2021 Trends: The Mobile Workplace

Modo shares how the mobile workplace of the future will be a digital workplace experience, unified and powered by mobile.

mobile workplace

It is an open question whether we run our mobile phones or they run us.

Millions – maybe even billions – of us have set our lives to respond to cues and prompts and reminders that come from our mobile devices. Calendar reminders, alarms, weather alerts, fitness trackers, even our social media accounts ping us when we need to do or be aware of something.

Naturally, predictably, even inevitably, our careers and places of work are being woven in with our existing mobile-first lives. The power of mobile is increasingly being used to deliver the experience of the digital workplace to what has recently become a distributed workplace of remote, in-office and hybrid employees.

The rise and evolution of the mobile workplace has been a long time coming, and in the COVID-era it is now moving at warp speed.

How It’s Working

We saw the work experience fuse with mobile life, most clearly and most recently, visible as employers across the world adapted to COVID-19. A suddenly distributed, remote workforce had to remain connected and cohesive, even productive under implausible realities.

Almost overnight, we helped companies large, small and in between standup apps that could deliver important health, safety and work-related information directly to employees wherever they were. Everyone needed workplace apps that could allow the most urgent messages to be sent with alerts, push notifications and text messages and serve as a one-stop repository for company policies, notices or trusted, verified outside information. At the same time, these company apps afforded more than connectivity, as companies were using them to reinforce community and deliver support services too.

The next step was using those apps to create processes and procedures for a safe return to places of work – creating confidence in the safety of returning to office life. Health checks and screenings, reserving safe workspaces or to pick up a coffee in a common eating area, staggered staff scheduling and designated safe transportation all went mobile, in most cases built right into the company app. Some companies were also using their apps to assist in contract tracing. It’s really difficult to imagine it could have been done any other way.

Once safely at work, the app transforms the workplace into a digital workplace experience. Again, this centered mostly on dealing with COVID, as employers used their apps to empower employees to schedule workspaces, request on demand sanitizing or to alert them when floors, elevators or common areas were crowded.

Where It’s Going

With a vaccine in place and a redefined normal within reach, the concept of the workplace app that enables remote and return to work is shifting. The question is becoming – How do we create an in-office experience employees are eager to come back to and allow for the flexibility of distributed working?

Our customers are exploring how their mobile presence can be leveraged to reimagine the workplace. For example, how can they make it effortless for employees to not just reserve a conference room but to simultaneously book a room and seamlessly schedule a hybrid meeting, in-person and virtual, regardless of where people are.

A key question will be – How can apps help institutions and enterprises shift the idea from work being a place to work to being an experience that is immersive, engaging, productive, efficient and accessible anywhere and anytime?

Apps are ready built to just that and more as companies have laid the foundation with remote workflows and the refined digital employee experience. That existing infrastructure will be enhanced, features will be added and integrated to improve both wellbeing and work performance. The power to nudge, for example, is largely unexplored in the workplace, but it’s coming.

Judging from the success many commercial apps have enjoyed, nudging — suggesting behavior at the right time — can have a profound impact. Exercise apps are a prime example. At work, those app nudges can influence social distancing or nudge an employee to reserve in-office time to join other co-workers on the same project and spark collaboration.

The Unified Experience of Culture

As time passes the concept of work will become detached from being a physical place and fostering corporate culture will become increasingly important. The workplace experience will rely on the ever-present mobile experience to deepen the employee/employer relationship. Employers will seek apps that create actual, shared engagement regardless of where someone is physically. App features will be designed to make sure no employee feels like they’re stuck, toiling alone in their basements or bedroom offices, disconnected and disregarded.

Work apps will prioritize the ability to share, unscripted and loosely managed life and work experiences such as family photos, virtual events, holiday activities, shared and conversational event watching. As work focused as they may be, business apps will also feel like the best parts of those social media platforms we can’t seem to turn off.

In our mobile-first world employees expect to manage their work-life in the same streamlined fashion they manage daily life. No one wants to use one app to check their bank balance and another to send money to a friend. You expect to send money directly from your banking app. Accordingly, no employee wants one app to schedule a workspace and another to take a wellness screening.

Despite what we think we know what the workplace experience of the future will be, there’s far more that we don’t and will continue to grasp at what might be. In truth, we have little idea. To be resilient and adapt to circumstances we must be flexible.

We need to keep asking questions, collecting data and employee feedback and empower leaders to quickly evolve their apps and create entirely new workplace experiences. The ability to see a need and meet it instantly will be the defining dynamic of the distributed workplace experience.

The trend is the Mobile workplace, it won’t really matter if you’re employees are working in-office or remotely. The workplace experience will be flexible and digitally seamless, powered by mobile.

This article was written in partnership with Modo Labs. 

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