The Future of Frontline Work: Beekeeper 2.0 and the Connected Worker

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Welcome to the future of frontline work. 

As we announced in early July 2020, Beekeeper’s Series B funding round now totals $60M. This money has supported a bold new evolution of our platform. We’re helping innovative leaders create the frontline workplace of the future, now. We’re calling this evolution Beekeeper 2.0. 

Pandemics bring change. They teach us about ourselves and our working practices, and they accelerate technological developments. Like this latest one! While most desk workers could easily work remotely, supported by specialized software, frontline workers had to continue going into work and remained largely disconnected. For many employers, this resulted in increased health and safety risks, spiraling costs, understaffed operations, and a demotivated and confused workforce.

As a company that provides a platform for frontline workers, we’ve often wondered at the difference in investment across desk-based and non desk workers. Frontline workers represent 80% of the global workforce, yet only 1% of enterprise software funding is directed towards them. Frontline workers determine customer experience. They make the products you sell. They sell the products you make. They are responsible, ultimately, for whether or not your company survives. 

And yet  the need for connectivity on the front line has been relatively unmet. It’s been seen as a “nice to have” instead of a vital ingredient in a recipe for organizational success. That is, until now!

In this context, we’ve become laser-focused on what exactly it means to digitally enable the frontline workforce for the future of work. Beekeeper 2.0 prioritizes efficiency, agility, and fast time-to-market with essential information.

We’ve identified four key steps most companies must take on the path to the frontline workplace of the future: 

  • Reach and Connect
  • Digitize
  • Automate
  • Optimize

These steps may happen chronologically, or they may progress at different speeds in different areas of the organization. For example, some processes may already be fully digitized and automated, whereas others (often those on the front line) may still happen largely on paper. Analysts predict that companies who move to digitize, automate and optimize frontline processes will emerge as the leaders of the coming decade.

Read on for more details about how exactly our product has evolved to enable these steps, and how companies can make the most of innovative digital technologies for their frontline workforce. 

Step 1: Reach & Connect

When your frontline workers are reachable via a single platform, safety protocols, emergency announcements and new processes become a lot easier to coordinate and implement.

This first step is all about communication. This is where we started out, and it remains the core value driver of any employee app. With Beekeeper, many companies with majority frontline employees were, for the first time, able to reach and connect their entire workforce on a single platform. 

While some early adopters have been reaching and connecting with Beekeeper since 2012, the recent coronavirus crisis has greatly accelerated the adoption of digital solutions to reach frontline teams. Companies need to communicate about schedules and procedures that are changing almost daily. With social distancing guidelines, you can’t have staff congregating around a bulletin board to find information. The ability to reach your entire workforce instantly is now no longer a nice-to-have: it is a must have. 

Reach and Connect 2.0

It’s great to have your entire workforce on one platform. But what happens if that workforce is multinational? How do you handle translations? And in any workforce, there will be plenty of valuable employees who find it difficult to access written content, for example due to visual impairments or dyslexia. 

The next phase of Reach and Connect caters to every single employee, regardless of language or reading ability. 

Breaking down barriers to access brings huge business benefits. If content is accessible to all, safety procedures are followed more closely, non-routine work is handled more efficiently, and language is no longer a barrier to collaboration and engagement in multinational or multicultural teams. Employees who may have previously thought that digital tools were “not for people like them” find out that, in fact, they are. 

As part of Beekeeper 2.0, we’ve invested in accessibility across three pillars: visual, audio and language.

Visual: Home, New User Interface, and Accessibility Tools

  • Home: a new entry-point that brings together everything a frontline worker needs to work efficiently into one screen. Home currently contains widgets for the company’s news streams and essential ‘shortcuts’, providing fast mobile access to relevant protocols, tools, and data. It will soon be able to pull in additional data from third-party systems, tailored to the needs of specific industries and users. 
  • Brand new user interfaces on web and mobile: simple, modern, clean, and readable, with higher color contrast and larger font sizes and spacing.
  • Simplified icons and greater visual hierarchy across the entire platform for quick and easy reading.
  • Help for administrators customizing their company app colors: the platform automatically suggests high-contrast options based on the chosen color to ensure your company’s brand colors remain accessible and readable. 

Audio: Voice Messaging

  • Voice messages help employees get their message across faster while on the job. This is a popular communication method for those who prefer not to write, or need to work with their hands. 

Language: Inline Translations and New Interface Languages

  • Inline translations for chat messages, Campaigns, and Surveys ensure that all employees can receive information on Beekeeper in their native language. This increases response rates, allows multicultural teams to work faster without copy-pasting messages through Google Translate, and ensures all employees can fully understand and confirm reading critical information.
  • We now support English, German, French, and Spanish in the user interface for administrators, making it easier for international teams to manage the platform. Dozens of languages are already supported in the user interface in the mobile and web apps, and Inline Translations can translate written content into 100+ languages.

Step 2: Digitize

Digitizing processes saves time for your teams and creates valuable data that you can use to optimize these processes further down the line. 

This second step is where technology starts driving tangible business value. By digitizing information-intensive processes, costs can be cut by up to 90% and turnaround times improved by several orders of magnitude, according to this McKinsey study

Moving common business processes from paper to digital also allows data to be more easily collected for further improvements – we’ll get into these further down in Steps 3 and 4. In the current climate, digitization can also significantly increase workforce safety by reducing physical contact with paper forms and documents. 

Digitize 2.0

The digital technology landscape for frontline workforces is fragmented and complicated. There are task management tools, shift scheduling tools, HRIS platforms, e-learning tools, ERP systems, crisis management tools, and even desk-worker intranet and document management tech that has its own landscape of apps. If you think that sounds a bit complex, that’s because it is. 

While each of these technologies is excellent at digitizing its own little piece of the puzzle, it is hard to find one platform where they can all come together. Enter Beekeeper 2.0. 

Over the past 18 months, we’ve created a suite of features that serve many of these common digitization use cases – not to compete with the best-of-breed solutions already on offer, but to augment them and bring them together into a single access point. All of these features can be used as built-in solutions with templates from Beekeeper, or integrated with your existing technology to launch your business processes into Step 3: Automate. They are:

Document Library

  • The Document Library provides a single access point to all the latest and most relevant documents frontline workers need, saving valuable time in a hectic workday. 
  • Customers can store employee handbooks, instruction manuals, site plans, menus, hygiene protocols, safety procedures, and more in the Library, and customize access based on department or role. 

Shift Schedules

  • Shift Schedules are easily visible to employees and are available digitally at any time, removing the need for employees to physically go into work to check the latest schedule. 
  • Administrators can easily upload the latest schedule as an excel file and deliver notifications to employees as soon as their new shifts have been allocated. 
  • Shift Schedules in Beekeeper reduce miscommunication and help employers to keep their workforce productive by covering every shift. 

Forms

  • Digital forms support common recurring business processes such as equipment requests, training attendance, near miss reporting, improvement suggestions and many more!
  • Benefit from best practices by using our extensive template library, or convert your current paper forms to digital. 

Packages & Templates

  • Best practices are constantly evolving, led by industry experts. Beekeeper 2.0 can make the latest best practices widespread, fast. 
  • With templated Surveys, Information Campaigns, Forms, and more, Beekeeper can now be set up or expanded with content to manage the coronavirus crisis, return to work, or support best practices in major industries. 

Step 3. Automate

Employees each waste on average 3 hours a week looking for the information they need to do their job. Automation and integrations make it so easy, they don’t even need to look. 

After digitizing certain business processes, the next step is to start supercharging workflows with automation. In any enterprise digitization project, this is where the real returns start appearing. By integrating systems and automating workflows deeper into business processes, organizations can reduce manual administrative effort, save valuable time, and deliver the right information at the right time to the right people. 

Automate 2.0

Automation requires flexibility in order to cater to specific business needs. While some organizations use very similar tools and would benefit from out-of-the-box integrations, others have very specific technology requirements or prefer to be more creative with their workflows. 

Automating data flows into and out of Beekeeper can save HR and IT professionals hours of time each week by reducing administrative effort and automatically scaling workflows such as user management, FAQs, and onboarding.

Beekeeper 2.0 is built for the ecosystem, with plug-and-play connectors, open APIs, Chatbots, and integrations with tools that allow for flexibility.

Out-of-the-Box Integrations

Beekeeper 2.0 delivers no shortage of new plug-and-play integrations to streamline and automate your digital workflows:

  • SharePoint: Sync files from SharePoint to Beekeeper’s Document Library
  • Kronos Workforce Ready: Sync shifts from Kronos to Beekeeper’s Shift Schedules
  • New user sync integrations and partnerships with popular HRIS platforms Ceridian Dayforce and Ultimate
  • Innovation partnership and integration with up-and-coming checklist tool, Lua
  • Operational checklists and workflows with Checkproof
  • Mobile-first microlearning and training with MobieTrain and Coursepath
  • Employee engagement and surveys with Betterworks Engage and Butterfly.ai

Browse these and many more out-of-the-box integrations in the Beekeeper Marketplace.

Chatbots

  • New custom FAQ chatbots allow frontline teams to find answers to their questions on demand, on mobile, in any language. 
  • Customers control their own chatbot and can get metrics on unanswered questions, so they can continuously improve its knowledge base.
  • Other out-of-the-box chatbots are also available: one answers coronavirus FAQs on demand from a knowledge base of Johns Hopkins and WHO information. The other searches the Beekeeper Help Center for answers to FAQs about how to use the app.

Zapier

Zapier is a cloud based workflow tool, where you can build your own automated integrations between 2000+ tools without writing a single line of code. Here are just a few examples of what you can achieve with Beekeeper, Zapier, and the Cloud.

  • Take your Beekeeper forms to the next level: deliver forms submitted via Beekeeper as an email, into a spreadsheet, or send to any other Zapier-supported tool or software. 
  • Duplicate your company’s Twitter and Facebook content for your internal audience.
  • Update your in-app shortcuts to important resources directly from OneDrive.
  • Create Zoom and Hangouts video conferences from within Beekeeper Chats.

Developer Tools

  • Make the most of our open REST API to connect Beekeeper to any internal tools, intranets, and ERP or HRIS systems.
  • Use authenticated links to log in securely from Beekeeper into any other systems (i.e. to access payslips or training tools). 
  • Use webhooks to build your own real-time chat integrations.

Step 4. Optimize

Optimize is the final step towards creating the future of the frontline workplace. How should companies best utilize the data they gather from digitizing their processes? How can they tailor and streamline their workflows to be as efficient as possible, while keeping their workforce happy and able to perform their best work? The answer lies in smart usage of data and analytics. 

Beekeeper’s Analytics Dashboard shows a wide variety of engagement and usage charts. Surveys and Campaigns provide a detailed break-down of readership statistics and responses. While this is more than enough to keep any internal communications team happy, there is always room for improvement…

Optimize 2.0

With the new Home screen, Beekeeper is opening up the possibilities for smart, relevant, real-time data to be surfaced to the people who need to see it. Imagine picking up your phone as a line manager in a retail store and seeing the latest sales figures alongside a quick contact option for your most-contacted team members. Imagine having the power to drive more revenue that day with a few simple instructions from your mobile device. With a specialized Home widget, this possibility becomes a reality. 

Home will evolve over the coming months to surface the data and information each user needs, when they need it. Every user’s view of Home will be a little different, with information that is tailored and relevant to them in that moment, based on their most-used apps, their role, and the people they contact most frequently. This will allow team leads to optimize how they motivate and engage their teams with relevant information in every moment. 

Happy mechanical engineers holding digital tablet by car chassis at factory. Smiling colleagues are standing by car part at automobile industry. They are wearing reflective clothing.
Frontline digital enablement leads to higher levels of engagement, greater efficiency and better-quality products and services. Digital tools for frontline workers will expand, merge and become a vibrant connected ecosystem over the coming years.

The Next Decade

Looking into the future, we see a clear path toward more efficient, safer, and adaptable working practices for frontline teams. Companies’ adoption of mobile frontline technology shows no sign of slowing down: our bet is on the decade 2021-2030 becoming the decade of frontline digital enablement. 

The leaders of this next decade will adapt their working practices, adopt digital technologies beyond head office, and thrive in the new fast-changing world.

Platforms such as Beekeeper will help companies create the workplace of the future for their frontline employees, finally bringing them up to speed with their desk-based colleagues. This development will allow innovative companies to press new value levers; to go deeper into their business processes, to become more efficient, go faster-to-market with best practices and critical information, and keep their workforce engaged, safe, and performing to the best of their ability. 

We’re excited to accompany them on the journey. 

Have you tried Beekeeper yet? Chat with an expert to learn more about the essential platform for frontline workers. 

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