Back From the Dead: How QR Codes are Being Used for Customer and Employee Communications
— March 27th, 2023
Many things go in and out of fashion, but few technological innovations return after being killed off in the court of public and expert opinion.
Fewer still come back being used more extensively, and more effectively, and for many more uses, than their first spin on the merry-go-round. That’s the remarkable story of QR codes.
While it’s hard to avoid them these days—restaurant menus, digital signs, magazines, feedback collection, contactless hotel check-in, etc.—back in 2011 you could read articles headlined 5 Reasons for the Death of QR Codes, and Business Insider’s report: Google Kills Off Those Little Square Codes You Scan with Your Phone.
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But, of course, those squiggly little squares were far from dead and returned with a vengeance during the pandemic. Who would have thought that reluctance to touch public-facing objects, for fear of contracting COVID-19, would have sparked the renaissance of something many had consigned to the tech scrapheap?
While the desire for contactless information drove the resurgence—and is still an important factor—convenience, speed, and simplicity of use, combined with immense versatility, have supercharged QR code success.
Smart and progressive companies recognize the benefits and advantages of using QR codes for both their customer and employee communications, and workplace experience—making an integrated omnichannel platform like Poppulo Harmony perfect to deliver these benefits.
Internal Communication professionals love QR codes because they are:
- Simple to use
- Incredibly cheap, requiring no investment in new technology
- Loaded with analytics for engagement feedback
In so many ways, QR codes are the easiest and fastest way to get the information you need, whether you are a customer or an employee. Point your smartphone, scan the code, and get your information.
No searching or scrolling, it takes the user directly where they want to go—exactly what people want in their busy lives.
While the advantages and multiple uses of QR codes by companies are most obvious in how they use them for customer interaction and engagement, many organizations—Poppulo included—are also reaping the benefits of using them for their workplace and employee communications.
It makes sense: employees are consumers and if their lives are made more convenient by QR codes outside work, whether it’s ordering a meal or instantly getting more information on a company or product, why shouldn’t the same apply at work?
Just as employees now demand consumer-grade internal communications technology to replicate what they enjoy in their personal lives, they want the convenience of QR codes at work to quickly get the information they need, or even contactless check-in to the office just as they would at a hotel.
Indeed, at Poppulo we use QR codes on our own Harmony employee comms and workplace experience platform to remotely book desks and meeting rooms, as well as intuitive wayfinding through digital signage when we’re working from any of our offices.
For Internal Communicators, QR codes are proving to be another highly useful tool in their omnichannel strategy to reach and engage all employees, whether they’re office-based, remote, working hybrid, or in hard-to-reach locations like warehouses or factory production floors.
In addition to using QR codes for desk and meeting room booking here at Poppulo, our internal comms team can also include them in our weekly newsletter to all employees, pop:NEWS.
The codes take the user straight to the information you want to give them, and they want to get, on something they almost always have on them—their phone.
It should be noted that not all QR codes have the same levels of flexibility and versatility. The basic variety that you see everywhere are known as Static QR codes and as the name suggests, the information they link out to is a static data set that cannot easily be changed.
With Dynamic QR codes, on the other hand, information can be changed quickly and they are better suited if the information being linked to needs frequent updating, whether that's a restaurant menu or a new company initiative.
In the workplace, the uses and benefits of QR codes are almost as limitless as they are for customer-facing connection and engagement, but here are some examples:
- Employee feedback collection and engagement—In addition to giving people a way of relaying feedback to the company, when people scan the QR code it gives communicators valuable usage and engagement insights. (Think of all the data Coinbase got from their Superbowl QR code ad in 2022 and you get an idea of the role QR codes can play in employee engagement data).
- Training—for example, health and safety. Following a breach or an accident, an alert could be posted on a digital screen with a QR code linking people directly to a health and safety video
- Location-specific updates on digital screens and/or posters. The easy generation of different QR codes for different geographies and audiences ensures that different cohorts get information that is relevant to them.
- Employee attendance—contactless time and attendance tracking by a simple scan of a QR code also has the benefit of reducing administrative overheads
- HR announcements—QR codes can be used for HR communications, such as benefits information or job postings. For example, a QR code on digital signs in the canteen or coffee dock could direct employees to the company intranet with more information on open vacancies or benefits
As mentioned above, these are just a few examples of how versatile and effective QR codes can be in the workplace, and there’s every indication that they’re going to be used even more for employee comms.
COVID-19 might have lit the QR fuse for businesses—Bitly reported a 750% rise in usage 18 months into the pandemic—but the growth curve continues to point upwards. Research by Insider Intelligence predicts that, in the US alone, QR code scanning will increase to just under 100 million a year by 2025, up 19% from 2022.
While no similar data currently exists for employee comms and workplace usage, one thing is for sure: QR codes are not only back from the dead, they're back with a bang.
- If you want to learn more about how others are using QR codes for internal/external communication just get in touch and we’d be delighted to talk to you.