How to make the office work like a smartphone

Today, with the touch of a button or voice command, we can use a smartphone or tablet app to check weather forecasts and bank balances, book dinner reservations, or shop for food online.

Mobile devices make it easier and quicker to plan tasks and tick off items on our to-do lists. So how can businesses replicate the smartphone experience in the office environment – offering task resolution in a familiar tap or swipe of a screen? If you’re reading this on your smartphone, the answer lies in your hand.

Enable greater efficiency

Smartphone-style apps have the potential to revolutionise how work-related tasks are accomplished, either fully automating them or cutting out unnecessary steps to free up employee time for more meaningful work. Emerging office-based apps fulfil the function of the workplace assistant. Employees already have embraced this way of working, but businesses have been slow to catch on.

>See also: Technology is ready to define the future of the workplace

Which lengthy processes can be approached more efficiently? Can apps help to streamline day-to-day administrative tasks and improve productivity? After asking these questions, organisations must consider how technology can integrate office equipment with the app world to drive efficiencies for employees and the broader business.

The print industry, for one, has recognised the opportunity that the app world provides. Businesses in this sector are beginning to shift their focus from replacing paper-based processes with digital solutions, to using apps to offer new ways to print more intelligently and efficiently.

Take for example all the steps required to scan a document: place the document onto a machine to scan manually, input your email address so you can send it, save the file in the correct folder and then upload it to a cloud storage service if you wish to access it later.

With the integration of personalised business applications – such as those offered through Xerox’s Personalised Application Builder programme – this simple, yet time-consuming, task can be streamlined and be achieved with just a few swipes on a screen.

>See also: Are workers ready for the workplace of the future?

We’ve already seen 300,000 apps installed on Xerox devices alone – from Xtandit’s ‘Quiver Secure Scan’ that enables customers to scan their documents securely, to Foxway’s ‘Productivity Packs’, which streamlines time-consuming office, education, finance and healthcare processes – and this number is growing by the day.

Provide more flexibility

Apps also offer greater flexibility by enabling employees to access information at any time, from anywhere, and on any device. Gone are the days when you have to wait until you return to the office from business travel to catch up on certain tasks. Apps make work accessible, enabling employees to log in from home or while travelling.

A recent report from IDC indicates that businesses are recognising the need for mobility. The report predicts that business leaders will continue to invest heavily in mobile hardware, software and services to drive operational efficiencies and savings. IDC projects mobility revenues to reach $224.8 billion in 2017. In this climate, organisations that do not have business mobility at the heart of their strategy, risk falling behind.

Re-imagining the way we work

How can organisations begin to provide a more mobile work environment? Here a few steps that can get you moving in the right direction.

>See also: Reimagining the workplace: how the office is changing

Remember to set clear, practical objectives; changing any experience is not achievable overnight and is often a gradual change — one which becomes easier once the first step is in place.

Take time to identify daily, repetitive tasks that slow the flow of work. Once you start to examine the process, you may be surprised at the number of simple tweaks that could dramatically streamline business workflows. Set targets, make your case, and change user behaviours over time.

With a new wave of tech savvy employees in the workforce, it’s never been more important for businesses to be adaptable. The sooner your business is ready to embrace the world of apps, the sooner your employees will be able to focus their time and effort on what really matters – delivering high-quality work and satisfying customers.


Sourced by Andrew Morrison, managing director, Xerox UK and Ireland


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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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