The vast majority of modern employees cannot do their jobs without a smart phone. Well, that might not be entirely accurate — many of us could maybe do our jobs without a smart phone, we just wouldn’t be as good at those jobs. Or as efficient. Or as reliable.
Smart phones enable employees to perform a whole host of work functions from anywhere they get cellular signal or a data connection; this allows the majority of this country to be an office if necessary. And as email and other forms of digital communication have become more and more integral to conducting business in the 21st century, there have been some unintended consequences.
First, because a smart phone can do almost everything a computer can, so long as you’re carrying one, many employers expect you to be reachable on it. To take it a step further, some of those same companies expect you to be willing/able to jump on an urgent request at all hours of the day and night. Most good managers and their respective companies try not to do this to their employees, but being “always on/always available” is an inevitable consequence of making the smart phone so good at allowing people to do work anywhere.
The second consequence of mobile’s ubiquity within the business world is what we call “notification overload” — a subject Copper Mobile was interviewed about for a recent article in CNET. In the way desktop/laptop computers get slammed with email all day (most of which are synced to one’s cell phone), the smart phone presents another layer of sensory overload.
In addition to receiving every email throughout your day on your cell phone, most of the mobile apps you use will send you push (or pull) notifications. Whether that’s a messaging app like Slack or Hipchat, a CMS system like SalesForce, your personal profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, task apps like Wunderlist, project management software, weather apps, or any other kind of app you use on your phone, with so many different apps competing for your eyeballs and interaction time, push notifications have run roughshod over the mobile ecosystem.
To do their jobs effectively, employees must navigate through more and more of these notifications every passing day. As such, the best apps have moved a huge portion of their user interface to the mobile battleground of the future — the lock screen.
Whenever we get a notification, we see that notification on the lock screen. Used to be, you saw the notification, opened the phone, navigated to the specific app and then acted on the notification once you found it within the app. Then, along came deep linking, which allowed you to navigate directly to the app in question from the lock screen without having the middle steps of unlocking the phone, navigating to the app and then finding the content within the app.
The mobile battleground of the future is precisely there — the lock screen.
With so many notifications coming our way every minute, being able to perform a few basic actions from the lock screen saves countless amounts of time, money and frustration. If you are pinged with an email, you should be able to delete it directly from the lock screen withiout having to go into your phone, much less open Outlook or Gmail. Likewise, you should be able to pin that email for a followup, or swipe on the notification to be taken directly to the text within that email instead of just into your email application.
The same type of flexibility ought to exist for every app, and the smarter companies and their developers are already proving their productivity bona fides on the lock screen every day. Clickable, deep-linked notifications, common user action options (like deleting an email, ignoring a text, etc.), are all showing up on the lock screen so employees can continue about their days as quickly and efficiently as a smart phone ought to enable one to do so.
Anything companies can do to equip employees with control over those employees’ notifications is a good thing. Notifications are integral to many jobs, and one of the primary keys to preventing notification overload lies within harnassing that lock screen in service of the end user.