Why Employees Shouldn't Be Worried About Location-Aware Apps

Nowadays, almost everyone is tech savvy to some extent. We all understand that our personal data is on the internet. We acknowledge the fact, and we enjoy getting a lot of value from online communities and services. For a lot of those services we actively authorise mobile apps access to our locations:

  • Accessing Promotions (Facebook, FourSquare)
  • Social connections (Tinder, Find My Friends)
  • Finding Services (OpenTable, Yelp)
  • Navigation (Uber, Google Maps, iMaps)


No problem, right? But when it comes to their work lives, many employees seem to be worried about location-aware apps.


In the above cases, allowing apps to know where we are, provides us with real value: saving money, improving safety, increasing choices or saving time. Google Maps became so successful because it made both printing, and reading physical maps near-to obsolete.


Uber removed the guesswork from finding an available taxi, and how to pay the fare. So, if it works in our private lives why do so many people consider inappropriate in the workplace? Employees, who are worried about location-aware apps in the office, should ask themselves this, "What's in it for me?"


Overcome objections by focusing on WIIFM (What's-in-it-for-me?)

The most common objections towards location awareness at work come from fear of micromanagement. If my employer is aware of my location, does that imply that they are tracking every one of my movements? Will I be in trouble if I take a long lunch break? How, precisely, are they making use of this data?


Although these are genuine concerns, more and more companies are recognising the value of an outcome-based measurement. The emphasis is drifting from metrics like time spent on deliverables, legal and accounting, and answered calls, to outcomes like client and employee satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. Consequently, the increase of location-aware workplace applications helps support the worker's value proposition by offering tools to empower and safeguard employees.


Three fundamental value propositions regarding location-awareness in the workforce apps:


1. Safety and Security

Tracking for security and safety is a value understood and accepted by employees in all kinds of industries. Location-aware apps are add-ons of already existing solutions that use both current and more effective technologies. Human Resource departments are now deploying solutions to improve worker’s security and safety with face recognition cameras, physical security checks, access cards to restrict entry to premises, and much more.


2. Convenience

Location-aware apps make employees lives much more comfortable by providing the right information at the right place and time. Take the case of an office hoteling app. In the past, hotelling involved reserving an office or a desk in advance, booking a computer terminal and then actually looking for your desk. With location-awareness, people who use office hoteling can simply walk in, spot an open space, and take a seat.


3. Experience/ Engagement

According to the latest Gallup poll, 87% of companies are keen to introduce location-aware apps in the near future. The reasons include a strengthening of the work community, flexibility, collaboration, and training. They believe mobile location apps offer a great opportunity to promote collaboration and flexibility while retaining a sense of community.


Location-aware apps increase the mobile proposition of workers by lessening the effort it takes to cooperate and access company services on their mobile. Location-based messaging for connecting with nearby workmates, at-your-desk services, as well as feedback surveys from employees, are some of the mechanisms innovative corporations are employing to conserve and attract talents.


Avoid miscommunication when making the change

Despite all the good intentions, companies can often fail when it comes to implementation through the spread of misunderstanding and miscommunication. One prompt way to incite a backlash from workers is to make changes without their knowledge.


This discovery was made by the Daily Telegraph when they fixed sensors in their offices to detect space utilisation. The employees were not informed in advance, and they became suspicious, although the primary purpose of the sensors was to create a conducive working environment.


It is simple for the board members to recognise the value of knowing employees locations, and communicating that value to employees requires a bridging of the context gap that exists between the front line and the executives.


For instance, a company’s management may consider the importance of tracking janitorial employees lies in the ability for accident prevention. But a janitor who is forced to use the app might not agree with, or understand the same risk.


When passing this information to its janitors, the company should ensure that the accident risk is clearly understood, and take time to explain how the app can make their jobs a lot easier, such as removing inconvenient forms and time-consuming check-in procedures.


Ask for permission

One of the most significant advantages of mobile apps is that their installation can be a way of seeking permission. Great location-aware apps convey a value proposition to the workers throughout the installation process and seek to obtain direct permission from users to identify where they are.


In a case where the app is not optional, companies should ensure they have an excellent communication process explaining why it is needed, what it does, and its benefits. Management should also address outright privacy concerns and conduct an open discussion regarding what tracking means and explain the program goals.


Engage employees in the process

Acceptance goes hand in hand with involvement. Just like any other change initiative, the person who clearly understand the value (and possible objections), is more likely to use the app. Involve employees not only in the design process but incorporate their feedback too.


Final Thoughts

Employees worry less about location-aware apps when they understand the software is customised to fit their requirements and to enable them to perform their jobs easily, efficiently, and safely.

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