People

A physical social network: how workplace apps will reshape the office

How can workplace apps create a more personal user experience? What benefits do they bring for organisations and individuals? A new WORKTECH Academy report looks at how apps can change connectivity and collaboration

In today’s digital age there is seemingly an app for everything, from dating to food delivery. The corporate office has been relatively slow to see the potential of an app for employees, but a new WORKTECH Academy report, The App-Centric Workplace, suggests all that is about to change.

According to the report author Philip Ross, founder and CEO of Ungroup and chairman of WORKTECH Academy, apps are set to be integrated into the corporate workplace at a growing rate, creating a more personalised employee experience.

Adding people dimension

Gone are the days spent pacing around level 5 for hours looking for a meeting room. Already workplace apps provide basic information about the office such as floor plans, way finding, room booking and desk reservation.

Now they are starting to collide with social networks to add a ‘people dimension’: knowing who is in and where people are, what specialist expertise is available and how to connect with like-minded colleagues is part of a new app-driven dimension that encourages a greater sense of community and fosters innovation.

Changing the culture

The App-centric Workplace approach can create a physical social network by engineering unplanned encounters, which is a key ingredient in future high performing workplaces. Apps can change the culture of a workspace by connecting individuals to each other, to local services and to their environment.

The report identifies ‘measuring collision coefficient’ and ‘accelerating serendipity’ as two outcomes sought by companies where human capital is the prominent asset. It also identifies pioneers in the field such as Boston Consulting Group (BCG) at Hudsons Yard, New York, which offers a ‘who’s in’ feature to create desired collisions with people inside the building.

And it isn’t just just employees who can benefit from a workplace app. Clients can personalise their experience too. If a client is visiting the building, they can be sent a boarding pass through a downloaded app on their smart phone. This boarding pass welcomes an individual to the building, permits entry and shows the agenda for the day.

The report concludes that eventually the App-Centric Workplace will challenge the fixed organisational hierarchies of today where people are employed for specific roles. Apps will complement the fluid ‘gig economy’ by using people who are already in the building rather than outsourcing skills.

The App-Centric Workplace is an insight report from WORKTECH Academy, authored by Philip Ross. Check out our INNOVATION Zone for the full report here.