Augmented reality as a game changer for employee experience?

Augmented reality as a game changer for employee experience?

Augmented Reality (AR) is an emerging trend, but what are the applicable uses of AR in employee experience? Here are three examples of how to utilize AR – and tips on how to get started.

It’s 7 AM. You get out of the taxi at an airport. After paying the fare, you grab your smartphone and load up the airport’s AR app. You plot in your flight number and the app instantly gives you the best route to your gate. On your way to the gate a message pops up: ‘Have you had breakfast yet?’. You press no and the app takes you on a small detour to the nearest airport bakery, where they serve hot coffee and freshly made croissants. Once at the gate, the app automatically registers your presence and readies you for boarding.

Gatwick augmented reality
No more running around – looking for that elusive gate to your connecting flight (Photo: Gatwick Airport)

No, it’s not a snippet from the next Blade Runner movie. If you have travelled through Gatwick Airport recently, you might recognize parts of it.

Last year, the airport launched a new AR and Info application. Supported by 2,000 AR beacons throughout the airport, the application provides:

  • wayfinding,
  • personalized, real-time flight updates,
  • gate information, and
  • check-in and security queue times straight to the user’s smartphone.

The aim of the app is of course, to allow travelers a smoother experience when navigating the airport.

A trend – but here to stay

Augmented Reality is becoming one of those emerging trends that is skyrocketing and as far as we can tell, here to stay. In 2020, there will be 1 billion active AR users. When asked, 64% of consumers believe that AR will be beneficial for their work place (Newsgenapps.com). With the recent releases of AR developer kits by Google and Apple, the big players have finally entered the playing field, so considering the amount of focus there is on this new immersive technology, it is time to connect it to your organization!

ar_vr_stats
Market predictions for immersive technology (Source: New Gen Apps)

3 ways AR can improve your employee experience

What are the applicable uses of AR in employee experience? There are many different ways new technology, including AR, can drive your organization forward internally and give your employees a better work experience. But since it’s only an article and not a book you are reading – I’ve limited it to three examples of how I think it could be utilized.

1. Enhance your internal communication with AR

Endless ‘talking head’ videos, articles on the intranet, e-mails sent out to everyone. The sheer amount of internal information being directed at the employees can clutter the good intentions of internal communicators. AR is not the sole solution to that problem and using AR in corporate communication is a two-edged sword. Be wary not to be swept up by technological hype and to use it just because you can. That being said, it can help you focus your communication efforts.

An idea could be to turn your strategy posters into an animated story, displaying complex strategy and financial topics in an engaging and understandable way. As an example, imagine holding a screen over an ordinary printed poster or map. Augmented reality could enhance it with 3D visuals indicating a range of data, allowing the user to ‘walk around’ the area and absorb a greater depth of understanding.

Why AR?

There is a theory called Predictive Coding (glass.ac.uk), that means actively trying to predict what inputs are ahead, rather than passively processing information as it arrives – something we all automatically do. So for example, if you show a printed poster about a new strategy to an employee, their brains try to fill in the gaps – predicting what the poster does not tell about the strategy.

  1. “Effectively, our brains construct an incredibly complex jigsaw puzzle using any pieces it can get access to. These are provided by the context in which we see them, our memories and our other senses.” – Dr Fraser Smith, Glasgow University

Using AR, we can give the brain much more to work with and create a better image of the communication for the recipient. The interesting thing here, is to control the sequence and tempo of the visuals, or inputs – thereby heightening curiosity and engagement in unfolding the narrative.

In conclusion

AR can be a powerful communication tool. In a more traditional sense, it can increase engagement and curiosity. But be sure to ask the question “does this add value for our audience?”. It is a good idea to plan ahead and include AR in the framework of the communication and not as an afterthought.

2. Navigate the physical workplace with AR

A tool that can help employees find their way around the office, production facility or off-site work spaces, is something many have dreamed about. We all know the frustration when you can’t find that meeting room, and we have seen the confused look on the face of a new employee when they’re looking for their station.It is certainly not an easy task to create AR-based wayfinding, but the benefits should be easy to spot and emphasize – I’ve done a little math.There isn’t a lot of research done on how much time is lost finding your way around your work place, but I did find a study that says office workers spend up to 15 minutes a day looking for a place to collaborate (Goaskcody.com).

Let’s be conservative and make a calculation where a business with 5,000 employees can save 1 minute a day with a wayfinder app.5,000 x 261 (the average number of work days in a year) = 1,305,000 minutes.

According to Google, the average hourly wage in the US is around 23 US dollars, so that’s a staggering 500,250 US dollars per year in regained down-time, just by cutting down on finding your way around the organization by 1 measly minute. How is that for a cost-saver. But numbers aside, creating a less frustrating work environment increases the employee experience and makes happier employees!

When the app is developed, why stop at wayfinding – you could potentially integrate on-boarding progression, guest access, security zones, entry-level restrictions and much more.

Why AR?

Augmented Reality wayfinding minimizes confusion, compared to common digital maps (vie journal.springeropen.com). It also, and I quote: “significantly reduces the time and cognition workload of human wayfinding behaviors”.

In conclusion

AR-based wayfinding technology is not off-the-shelf just yet and will take some work to effectuate. But as people become more confident in using AR in their everyday lives, being on the forefront and integrating it into business-as-usual, could have huge employee benefits and be a time-saving tool in the long run.

3. Safety learning and on-site information

When it comes to safety, using a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach towards your employees could enhance the adoption rate, making your organization safer – and as we always say: Safety first! One of the most important considerations for safety training is that it is engaging and memorable. Making sure your employees remember and understand what has been trained is crucial. AR can improve safety procedures and on-site information, from delivery-quality training to practical, on-the-spot use, to prevent workplace incidents and accidents. Imagine giving workers on the job the power to see manuals, instructions, and tips as they pass a device over equipment, work sites, hazardous materials, etc.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I learn” – Benjamin Franklin

Why AR?

In a recent neuroscience experiment commissioned by the media agency Mindshare, it was found that augmented reality experiences elicit significant attention, emotional and memory-encoding spikes in users’ brains, compared to traditional video and interactive online experiences (zapper.com)

This is what we are looking for, the emotional connection to learning. Augmented reality is, simply put, the next step on the evolutionary learning ladder. Employees experience a constant bombardment of inputs in the modern job of today, which is why it is imperative to create something that sticks.

In conclusion

Using AR in safety training is no easy feat, and will require hard work and a dedicated buy-in from management. But many organizations have work environments and situations where ignorance or misunderstandings can, in the worst case, be fatal. So, creating exciting and understandable safety programs by using AR is definitely worth considering!

Imagine an app that always provides your employees with up-to-date information on complex safety and on-site procedures (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Create an AR strategy for your organization

The propagation of technology often dictates how good your organization is at adopting new digital work tools. If the technology or tool is well integrated in society in general – it will have a bigger success rate internally in the organization.

This is why I suggest that you already begin to consider an AR strategy and to what extent your organization can benefit from integrating augmented reality into the work day of your employees.

Ask these questions before you start detailing your strategy:

  • Will our employees embrace augmented reality?
    Define what steps you need to take to support the adoption process, such as providing access to devices, technology and training.
  • How can AR improve our employee experience?
    Identify your employees’ needs and how AR can help fulfil those needs. Examine which tools they already use in their work and to what extent they can be enhanced by, or even replaced, with augmented reality.
  • In what areas of our communication could this be most effective?
    Choose an area where visual storytelling and increased immediacy can foster the greatest positive impact.
  • How will we measure success?
    Start your program with one specific AR initiative and track its success. Feedback and metrics can help you make informed choices about investments going forward.

Digital workplaces are on everyone’s lips at the moment. And many have been delayed when it came to upgrade and adoption processes for their digital workplace strategy. Augmented Reality will eventually become a part of your digital workplace – so get brainstorming and start planning today!


5 employee communications trends in 2017

5 trends in employee communication
5 trends in employee communication

5 employee communications trends in 2017

What will we see this year, now that Workplace by Facebook has been tested successfully? And after disruption and gamification found their way into the employee communications scene? Here’s our take on five trends that will shape employee communications this year.

By: Solrun Sigfusdottir Øfjord, Communication Advisor (2 January 2017)

When we look at employee communications trends for 2017, the common thread is courage, action and engagement. Also, employee communications (EC) will fetch inspiration from disciplines such as digitalization, business development and statistics.

Deep diving into new technology and employee communications

We will need to adapt and execute even faster than today.

We’ll need to take disruption and digitalization into account.

And we’ll need to act on the fact that our stakeholders expect the same results and documentation from EC as they observe and experience within external communication.

So, here is what we see as five major trends for employee communications in 2017:

1. Business-driven internal comms

Over the past few years, KPIs and performance measurements have become a part of everyday life in many EC departments. In 2017, EC will take it a bit further in a performance direction and be highly inspired by methods from business development and branding.

Just as top management focuses on how to develop a profitable business creating products of value for customers and investors, the EC department will be driven as a business.

The EC department will evaluate its business model:

  • What is the core business for EC in the organization?
  • What value should it create? Is it a profitable business?
  • What is the value we add?

Because one thing is certain: When we speak the same language as the CEO, the management will see the value of EC even more clearly. And perhaps budgets will even grow.

2. Many small measurements give the big picture

ROI, big data and measuring impact has been on our lips the last five years. But now, we break the code on what we as EC professionals historically are rather poor at: to measure the effect of IC.

There are two main reasons why measurements gain momentum in 2017:

  1. It is now possible to collect quantitative data from platforms other than the intranet. Mobile-enabled games and quizzes are becoming a more common part of EC campaigns. We can link data with behavior, to give us an indication of needs and where there is room for improvement.
  2. We are accepting that measurements do not have to be 100% methodologically correct and true to triangulation, representativeness, validity and reliability. It is okay to take the temperature of distinct elements of a campaign, e.g. the target group’s understanding of a strategy.

And it is better to execute small and more frequent pulse measurements than 360° measurements; many small measurements together over time will paint the big picture.

3. The leader in front

Communication is one of the most important keys to successful leadership. That is old news. However, it is a trend that managers are becoming increasingly conscious of their role as communicators.Their communication competencies must now also fit their management level.

We will meet a growing number of leaders who insist on being fully prepared to orchestrate their communication. They will not accept classic cascading frameworks where they inherit a PowerPoint down the line and have limited flexibility to create authenticity and true engagement.

This imposes great requirements for the communication training of the leaders with some trends that are sticking. Leaders now demand fully customized communication kits, with step-by- step guides for engaging, motivating and authentic dialogue with employees. These kits contain engagement exercises, videos, and other items with a creative twist, some of which may never have been seen before inside the organization.

4. Co-creation is the new bottom-up

The target audience is still the center of the communication, but outside-in perspectives will play a greater role in EC. Stakeholders and end-users will be involved early in the development of internal campaigns. When planning a strategy roll-out, the need of the markets will play a greater role than ever before in the bottom-up communication. The methods used are brainstorming, prioritizing exercises and prototyping – methods known from external product development.

In other words, co-creation will make a breakthrough this year.

And why now, 17 years after the concept was born?

Because digital communication is growing both internally and externally, and in digital communication, co-creating with end-users is an important part of creating great deliverables. Within IC, we are always looking for great arguments for management on how important IC is in creating employer engagement, and an argument that the target was involved in developing the communication deliverables is stronger than quotes from a focus group.

Perhaps the greatest strength of co-creation is the minimal effort it requires. We can now get a baseline on the target group’s level of knowledge, engagement and needs. We also take the initial steps in implementing the strategic initiatives already in the design phase because representatives from the target group already are involved and have become great ambassadors.

5. Social intranets as innovation engines

Social intranets will turn internal communication upside-down, regardless of whether the technical solution is Workplace, Slack, SharePoint or something else. After two years of beta testing, expect Workplace to be talk-of- the-town and lead to more organizations implementing social intranets.

Social intranets focus on employees’ needs for rapid knowledge sharing, support and social community.

Moreover, social intranets can break down silos, boost dialog and support knowledge sharing on the terms of the employees. It is a revolution for knowledge sharing and introducing social intranets can become the determining factor in making employees open the intranet as the first thing in the morning.

In the end, we need to be agile

So, roll up your sleeves – we have work to do. EC is more exciting and more challenging than ever and this year we will prove ourselves as the hybrids we are, juggling communications, facts, figures and technology.


10 ways to kill your employee communications

10 ways to kill your communication employee communications
10 ways to kill your communication employee communications

10 ways to kill your employee communications

Check out this Open golden oldie: '10 ways to kill your employee communications'. This short publication contains a tour-de-force of what often goes wrong in internal communication.

By: Cristina Gavrila, Communication Specialist (5 January 2017)

When we originally created this employee communications booklet, it was meant as a one-off cheerful gimmick, but it has proven to be a big hit around the office. If you have ever visited us, you probably have your own print copy.

Clients often refer to the messages inside, page through it when visiting and have a little laugh about it. As we’re currently doing a third print of it, we believe it shows the power of combining simple messages with a bit of humor.

Download the publication below for a good laugh on how to kill communication.

DOWNLOAD PUBLICATION

Employee communications – About Open

Our approach

We believe that creating curiosity, encouraging active involvement, and sharing progress and successes is what engages employees.

Our Inspire-Act-Share engagement model is at the core of everything we do.

What we do

We empower employees. We boost local decision making by providing employees with business insight and sense of direction required to make the right choices in everyday work.

We create purpose by ensuring high employee engagement and performance by translating business strategies into meaningful and purposeful messages that employees can relate to.

We unite organizations by enabling the organization to function as one efficient organism by building bridges that tie the organization together, breaking down silos and hierarchies.