How many different tools does your company use to handle things around the office? One system for booking meeting rooms, another one to register visitors, yet another for messaging colleagues… I could go on for a while. We’re guilty of this here at TQ, too, and sometimes things can get pretty tedious.
Fortunately for us, one Dutch scale-up is working to make office life a whole lot simpler. Founded in 2014 by Thijs van der Burgt, Office App is a smartphone app that integrates the office tools you already use, plus a few handy custom-made features, into one neat platform. From booking parking spots with Keyprocessor to checking the delivery status of your package with MyPup or ordering lunch at your local restaurant, there's not much the app can't do.
Apart from making the office an all-round more pleasant place to work for professionals, Office App also has a strong selling point for real estate owners. It allows them to measure different metrics about their building and the behavior of people who work in it: From the number of employees in the office to how fast the lunch line is moving along. Analyzing data will get even easier for landlords next year when Office App launches their brand new data dashboard.
An all-in-one app for office management
While some of the tools the team designs are for slightly mundane activities like logging maintenance requests or door access control, they get to work on some fun and interesting features, too.
Office App's Community Specialist, Sophie Uijterschout, told me about one of her favorite projects, involving a company that was dealing with very long lunch lines. To solve this problem, Office App installed sensors in the office canteen and built a feature that allowed people to check how busy the restaurant was in real-time. With a brilliant incentive program that allocated points to people who decided to have lunch during the quiet time, the lunch conundrum was eventually resolved. Clever, right?
The scale-up is also working on bringing more work-life balance to your nine-to-five. They’re partnering with local businesses to enable services such as dry cleaning, haircuts, or car washes to be booked through the app. This leaves employees with more free time to relax instead of having to run errands.
Happy employees are more productive
The idea for creating a smart office app actually came from the founder’s disappointment with his own uninspiring workplace. When Thijs got a job at an international tech company, he was beyond excited to join a business that was all about innovation. But seeing his new office immediately brought him back down to earth.
The office was old-fashioned, the processes inefficient, and there was nothing there to make one day different from another. Thijs couldn’t stand the soul-destroying daily grind anymore so he took it upon himself to turn this let-down into a business opportunity.
Today, Office App advocates creating a friendly work environment as a win-win situation for employees, employers, and real estate owners. As Sophie explained to me, a pleasant workplace is actually essential for business success. “If people have fun and are more relaxed at work, they’re also way more productive,” she explained — 20 percent more according to this study.
And not just that: Real estate owners are seeing a direct link between making their properties more attractive to tenants, and companies extending their lease on the office.
If people have fun and are more relaxed at work, they’re also way more productive.
What sets Office App apart is the fact it makes things around the office easier, more fun, and more engaging. Professionals can use it to organize and schedule events, invite their colleagues to lunch, or play the “Who gets coffee today” game which randomly selects whose turn it is to get everyone coffee.
Landlords, on the other hand, have the ability to track data about the building which allows them to implement and test new improvements a lot faster, making the office experience better for everyone.
Building a community is the biggest challenge
What’s the hardest part about implementing Office App in office buildings? “Some people don’t have smartphones,” Sophie told me, laughing.
“But actually, the most important and most difficult part is activating the community,” she continued. For Sophie, the most rewarding moment is to see the app catch on in a new office and watch people use it in creative ways that best fit their workplace.
And even though there are still skeptics (and people with no smartphones), the idea of putting the employees more in charge of their office is quickly catching on — the app is already being used in nine countries worldwide.
With a team of 13 based in TQ and offices in London, and Toronto, Office App is quickly making boring offices a thing of the past. And frankly, they won’t be missed.
If you're reading this article, you're probably someone who’s interested in tech and startups. And, if you have a startup of your own, you might be eligible to become a resident too. Apply now — if accepted, you'll be surrounded by the best.