Brexit triggers and travel bans: the role of employee communication apps

One of the largest obstacles employers face now, post-Brexit, is keeping their workforces informed and reassured during the coming days and months as everyone adjusts to the changes that lie ahead.

Clear and timely communication in times of internal and external upheaval is vital as illustrated earlier this year when Tim Cook, Apple CEO addressed his employees in an email following the US travel ban in which he outlined how HR, Legal and security teams would be assisting staff. He also took the opportunity to reinforce his corporate culture.

The content that reinforced corporate culture delivered by Cook and other corporate leaders including those at Ford, Google, Facebook, Nike, Coca-Cola, Morgan Stanley was critical.

But in times of crisis, it isn’t just the communicators who take centre stage but also the IT departments which have an important role to play. They need to ensure that the right technology is in place so that information can reach those that need it.

>See also: How digital technology is transforming internal communication

Take for example non-desk workers who are a major part of the global workforce doing jobs in industries such as retail, manufacturing, hospitality and transport. They don’t work in an office, often don’t have access to a computer or corporate email address and happen to be the sector of the workforce most impacted by recent events.

These employees are the hardest to reach, and because they work on the front-line, they are ones most in need of direction. “We are as much in the dark as everybody else,” said a border protection official at one of the largest US airports in the wake of the travel ban according to Reuters.

Enterprise mobile apps offer a simple, efficient, secure and in some cases a tailor-made solution with Gartner predicting that by the end of 2017, market demand will grow at least five times faster than the capacity of internal IT organisations to deliver them.

This demand is creating a new generation of high-growth companies such as Slack, FinalCAD, Front Desk, Parsable, Convoy offering a range of services with Beekeeper focussing specifically on reaching non-desk workers and improving inter-company communication.

So how would an enterprise communication mobile app help in times of change?

Mobile first real-time communication

Instant messaging capabilities enable every employee to receive company-wide, group or one-to-one announcements regardless of role or location via their mobile.

In the case of sudden and developing events the process of updating staff can begin immediately even if this is just to say that the situation is being dealt with and more information will follow. While, as details become available advice and direction can be targeted at those who need them, wherever they are.

Connect employees without email addresses

The need to reach non-desk employees during times of crisis or uncertainty goes without saying but what about everyday operations? Onboarding non-desk employees has always been a challenge, especially when they don’t have corporate email accounts.

>See also: Communication key to allaying employee concerns about automation

The option to scan a QR code, which immediately logs them into their account is one way to bypass the need for logins and passwords during the signup process, therefore removing the barrier to communication with one of the largest segments of the work force.

Share critical documents instantly

With cloud technology, it’s never been easier to share files via mobile technology with employees outside of the office. In rapidly developing scenarios this means travel, safety or emergency advice documents can be updated as necessary and then made instantly accessible.

Rather, than non-desk staff who are caught up in a potentially stressful and confusing situation having to wait until they can check a notice board, phone-in for advice or speak to someone face to face.

Send out prepared material at the press of a button

In examples where events like the triggering of Article 50 are known about in advance then there is time to prepare Q&A sheets and strategy updates, so they are ready to publish at the right moment.

In the rare event a mobile network fails, employees can download necessary troubleshooting documents to their phone, so they always know what the next step is.

Central activity streams

Uncertainty in the workplace threatens to ruin the best corporate cultures – so the ability for CEO’s to speak directly to every employee in all corners of the business is hugely important and efficient.

>See also: 3 steps to building workplace wellbeing with employee engagement

Mobile enterprise communication apps which offer central activity streams where text, video or images can be posted means leaders can interact in real-time with workers. Crucially, the information flow is two-way with staff being able to generate content, comments, and questions.

Keeping the dialogue going with chatbots

Going forward it is important to keep communication channels open and make it easy for employees to give input and feedback. Chatbots take employee surveys to the next level and are an important integrated feature when considering an enterprise mobile app.

They give administrators a tool that makes questionnaires easier to deploy while increasing response rates and giving companies better data to analyse.

Assessing if it’s working

White label solutions which match corporate identity and branding, with automated workflows and scheduling to fully support operational strategies and communication are another benefit of tailor-made solutions.

Real-time measurement improves communication efficiency, gives insight and calculates impact, allowing for continuous optimisation and enabling companies to monitor if their approach is working.

The product is software

No matter how innovative new ways of engaging employees are, the key principle is that software has become the product. It needs to be complex in nature, though simple for users.

If it fulfils the requirement of feeling personal, provides content-first user experience, is deliverable across all devices, is data rich and easily integrated then it can be the glue that holds everything together.

>See also: Oxfam’s communication transformation

This came out as a key point at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, during the keynote “The Digital Economy” with John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group and AT&T Services.

In the case of non-desk workers this means creating an employee communication hub where the app can be integrated with hundreds of tools and extended further with shift management, payroll, intranets or HR systems.


GP Bullhound said people that are performing “physical or deskless work daily” are coming to the forefront in the enterprise mobility shift. It also argued that today’s staff “many of whom are now tech-savvy millennials – demand access to critical business information within a moment’s notice, whether they are in the office or not.”

Interestingly, GP Bullhound also highlighted in its Enterprise Software: Revolutionising the Modern Workplace November 2016 report, that “The software market is no longer confined to a few dominating vendors and finally willing to embrace the best products- even from previously unknown software providers”.

So, whether the chosen route is to create an app in-house, pick one off the peg or opt for a made to measure service, there is no doubt that how people want and need to communicate at work is changing making mobile technology a must not a maybe.


Sourced by Cristian Grossmann, CEO and co-founder Beekeeper

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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