How to Implement Power Apps for Remote Working Requests

The remote working movement has emphasised the importance of automating outdated business processes, especially those historically managed via paper or email approvals. For many organisations old processes have needed to evolve and new policies and procedures have been put in place – this is where business process automation (and Power Apps) can help.

What is Power Apps?

Power Apps is essentially a Platform as a Service that enables business process automation by building custom-made apps that connect to your data stored in an underlying data platform or via other data sources like SharePoint, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 or SQL Server. 

Power Apps are intuitive to use and, and with expert support, quick to implement. They can include approvals and validations that paper forms cannot, like those required in timesheeting. It enables managers to work with service providers to create feature-rich apps that tick multiple boxes, without relying on complex coding i.e. ‘low code/no code’, explained here.

How to implement Power Apps for Remote Working

We shared some examples of Power Apps we’ve built that can help your business to automate common processes here. These include automation of COVID compliance and return to work staffing requirements, web order picking and shipping; and automation of purchase orders and expense management - to name a few.

In this week's blog we’ll outline the specifics of how to implement a Remote Working App in order to automate the process of managing staff working in and out of the office.

The business case we’ll use is from Munro Footwear Group, Australia’s largest wholesaler/retailer of footwear that we implemented this solution for.

Watch this video for an in depth overview of the Remote Working App.

The Business Case:

The business wanted to implement a remote working policy and process so that all employees could request the hours they preferred to work remotely and in-office.

They needed to ensure the solution would support 200 employees, and that it would be business policy compliant, OHS compliant and HR compliant, as well as ensuring an intuitive approval gate.

It was important that the process could be easily managed by line managers and department heads. HR and OHS also needed to be able to oversee the process and report to the executive team as to the progress of the roll out.

The Remote Working App Workflow:

Screenshot of the remote working power app overview

Step 1 - Employee Request

The employee accesses the app on a mobile device or on a PC in order to complete their request by answering a series of questions. The questions are a combination of those requiring both text, and ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers 

Then the employee enters the days and times that they will work in the office and work remotely each week. For example, an employee can request to work remotely for Fridays. The app checks the total hours worked and matches it to 38 hours. Alternatively, if the employee works part-time, the app will factor in part-time hours.

When the employee has completed their application they’ll press submit and then agree to the declaration. The application will then change to a ‘pending’ status and the employee receives an email advising them that the application has been submitted.

Screetshot of the remote working power app - remote working agreement - showing questions employees are asked to complete

Step 2 - Manager Approvals & Re-negotiation

The line manager receives an automated email that advises them a consultation with the employee is now required. When the line manager opens the email they can see all of the applications that require them to take action. The manager will then open the application and review.

The manager can renegotiate with the employee, which will send the application back to the employee with comments or approval.

The department Manager and HR Manager are then required to review and approve the application. The employee is advised by automated email that their application has been successful.

Step 3 - Employee Required Assessment

Next, the employee needs to complete an Ergonomic Assessment of their remote workspace. Again, the employee needs to answer questions about their remote working environment. This form has a number of ‘yes’/‘no’ questions including some questions with multiple choice options.

The employee is required to take at least two photos of their remote workstation, which is easy using the app on a mobile device. The employee is required to agree to a declaration and then the application is submitted. 

Step 4 - Assessment Approvals

The Ergonomic Assessment is again required to be approved by the line manager and then the work Health and Safety Officer.

screenshot of the automated email sent from HR via the Power App approving the Remote Working Request

Step 5 - Updating Team Calendar

Once both the work schedule and Ergonomic Assessment are approved, the line manager is asked to enter the effective start date and then the employee can update the calendar so that days the employee is working remotely are shown in their office calendar for other team members to view.

Screen shot of the Remote Working Power App showing the approved Weekly Schedule and hours

Step 6 - Reporting

A series of reports were built as part of the solution, these included;

  • A report showing the number of employees by department at each stage in the process
  • A calendar report accessible to all employees to show if another employee is working in the office or working remotely

HR have the added benefit of easily accessing the reports to ensure that their employees are using the tool effectively and that they are moving through the process easily.

The solution has proven to be easy to use by employees and managers and was rolled out to the business within 8 weeks with fantastic feedback.

When considering best practices for business process automation, it is important for project teams to have a pragmatic and thorough approach to the automation process. Applying a business process specialist, or someone who can deep-dive and challenge “why” processes are being done a certain way is the key to success. 

The Cloud Solutions Group expert consultants take the complexity out of building your business process automation workflow, and designing your custom-built Power App. We have designed a variety of Power Apps to suit the specific needs of a diverse range of organisations. Outdated or inefficient processes can often hinder innovation, competitive evolution or standard business operations.

Would you like to discuss automating your business processes in 2022? Schedule your discovery session with our expert team and you’ll receive a 6-pack of top selected wine!