Working from home? Feel like you’re stranded on a desert island, trying desperately to make things seem normal? A few weeks in to physical distancing, remote work doesn’t seem quite so strange anymore, but it’s still less than ideal. Managers are losing precious time, trying to juggle a number of roles, standing in for the infrastructure their team is used to having at their fingertips. Oh yeah, and doing their best to get their own tasks done, probably while their kids are bouncing around the next room. Most remote workers are doing their best, but things are still slipping through the cracks.
Rather than playing the victim and lowering expectations across the board, smart companies are looking to innovate and turn a difficult situation into a better way of working long-term.
Interactive Digital Assistants can be your employees’ superhero, saving your team from the pitfalls of home office, providing the answers and services they need, faster than a speeding bullet.
Cranked-up Communication: The #1 Rule of Remote Work!
A Digital Assistant is not meant to replace face-to-face or regular communication with management, but it can streamline the process and eliminate stress of long wait times and frequent workflow interruptions.
“Just a quick question… Where do I find … ?”
When we’re sitting across the desk or across the hall, information sharing is instantaneous. Just one little answer or update keeps work flowing seamlessly. But when the team is scattered, it’s not easy to know who’s available, and a quick question can easily turn into a long wait, or a long back-and-forth on Slack.
Digital Assistants mean less waiting, because they are always available to their deskmates and answer right away. All this while allowing their other coworkers to continue their critical work uninterrupted.
Then, when the team does take the time to meet or teleconference, they can stick to more important subjects. And your Digital Assistant can even set up these appointments and calls for you.
Enhanced Productivity Generation: Streamline Internal Processes, Encourage Self-Support
With Digital Assistants at their sides, companies can automate the most common employee tasks and concerns (but not just simple ones!). As they streamline repetitive processes, Digital Assistants free up overloaded HR, IT and other employee services personnel for more complex tasks and situations. These Resources could stay on task and keep projects on track as Digital Assistants support employees and customers.
Digital Assistants give all employees access to a variety of tools and resources all in one place. This reduces the time it would take them to look for answers, documents, forms, or other tools and promotes independent working. The natural language interface a Digital Assistant provides saves additional time; employees make a request and get the task done as easily as chatting to a coworker. In addition, it gives employees the satisfaction of taking care of themselves and teaches them new skills they can use throughout their careers.
For example, a Digital Assistant can take the time to provide step-by-step support for employees who need help signing in to the company’s VPN, verifying credentials, or using a teleconferencing or scheduling tool for the first time. They can also help remote workers fill out forms directly in the conversation, such as the requisition forms for the equipment they need to work efficiently, expense reports, or time-off requests.
Shape-Shifting: the Devices Your Employees Use Most
Digital Assistants have an advantage over chatbots; they can escape the web chat and turn into a number of different devices. There’s no need to choose one static platform; Digital Assistants can be integrated into multiple platforms and devices simultaneously, letting users decide how they communicate most effectively.
Digital Assistants can work both in laptops and on smartphones, for employees who’d rather talk than text. Digital Assistants can be integrated to any software or IOT hardware that supports voice and speech from Facebook to Phone Integrations to Alexa or Google Home. Need something more visual? Digital Assistants can even take shape with Augmented or Virtual Reality, providing your employees with a virtual office mate!
Built-In Sidekick: Prevent Isolation
The change from a busy office to a quiet home can be lonely, especially after an extended period of time.
In a 2019 report about the state of remote work by online brand development agency Buffer, surveyed remote workers cited loneliness as the second-most common struggle, ahead of communication.
Digital Assistants can counteract the psychological effects of remote work, allowing for small talk and support, and can even end casual notifications to check in on employees so they don’t feel ignored or left out.
As a unique point of contact, Digital Assistants provide a consistent voice for your company’s message and brand. Employees know someone is there for them, even when they don’t see anyone. Excellent Digital Assistants have a Personality, making them more human and restoring empathy to online interactions. This companionship can reduce stress and provide your employees with the sense of security that they are out of sight, but not out of mind.
Telepathy: Learn from your Employees
Digital Assistants use the data users give them to constantly learn and grow their own knowledge, and they can also share their main learnings with your management team. Digital Assistants securely and anonymously keep track of employee needs and requests and provide valuable insights to managers and HR professionals. Of course, Digital Assistants can’t really read minds, but they can produce reports about general trends based on the interactions they have had with employees.
For example, sentiment recognition analyzes employees’ mood for each interaction, then compiles the data to give insight on their individual and collective well-being. This is important, because symptoms such as discontent and isolation can be difficult to detect without frequent face time.
Meanwhile, automated reports on the most common requests your employees make helps you analyze the project and further tailor your Digital Assistant to their needs.
Your Digital Assistant can do all this and more, all while shielding your employees’ individual privacy and keeping them anonymous.
Omniscience: Centralized Access to Consistent Information
It can be a big challenge to locate the answers you need, especially when you’re out of the office. Between the company’s website, intranet, department publications, sales documents, and many other information channels, where should you start? Digital Assistants can link to all of your available tools and resources in one spot, so employees can get what they need, and get back to work.
This also means less effort needed to repeat new information an all of the platforms your employees use. You can spread a consistent message to all employees right through the Digital Assistant, reaching across departments, roles, even language and location.
This way you can be sure everyone is getting the same information, avoiding confusion and strengthening your message.
Also, it’s important to choose a Digital Assistant platform, that easily integrates all the other solutions my company uses. Since a Digital Assistant is most useful not just with static answers, but the ability to read and write live information within other tools employees use. For example, Your Digital Assistant should be able to communicate directly with ERP tools such as SAP, plus other individual PLM, CRM, and HR Tools, along with all the other software employees currently use, or any new software that might come in the future! Employees can use the Digital Assistant to request vacation days, access procurement, consult documentation, book work travel, bill their hours, etc. as easily as chatting with their Digital Assistant.
Elasticity: Change and Grow with Your Business
Your company’s and employee’s needs today won’t be the same as they will be next year, or, let’s face it, even next week. A Digital Assistant needs to be able to stretch and bend to keep up with an ever-changing world.
As your company looks to create Digital Assistants for the long run, think about a platform that’s as flexible as your work is. This is a big issue, because while run-of-the-mill chatbots may be solid, they’re as rigid as concrete, with long wait-times to make even the smallest changes.
Instead, look to a super Digital Assistant with a platform that is easy to use by non-technical personnel and that allows for easy updating and re-training.
There’s no one better to train an employee services assistant than an employee services professional, and you don’t always want to wait days or weeks or months for programmers to update your Digital Assistant’s knowledge. project managers can change and update your Digital Assistant’s Knowledge as often as they want, quickly and easily, without programming skills or external help.
Adding a new remote working tool and need to present it to your team? Want to give employees access to up-to-date information on company events and promotions? Just add the information and links your employees need, train, release, and your employees can access it within seconds. Then, when your employees don’t need it anymore, you can take it back out, easy as that.
Magnetism: Increase Employee Retention Rates
Keeping good employees working for your company is one of the greatest, and worthwhile, challenges. As a constant through changing situations, Digital Assistants don’t just keep employees productive, they keep them happy to be working for your company. They act as an additional layer of direct support, so workers feel more in touch and more productive, allowing them to focus on the advantages of remote work and improving overall job satisfaction.
Companies allowing remote work have a 25% lower employee turnover than those that don’t. That’s high motivation to go the extra mile now to make the work-at-home situation easier on valuable employees, so you can reap the benefits on the long term.
As employees grow accustomed to working from home and start to see the benefits as well as the inconveniences, a Digital Assistant can become part of a long-term remote working strategy; one your employees will thank you for. 80% of employees consider telework a job perk, and more than a third would choose it over a pay raise.
The Bottom Line – Rescuing Companies on the Long-Term
There’s trouble in Metropolis, and we’re facing an unexpected challenge. Digital Assistants can swoop in to save the day, helping employees and teams to weather the storm on a temporary basis. But a team of Digital Heroes can also be counted on long into the future. They bring constant support to any employees who want to work from home, full or part-time on the long-term. They make daily work easier wherever you’re working from, and increase employee satisfaction and retention across the board. They also save your company money, reducing costs across departments, from recruitment to support requests.
Have no fear. Digital Assistants are here, minimizing the inconveniences of remote work, so you and your company can take full advantage of the cost and time-saving benefits that remote work brings.
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This is the second article in a series about use cases for Digital Assistants and how we can use this current situation to build sustainable solutions that will help us long after the pandemic.
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