunch of disparate systems to engage real estate. In addition, as an organization, [we’re] moving to digital formats, and leveraging the way people engage with their life today which is mostly around mobile devices. We’re focused on being a technology company that offers financial services. We asked ourselves, how do we leverage this approach from a real estate perspective?

An idea that continually rose to the top was, “What about an app?” We had three or four suppliers come in and present options to us. They ranged everywhere from off the shelf products to a custom design solution. We focused on potential partners that were already delivering an experience to an audience similar to the one we wanted to reach — Modo Labs was already providing an app for some of the top universities in the U.S. — and focused on user experience, a key requirement for us.

Give us a little bit of insight into what the app does.

The app is intended to help our associates be more productive in how they navigate and engage with their physical workspace. To enable that, we use geolocation services, so you only get info relevant to your location. If I’m in our headquarters building in McLean VA, it only gives me info that’s relevant to our McLean location. Our app is delivering some key functionality that is important to our associates. The information is arranged as modules within the main app and include “What’s Here”, “Find It”, “Eats”, “Transit”, and “Fix It” to name a few. Again, the information delivered to our associates via these modules is location specific so it is an incredibly useful tool for helping our associate’s plan and decision their days.

The “What’s Here” module tells our associates what amenities are available at their location, where to park, and things like specialty information about fitness centers. It’s not immersive and it’s not touch enabled, it’s just a quick overview.

The app is intended to help our associates be more productive in how they navigate and engage with their physical workspace.

“Find It”, a map module, is essentially a floor plan that we have converted into a map. If you’re in the building and you’re looking for a conference room, this module presents that information in a touch-responsive form, so you can navigate to see where conference rooms are, coffee spots, bathrooms, and any other amenities on that floor.

Our “Eats” module is all about the food and beverage spots: what are the available places to eat and/or drink.

“Fix It” was actually a module we collaborated with our partner on to meet our business needs. It enables our associates to submit work orders for things within their facility that are broken or not working — too hot, too cold, a chair is broken. These are requests that historically our associates would have had to go to their laptop/desktop to submit, but with Fix It, it makes it easy to submit the request while on the go. It also supports the upload of pictures — something our facilities team really likes in pin-pointing the issue.

Because we purchased an existing solution, there is a lot of native capability as well as the ability for us to “build” capability in the app with our partner. A nice side benefit is that we can decide what to deploy, when to deploy, and how to deploy. It creates a pipeline of continued new functionality releases.

Is it just for campus locations?

No, we provide this same experience for all of our major people centers — be them campus or single tower buildings. In single tower locations, like New York or San Francisco, where we are multi-tenant, we only deliver information for the floors that we occupy.

Let’s say I’m going down to your McLean campus, can I find a place to work through the app?

We don’t use hot desking at any of our locations, so while you couldn’t find a specific desk through the app, you could find a conference room for your meeting or other spaces where you can “touch down” for the day, like a coffee bar. Additionally, we are working on an improvement for the Find It module–data driven maps can help us capture real-time vacancy for our non-reservable spaces and convert that data into useable information for our associates. That feature will be live in our 2.0 version.

Can I find a person if I’m looking for someone?

That type of functionality comes when you add authentication — a functionality that we don’t have yet. It is part of our 2016 roadmap and version 2.0 release where we will have active directory connections. This functionality will enable our associates to search for other associates in our AD and see their assigned location. From there they can look up the location on a floor map and navigate their way to the assigned office/desk location.

How long has it been up?

We launched the Apple version in September 2014 and we launched the Android and Universal Apple version in December 2014. Folks really love it. We had huge waves of adoption during our initial launch schedules — due in part to a stellar marketing and communication campaign.

We continue to review metrics like page dwell times, bounce, and abandonment rates to understand what are the most important features/modules to our associates. Hands down the “Eats”. “Transit” and “Find It” modules continue to be the best performing for us.

What percentage of population is using it?

This metric is difficult to calculate since we don’t have the app tied to people—and some of our associates don’t have corporate devices. But we estimate utilization about 20 percent of our population is using it regularly based on the number of downloads, the number of corporate devices, and the number of page views.

Is it growing over time?

When we launched we did a fairly sizable marketing campaign around it so that we could get people to adopt and use it. We had about 15,000 downloads, and 5,000 people on average using it daily. We are now over 21,000 downloads and since January 2016, 18,000 active sessions, over 100,00 page views, and a four minute dwell time in each session. The bounce rate is also really low, around 10 percent.

As we work to develop features and functionality for 2.0, we have seen a bit of decline in downloads but expect that to tick back up with some improvement capability.

You said you were looking for a way to get people to engage more with the real estate. What has your experience there been? Do people have a better understanding of the facilities? Do you find that there’s more interaction with real estate?

Our services run the gamut, everything from designing and building a new building to changing a light bulb. The way we were engaging associates was through an internet portal that essentially outlines all of our services; “Here are the 25 services that we offer.” It wasn’t integrated, it wasn’t simple, and our associates didn’t know who or how to engage. In many cases, there were a lot of folks who didn’t understand all of the services we offer and how we can help them. It has really simplified that for them.

Additionally, we have a fairly large traveling population for our people centers across the country. We’ve really tried to simplify the experience and consolidate information for our associates and deliver it in a way that really meets their needs.

It has enhanced the overall perception of real estate and the associates can see that we’re forward thinking in solving for what matters to them. Real Estate is slow moving; construction doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not like technology, where you can develop a new app overnight. By developing and deploying an app, we have [shown] our associates that we’re a different type of Real Estate organization. It’s addressing what our associates need immediately and is propelling our organization forward, high-lighting our ability to be flexible and nimble .

I would imagine millennials are using this a lot more than boomers? Can you extract that data?

We can’t right now because it’s tied to your location, not you as a person. The app doesn’t know that I’m Samantha Fisher. That’s coming in round two, along with a new and enhanced user experience.

What are the biggest benefits you’ve seen since deploying it?

For the real estate organization, it’s really been our ability to show an integrated solution. We have all of these services where the app has helped us streamline those processes, and we’ve found great technology partners that have helped us deliver these services in a great, new way. For the associate side, we’re helping to solve a very complex, sometimes ambiguous experience — submitting a service request, for example — so that they can focus on their work.

From the corporate side, do you find that you’re able to attract staff? Do you see increases in productivity?

We don’t have any data saying that our app is attracting talent, but in general, Capital One is trying to attract that software engineer, developer-type talent and a company with an internal facing associate app that creates a seamless UX for engaging real estate services is pretty cool. It has also created a level of visibility in the organization we didn’t have before — again, we were the concrete and bricks people, but now we reach all of our associates. That is a compelling story for other Capital One app developers that want to reach the same population.

The app also gives us a common language of communication enabling real estate to speak that language with our clients and have them feel like they are an integral part of their workplace design.

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