How Mobile Apps are Changing the Workplace

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We carry small, powerful computers in our pockets, and it has altered the way we do almost everything. Cell phones and other mobile tech affect the way we shop, communicate, spend our free time and so many other behaviors.

A survey recently revealed 66 percent of Americans check their cell phones more than 160 times a day. Much of that time, they’re using mobile apps, and employers are taking notice. Sometimes apps streamline workflows and improve engagement. Other times they do the opposite. Mobile app use for play and productivity isn’t going anywhere, so let’s look at how it’s impacting the workplace.

Apps for Workplace Communication

The pandemic forced many businesses to find ways to effectively communicate outside the office. Freelancers and field staff members had been using apps to stay in touch for years, but suddenly shut in workers across the nation needed remote work technology for their home office.

It’s been a long time since people used phones just for making calls. Now a huge percentage of work communication takes place through mobile apps for the following:

Teleconferencing – Last March, Zoom’s users went from 10 million to more than 200 million. Businesses use Zoom because up to 49 users can be on-screen at the same time, and video meetings can support up to 1,000 viewers from anywhere on the planet. Some teams also teleconferenced in virtual reality using apps like Spatial.

Instant Messaging – Employees use apps like Microsoft Teams and Slack to chat by topic or group and share files for collaboration.

Pros and Cons of Using Apps for Workplace Communication

Effective communication allows remote or on-location staff members to collaborate from wherever they set up their office. Apps like the ones listed above make it easy to share files and ideas.

Participants can share communication with everyone who has an active role. Plus, messaging apps can encourage collaboration from colleagues who might not get a chance to speak up in person.

There are also drawbacks. Larger groups might have a harder time staying focused while video conferencing. Being able to work anytime, from anywhere can make it harder to have a work-life balance. Some people find it difficult to disconnect from the constant notifications.

Also, some workers don’t hold themselves to the same standards for electronic communication as they do for in-person meetings and this can create miscommunications and misunderstandings. Employers using apps for communication can minimize problems by having clear guidelines for when and how teams use them.

Mobile Recruiting

Many Millennials and Generation Z workers are more comfortable with technology than with pen and paper. The majority prefer finding and applying for job openings on their phones. Surprisingly, mobile usage peaks among Generation X users, with 55 percent of users between 35 and 44 years old respondents in one survey saying they prefer using their phone to apply for jobs over desktop or pen and paper methods.

That means it isn’t just entry-level workers who respond to mobile recruiting. Qualified, experienced candidates also submit applications through mobile recruiting apps.

Apps for Payroll Processing

Now they’re using apps to accomplish payroll tasks on their cell phones. Instead of being stuck behind the office laptop or desktop, they can pay workers, access payroll information, enter earnings and other related tasks. Apps for payroll processing help bosses and employees like them too, because they have instant access to information they used to have to find on a pay stub.

Employee Tracking Apps

Giving employees the ability to “work anywhere” doesn’t always work. It sounds like a dream to be able to work from the couch or the beach, but the problem is, none of those places were designed for nine to five productivity. The beach and the living room aren’t for working, they’re for relaxation and recreation.

Employers who don’t want to pay workers to build sandcastles or binge-watch their favorite series are turning to mobile employee tracking apps. Geofencing apps use GPS to track individual workers’ physical locations. Time tracking apps log hours spent on tasks and jobs, and many integrate with apps like Google Docs, WordPress, Slack, Quickbooks or other programs your staff members may be already using.

Tracking apps can cut down on late starts and early finishes, extended breaks and other time theft activities. They keep the honest people honest – if employees know they’re being monitored, they’re less likely to waste company time. However, they can also seem intrusive, like an invasion of privacy or an attitude of distrust.

What These Changes Mean for Employers

The technology your company uses affects how you’re perceived by current employees and future hires. There’s competition across industries to secure top talent, some of whom live on their mobile devices. Savvy employers offer tools that encourage engagement and allow employees to be their very best.

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