It's been eight years since the iPhone debuted - eight years since the way we communicate with each other drastically changed. Just think about how often you sit down at a desktop or laptop computer now, outside of your workday. It's becoming more rare every day as mobile technologies like smartphones and tablets give us immediate and constant access to personal email, social media accounts, apps that let us order pizza at midnight on a Wednesday for delivery...the list goes on. Nearly everything we need is literally in the palm of our hands and right at our fingertips.
This has also impacted the means through which we conduct business as well. Certainly we're a bit more stationary at work than at home, and therefore more likely to use a desktop or laptop computer with our smartphones or tablets acting as secondary devices. However, many of us spend the majority of our days switching between email inbox and chat windows. In this new millennium, that's simply the way we communicate with each other Monday through Friday.
There are, however, outliers: nearly half of Americans work in industries where company email isn't a thing. Retail, utilities, restaurants, hospitals, shipping companies - these employees often don't have access to the same kind of corporate communication tools that day-to-day office workers do. This, in turn, creates various challenges ranging from gathering vital information to scheduling to document sharing, as well as sharing other, potentially important information coming in from management.
But wait for it...wait for it...yeah, there's an app for that!
Following in the footsteps of small innovations that solve big problems, Louisville-based entrepreneur Jonathan Erwin and his team at Red e App have created an app that seeks to leverage mobile technology, narrowing the communications gap between large companies and their dispersed workforce.
"What you find in many companies today is that the communication with the hourly workforce is exactly the same as it was in 1978, possibly even 1938." Erwin explains. "When you have a crisis or a weather related closing, do you have a call tree or can you instantly message hourly workers with a few taps on a screen? If you aren't communicating with them where and how they communicate, you are, in essence, disenfranchising them. Technology is such that we can all do better."
Indeed, nearly 60 percent of Americans today own a smartphone and 47 percent of U.S. adults admit to a smartphone "addiction." If we're spending so much time using our mobile technology, then it would certainly make sense to have access to applications that make a difference in our work lives - beyond a coffee shop app for night owls and those who work the midnight shifts.
With Red e App, employees simply download the app to their smartphones (or tablets) and enter their employer-provided pin. The app provides them with an inbox, which allows only for internal communication. Red e App's secure enterprise platform allows employers to push communications and essential messaging to employees without the risks or costs associated with providing internal email accounts. Unlike traditional email accounts, there's no "reply all" feature and managers can control who each employee can send messages to, which keeps responses directed to the sender and out of everyone else's inbox.
The app also encrypts its data and all documents stored within the system, providing employers with the ability to remotely wipe an individual's Red e App content upon their removal from the system. Plus, the app uses time stamps and read receipts to record and measure all user activities.
"Companies need to know more than just the fact a message was posted on a bulletin board or to passed along during a staff meeting," Erwin says. "They need to know that the employees actually viewed and read the message. This helps many companies stay compliant with regulations, but also truly measure their internal communications."
We've seen great advancements in technology within just the last decade, and it's no secret that innovation has a long history of bringing positive changes to every facet of our lives. In fact, the way we communicate with each other has completely changed, due in part to the advent of mobile technologies that make instant conversations across great distances a reality.
Strangely enough, it can be difficult to find connection in such a connected world. However, communication - the ability to convey thoughts and ideas to another - is a part of what makes us human, so who wouldn't want access to applications that make that particular aspect of humanity easier and more accessible?
Especially in the workplace.