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How Many Apps Does It Take to Change a Workplace?

By Tsubasa Nakazawa

For years now, the tech industry has been selling the promise that adopting more digital tools will help employees ease their workload, make time for value-added tasks, and increase productivity.

Businesses are under constant pressure to either integrate new digital tools and applications, or risk losing out to better-equipped competitors. As a result, more companies are now drowning in more tools than they can handle, and the boon of technology has morphed into the bane of modern office workers.  

According to a Pegasystems report, workers using 30 applications or more in a shift have an error rate 28 percent higher than those operating on fewer apps. Over the course of a year, this lost productivity can amount to days spent making and correcting preventable mistakes. While a certain degree of human error is unavoidable, we do a lot better than we are now.  

With digital transformation still a hot topic in the industry, we don’t yet have a full picture of how an overabundance of tools affects employee morale. However, we’re already seeing compelling reports of fatigue and burnout, as well as complaints about wasted time and tedium. On average, research shows employees waste up to an hour a day, roughly 32 workdays per year, simply toggling between apps. It should come as no surprise that digital app glut has downbeat effects on employee attention and motivation. 

This is a massive problem. It’s not uncommon to see large companies implement hundreds of workplace applications, the majority of which will have a negligible--if not downright counterproductive--effect on profitability. The root of the problem can be traced down to individual departments each opting to use distinct tools, none of which communicate with one another, and all of which require endless cycles of logins and authentication. Something as simple as having a marketing department on Dropbox and an HR department on Google Drive can create unnecessary bottlenecks and confusion. 

Employees need the best possible conditions for sharing information, and right now, companies are not delivering.

Excessive overheads

A lot of digital platforms are tailored to a specific business function and perform that function beautifully. In the era of hybrid work, apps like Slack and Telegram are great for chatting, just as Zoom and Microsoft Teams are for video conferencing. Specialised apps like QuickBooks and Wave might be of great help in tracking invoices and expenses. There’s an app guaranteed to boost every individual aspect of every type of business. It’s easy then to think that adding all sorts of apps will boost productivity in all sorts of ways. Unfortunately, total productivity can’t be calculated by the sum of its parts. 

On top of costs in time and motivation, more apps also end up costing more money. The whole world is feeling the pressures of inflation, and managing rising subscription fees gets more complicated the more subscriptions you have. When you consider how little most applications are used and how poor their cost-performance ratio can ultimately be, it can become hard to justify the ballooning expense of new technology. 

How centralization can help

When assessing their tech tools, companies should carefully evaluate their value and necessity, how they interact with one another, and if there are less expensive alternatives. It’s also important not to lose track of the bigger economic picture, as often in times of inflation, a salary raise can do far more than a shiny new app for employee morale and productivity. 

An avenue to consider is the rising market of centralised no-code platforms, which can be used across departments and customised by users without any coding experience. Having a centralised tool is easier on employees, has a measurable impact on productivity, and doesn’t come with the hassle of having to manage multiple subscriptions and services. 

No-code platforms are changing the relationship companies have with their business technology. Many business owners still think of new tech as prohibitively expensive, slow to implement and difficult to learn. As a result, they shy away. 

But no-code developers share these concerns and have been working on a solution. No-code software platforms are cheaper, easier to learn and easier to maintain than their traditional cookie-cutter alternatives. They offer a DIY-style user experience suitable for all departments, enabling entire companies to come together and build more effective, better coordinated operations. 

Flipping the way employees communicate online

Another important innovation spearheaded by no-code platforms is a reimagining of how companies share information. In traditional systems--like email, chat, and video conferencing--information is typically shared on a need-to-know basis. The default is to have information spread out and siloed, so the burden is on employees to proactively communicate with one another. The result--as any modern office worker has likely experienced--is wasting time waiting for information, sending confirmations, looking for the right version of the right document, and other needless delays. 

Open communication is the idea that within any company, the default setting should be for everyone to have access to all the latest information necessary to do their jobs. If you need the latest sales figures, marketing budget breakdown, or inventory numbers, you can easily look them up in real time. The benefits are manifold, from streamlined onboarding of new employees to better interdepartmental collaboration, to less miscommunication. 

When companies hear of open communication as the default for the first time, they often raise concerns about security. How do you keep sensitive data safe when all information is open?

Just because openness is the default doesn’t mean all information is open. Confidential information can easily be kept confidential. What’s important is to strike the right balance between security and efficiency. We shouldn’t be asking ourselves, “Should this information be public?” We should be asking, “Does this information need to be confidential?” By simply changing their default approach to communication, companies can build a culture of openness and transparency, increasing trust and engagement among employees. 

Centralised no-code platforms are so easy to use and present such clear benefits, they’re rapidly gaining traction among organisations of all sizes. In the years ahead, we should expect these platforms to continue to revolutionise the modern workplace, providing employees with a less strenuous environment, smarter automation, and better information sharing. The promise of no-code is simple: Give people the tools to do their best work, and they will.

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SBR Technology Excellence Awards 2024 Winner: Gulf Marine Pte. Ltd. Information Technology
Gulf Marine, a leading marine lubricant provider, was recognised at the SBR Technology Excellence Awards 2024 under the Enterprise Software - Marine Services category for their Project Orchestrate, a solution that automates tasks and empowers employees. 
Information Technology SBR Technology Excellence Awards 2024 Winner: Gulf Marine Pte. Ltd.
Gulf Marine, a leading marine lubricant provider, was recognised at the SBR Technology Excellence Awards 2024 under the Enterprise Software - Marine Services category for their Project Orchestrate, a solution that automates tasks and empowers employees.