In a November 2022 DWG Institute Technology Exchange, Linnae Selinga and Erik Martel from Workgrid discussed how to integrate apps into your digital workplace, and gave a demo of Workgrid’s new ‘no-code’ Workshop feature. This post offers some takeaways from the session and a recording is included.
DWG team and guests
DWG team: Nicole Carter, Andrea Brandt and Rose Miller
Linnae Selinga, Senior Product Manager, Workgrid
Erik Martel, Digital Workplace and Employee Experience Consultant, Workgrid
Who will be interested in this DWG Institute Technology Exchange session?
This DWG Institute Technology Exchange will be of particular interest to:
digital workplace teams looking at delivering a more integrated experience
anyone interested in integrating apps into their digital workplace
stakeholders interested in using the Workgrid platform.
Reducing digital friction and improving employee experience
The digital friction caused by an overload of apps and information in the digital workplace is a major issue, impacting productivity, efficiency and even wellbeing. It’s no wonder that many digital workplace teams focus on trying to improve employee experience by developing environments that integrate apps into one single place; this reduces the number of apps employees need to visit, while presenting the information that is most useful and valuable. However, getting this right and delivering it at scale is not easy.
For our latest DWG Institute Technology Exchange we were joined by Linnae Selinga and Erik Martel from Workgrid, a company that has developed a digital assistant which helps to integrate apps together into one consistent experience, making them more easily accessible in the digital workplace, for example via an intranet.
Technology Exchanges (TX) are interactive online video sessions where DWG members and guests learn from and about technology providers in a safe, non-sales environment designed to build trust and understanding. Technology Exchanges amplify the voice of the practitioner by providing direct feedback from attendees to participating providers.
In this session, Linnae and Erik talked about some of the issues around digital friction and how Workgrid’s platform is innovating in this area. Here are some key takeaways from the Technology Exchange.
The rise of digital friction
Digital friction is now a real problem across the digital workplace. Linnae explained how many organizations have vast numbers of disparate apps that employees need to use within their working week, leading to a range of problems, including inefficiency, time-wasting, distraction, lack of focus, poor productivity, employee frustration and cognitive overload. While digital friction is nothing new, it is currently increasing with the uptick in digital interactions brought about by hybrid and remote working.
To show us the scale of the problem, Linnae revealed some statistics, such as:
68% of employees toggle between apps up to 10 times an hour
31% of employees say toggling causes them to lose their train of thought
it can take 9 minutes to fully recover focus after a distraction
employees waste as much as 50% of their time context switching
and, in her own mini-study, Linnae found that employees toggle up to 100 times in their first hour at work!
Underlying these statistics, there are three main reasons for digital friction:
applications overload, with employees feeling overwhelmed by the YATTC (‘yet another thing to check’) effect
information overload, where it becomes very difficult to tell what is important and what is not
digital noise pollution, with the continual signals, pings, noises and notifications that demand your attention during the working day.
The challenge of building app integrations
A common solution to tackle digital friction (and to stop it getting worse) is by creating a unified employee experience that integrates different apps into one place, meaning employees no longer have to visit so many different solutions. However, this is hard to do at scale and in a repeatable way.
Integrations sound easy to do on paper, but they are actually quite difficult to achieve and are subject to a few challenges:
people often underestimate the ongoing cost associated with integrations, as they may need to be upgraded or changed whenever an external system is changed, so managing multiple integrations can end up with considerable levels of technical debt
people don’t always budget for ongoing maintenance and management
integrations delivered via out-of-the-box connectors don’t always work quite as expected and people end up seeking a custom integration
integrations can sometimes be one way only, not bi-directional, so changes are not reflected in both systems involved.
How a digital assistant and guided attention technology can help
Workgrid has built a solution that integrates apps into a single, consistent employee experience that helps to reduce digital friction and maximize productivity. Typically, this is delivered as part of an existing intranet or digital workplace solution, as a persistent vertical toolbar. To illustrate this approach, Erik gave us a quick demo of the Workgrid platform, showing us four different areas of the digital assistant:
To know: personalized reminders, notifications and messages from all the systems an employee uses, aggregated into a unified feed or ‘single pane of glass’, for example from across Microsoft 365 and a learning management system (LMS)
To do: the need to take action across different systems such as manager approvals and requests, with the ability to take action without leaving Workgrid
App section: a selection of apps from multiple systems that allows an employee to initiate and complete tasks, such as check their pay slip and request annual leave, from a system such as Workday
Workgrid chatbot: the ability to ask questions using a conversational interface, for example to find specific items such as policies.
Linnae also explained that Workgrid is an example of a ‘guided attention’ technology that helps employees to focus and do their best work, aiding personal productivity and decision-making.
Introducing Workgrid Workshop, a new no-code app builder
As a provider of a platform that delivers multiple integrations, Workgrid has experienced various challenges; as Linnae put it: “integrations don’t play nice”. Challenges include different customers having various versions of apps that require different APIs; system customizations, which can prove to be a trip hazard for integrations; and organizations that have unique needs and wants, and require an integration to be different to the standard one provided.
To overcome some of these challenges, Workgrid has developed ‘Workgrid Workshop’, a brand new ‘no-code app builder’ that helps business teams to craft their own integrations delivered via the Workgrid platform. It allows them to:
leverage a catalogue of workshop templates and connectors to popular enterprise applications, using these out of the box or as a starting point to design their own apps
use an intuitive drag-and-drop authoring canvas with a visual interface to design their own apps
build smart nofications, workflows and integrations that all plug into the Workgrid front-end experience.
During the session we got a good demo of the Workgrid Workshop, so if you are interested in how this works, it is easiest to view the video recording of the session to get a walkthrough of its capabilties and features.
The benefits of a no-code approach to app building
Workgrid’s new Workshop feature is designed to appeal both to business and technology stakeholders. For the former it provides a tangible method to transform the employee experience in a way that will reduce digital friction and also maximize attention to guide focus and support productivity. But for IT departments it also provides a platform to:
develop and deliver quicker solutions with faster time to market and reduced costs
leverage the power and knowledge of ‘citizen developers’, taking the pressure off core development teams
modernize legacy systems by delivering seamless integration into a more modern and consistent user experience.
Our thanks to Linnae and Erik for another great DWG Institute Technology Exchange!
This DWG Institute Technology Exchange was broadcast in November 2022. The recording of the session includes the following items:
Introduction and housekeeping
Reasons for digital friction
Digital friction statistics
Where does digital friction come from?
Building a unified employee application
Challenges around building integrations
How the Workgrid digital assistant helps
Demo of the Workgrid digital assistant
What is ‘guided attention’ technology?
Why maintaining integrations has been challenging for Workgrid
Selecting a template
Setting up an app
Configuring a notification
Testing the app
Deploying the app
Building an app from scratch
More set-up questions