Need a taxi? Tap an app and off you go. Fancy a burger in front of Game of Thrones? Grab your phone and wait for the doorbell. But what about booking annual leave with work? Or scheduling a review with your line manager? Or, heaven forbid, logging into the e-learning portal to catch up with your training?
For too long now, the systems we expect people to use at work have been over-complicated and badly designed. There are multiple stages to get through, forms to complete, hidden buttons and boxes to tick, approval to wait for, windows to open and reopen, functions that crash and inexplicably complex messages that leave you none the wiser.
Is it really any wonder that HR teams spend their lives chasing people to complete the most basic of tasks?
Enough is enough. At WorkLifeLabs, we’re working with app developers, with UX specialists, with HR teams and with employees to make the technology we interact with at work as user-friendly as the apps we use at home.
Our first product is an app that quickly and seamlessly connects people to world class professional development coaches. Our new app will radically change the way people experience coaching and dramatically accelerate their development. Beautiful in design, easy to access, simple to navigate, and powerfully engaging, we have leading global organizations already signed up ahead of launch.
When developing the app, our research into the needs and behaviors of users informed our design process. Here’s what I learned:
1. LESS IS MORE
Think simple layouts, big buttons and only a couple of functions. That sounds obvious in the real world of UX and design. But one of the main problems with most work systems is they try to do everything and then inevitably fail to do anything well. We wanted to do the opposite.
2. SIMPLIFY THE PROCESS
If it takes more than a couple of taps or clicks to get the results you want, people get distracted and move on. (Let’s face it, there will always be something more interesting than booking an e-learning course.)
3. MAKE IT WORK ON A PHONE
People don’t sit at desks all day anymore—they work from the backs of taxis (that they booked with an app), from shared workspace (that they booked with an app) or from home (where the apps on their phones and TVs make the comparison with work systems even more obvious).
4. KEEP PEOPLE IN THE SYSTEM
Imagine if Deliveroo required you to pick your food then order via WhatsApp. So many HR systems have corresponding paper forms or separate steps that disrupt the process. With our new app, letting people talk to coaches from within its platform— instead of via FaceTime or Skype—has made a huge difference in keeping people engaged.
5. MAKE IT LOOK GOOD
People don’t judge applications against other HR systems or work technology; they are holding it up against the best brands, the slickest apps and the most seamless websites they encounter every day. Investment in design will never be wasted.
So, what can you do if you work somewhere with systems that clearly aren’t working? Where people don’t do what the business needs them to do, or where seemingly simple procedures take up valuable working time?
Firstly, try the process yourself. Have a go at booking a course, or signing up for a coaching session or even just flagging something with HR. Note the sticking points—the confusing design, the bits that take you out of the loop, the extra stages that allow you to get distracted. See if there’s anything you can do to make it more seamless.
Ask people what kind of system they’d want to use— and not just what they’d want to use every couple of months, but what they’d like to have on their phone and use every day.
"Beautiful in design, easy to access, simple to navigate, and powerfully engaging, our new app will radically change the way people experience coaching and dramatically accelerate their development."
Then rewrite anything outdated, redesign anything cluttered and rewire anything complicated. Put user experience first—just as the creators of the apps you use every day did when they were starting out.
Creating a great user experience is a mammoth task, and like most great things it takes time and expertise, but even making a couple of changes to the systems you rely on will make a huge difference to productivity and engagement.
At WorkLifeLabs we’re looking to revolutionize the working world by making the technology we use at work as simple, slick and seamless as any app you’d use in your everyday life—even more so, in fact, because it’s so unexpected in this world.
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