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Fending off app overload in the hybrid workplace

There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned how we work on its head. Some businesses have been left to play catch-up with their unfinished digital transformation projects, while those with a head start are looking at optimising their newly minted hybrid work environments, in which some employees working from home while others continue to work on site.

The hybrid workplace model is here to stay, but what’s not so certain is what the future of work will look like. Often, businesses trying to expedite their digital transformation efforts end up overcompensating by purchasing more technology than they need. And when it’s not implemented well, the influx of tech can negatively impact employees.

We recently conducted research that found one in three Australian workers don’t believe their employer has the right technology for a successful hybrid workplace. However, 84 per cent said that with the right technology investment, a hybrid workplace would be successful.

There’s no inherent problem with buying new technology if it’s affordable and well implemented. The issue has more to do with the sheer number of applications companies are forcing their staff to use to maintain productivity. A study from Okta recently found that large organisations saddle their employees with an average of 175 applications, which can be incredibly complicated for staff to get their heads around, especially if they’re not connected. 

Small businesses can average around ten applications and owners need to make sure all the apps are working for them. Unfortunately, it can take more time to maintain these applications than they save in usefulness and efficiency. 

Australian employees told us their top requirements for technology stacks: it has to be friendly and intuitive, integrates with daily workflows, and be adopted company-wide to ensure colleagues can work together.

The prevailing lesson for avoiding app overload is that your business enablement stack needs to work for your staff, not the other way around. The business enablement stack comprises any technology application or process that allows staff to do their job. A good business enablement stack should streamline IT spending and technology implementation, align the entire workforce with technology to enable high-quality work, and provide a unified business experience across the entire organisation. However, in today’s hybrid work world, there are several considerations that business leaders must keep in mind while trying to implement this business enablement stack successfully. 

Friendly and intuitive

One of the major contributors to app overload is the contrast between consumer and enterprise technology. Employees already have their own consumer applications they like, and there’s a high chance it has a better customer experience than a comparative business tool. However, the gap between consumer and enterprise applications is shrinking, which means customers increasingly expect the same intuitive experience using a business tool as they would any other.

Australia’s workforce has more representation from Millennials than ever with 35 percent, while Gen Z’s account for 24 per cent of the overall workforce. These younger generations are more likely to value technology proficiency from their employer.

If employers want to attract workers from these generations, they need to look at their technology stack as a competitive differentiator and promote a workplace that enables collaboration.

Integrate daily workflows

Businesses that roll out technology as soon as possible run the risk of neglecting a seamless integration, which can cause more headaches for staff. 

Without seamless integration, employees are forced to spend obscene amounts of time simply looking for information that’s been duplicated or lost across the various systems within their organisation’s technology stack. 

Australian employees spend an estimated 4-6 hours a week trying to track down information across different applications at the cost of more than AUD$75 billion a year lost in productivity. Not only can application overload cost a fortune, switching between different apps can put a serious mental strain on employees. 

Integration across the business

The technical reasons why businesses need to ensure smooth integration are the same as why the business enablement stack needs to be rolled out and adopted across the company. Duplicating information across employees using their own processes can lead to digital duplicates, more time spent locating information and ultimately less productivity.

If employees aren’t adopting technology company-wide, employers need to analyse what’s going wrong. Our study found that lack of consistent use across the entire organisation was the second most common reason employees choose not to adopt new technology (the top being lack of integration). In such scenarios, organisations should go back to the drawing board to ensure the technology stack serves the business rather than the other way around.

The future of work is materialising in front of our eyes. Hybrid work is here to stay, and it could change again before we even realise it. That’s why it’s vital that any business that wants to remain relevant ensures its tech stack is integrated across the applications employees use every day, which is easy to use and adopted company-wide – that way, it can support “the new normal” however it shakes out to be.


Read more: Why effective internal communication is vital to hybrid working success


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