The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work in unexpected ways. Globally, workers have had to adapt to working remotely while maintaining efficient communication, productivity and rapport with colleagues and clients. This comes with new challenges for workplace app developers, as they have to optimize features for a workforce that is more dependent on technology than ever before.
I would like to share a few thoughts on how apps have been helping the workplace since the coronavirus pandemic and what to expect in the future post this is over(hopefully soon).
How has COVID-19 pandemic affected the office work?
How a workplace has been affected by COVID-19 mostly depends on the type of industry and local regulations. However, office based workers have faced similar challenges around the world. While many people still have no option but to work from home; the number of people returning back to offices is increasing but with certain restrictions.
According to Economic Times, “When employees do start to return to the office – and those dates keep getting pushed further and further back for many organizations – some companies plan to implement rotating schedules to reduce the number of people in a given space.” This also makes it harder to maintain company culture and support employee communities.
Workplace apps can be used to facilitate the practical side of an employee’s tasks and ensure that their personal needs are met. For example, it is very important for new employees to feel welcomed into their new roles despite the difficult task of online on-boarding. These unprecedented scenarios have made communication and productivity apps essential to a workforce’s operations.
Here are four ways in which companies are successfully operating throughout the pandemic with workplace apps.
Teleconferencing has become a critical way for many workers to host meetings, leading to several opportunities for workplace apps to innovate. Here are two examples of trending teleconferencing apps and how their services have changed since the global pandemic.
Spatial is an app that enables colleagues to meet using virtual reality or augmented reality. Anand Agarawala, Chief Executive Officer at Spatial, has said that coronavirus concerns led to a 400% increase in requests for Spatial licenses and a 50% increase in usage.
Zoom’s number of daily users spiked to 200 million in March – up from 10 million in December 2019. Zoom became increasingly popular this year as users looked for a communications tool that was free, easy to use and immediately accessible to new users. Zoom enables several users to join the same call, with up to 49 on-screen videos and global video meetings with up to 1,000 participants.
2. Communication platforms for instant messaging
In addition to video calls and virtual meetings employees need to have an easy to use communication platform that can be used throughout the work day. This is critical to ensuring employees have everything they need to work efficiently and cooperate with their teams even when they are working from home.
Microsoft Teams includes features such as workplace chat, file storage, video meetings and app integrations. This year, Microsoft Teams gained more than 12 million daily users in one week – achieving a 37.5 percent increase due to more people working from home. When talking about how coronavirus has affected the way we work, Microsoft’s Chief Executive, Satya Nadella, describes it as going through ”two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months”.
Slack is a communication platform with chat rooms that can be managed by topic, private groups and direct messaging between users. As workplaces around the world have become entirely remote, communication platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams have been an integral part of daily operations. (Check my review on Slack on https://www.itrainconsultants.com/whats-slack-app-like-everything-you-need-to-know-before-you-get-started/)
Slack has also developed Slack Connect, a platform change for its communications app with the aim of replacing work emails. This allows up to 20 companies to work seamlessly together. Slack’s Chief Product Officer Tamar Yehoshua explained that “The vision for Slack has always been to build Slack Connect so that the benefits you get for channel-based communication within your own organization, you’ll get when communicating with everyone.” Tamar adds that “we wanted to build a model that addresses the limitations of email.”
In 2020, companies need ways to schedule virtual meetings, coordinate workloads, organise tasks, and streamline collaborations with project management tools. Apps that offer this type of service include Asana and Basecamp.
Asana enables users to build production plans and coordinate tasks. The company also has integrations for workplace apps such as Microsoft Teams, Adobe Creative Cloud and Slack. Asana offered free licences for its software to charities working to help slow the spread of coronavirus. This was due to the rise in home working among charities.
Basecamp is a project management and internal communication company that has been run remotely for the last 20 years. Features include message boards, lists, schedules, group chats and automatic check-ins. Users can also integrate third-party tools such as time trackers.
The pandemic has also forced a change in the development of workplace apps. For example, many companies with this type of app are developing new features that focus on health and safety measures. For example, a workplace app that can be used to book meeting rooms may now be able to help workers keep to COVID-19 restrictions.
Freespace enable users to calculate an occupancy plan based on an office’s furniture layout. Freespace can also be used to signal when areas are blocked off and regularly update floorplans. This allows companies to quickly adapt to new restrictions and ensure that employees are abiding by safety guidelines.
iotspot is another example of an office space app with social distancing tools. Iotspot allows users to create a digital office space with reduced desk capacity. Employees can then book their spot from home.
Google released a tool that shows users if they are abiding by social distancing measures called Sodar. This is a tool that overlays guidelines onto real world environments using augmented reality.
The coronavirus pandemic has started a debate as to whether our office culture is still necessary.
Jes Staley, CEO of Barclays, says “The notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past.”
Whether this is true or not, workplace apps will continue to find new ways to optimize workflows and make it easier for people to work remotely and safer to work within the same space as others.
Sources : economictimes, Forbes India, Google
Author: Vishal Punetha
Corporate Training Consultant
I Train Consultants India Pvt. Ltd.
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