There is growing pressure to roll out digital workplace strategies. The technologies and processes deployed are often state-of-the-art, yet performance and employee productivity still lag behind. At this point, it becomes clear how important it is to get the employees on board with regard to a digital work culture. The following article highlights the key role that employees play in any digitalization strategy.
Almost 75 percent of European IT and HR Managers who took part in PAC’s Digital Workplace in Europe survey believe that the quality of the working environment has a strong influence on, and is even vital to, the success of their business. But what happens if the working environment changes from one day to the next? Over the last few weeks, companies have worked flat out to enable remote working, and the majority of employees have had to get used to a new workplace. This has not been straightforward for every employee, and many have been left disgruntled rather than enthusiastic. Some find it difficult to get used to the new way of working, others say they lack an emotional connection. For the affected companies, this can have a significant impact if they are losing out on valuable potential.
There are many reasons for resistance to change. Some people approach new things with skepticism, and they don’t necessarily see the benefits of changing the way in which they work. Some feel overwhelmed or left to cope with their new working environment alone. Others fear that their workload will increase and that they’ll need to take additional time to get up to speed. Quite often, any hurdles to overcome are down to the variety of functions and the complexity that the new working environment entails.
Christian Bredlow, founder and CEO of the agency Digital Mindset, is well aware of the importance of getting the workforce on board: “Every digital workplace, every social intranet, and every digitalization project will ultimately be judged by the degree to which users buy in to the new platform.”
“Implementing the digital workplace successfully in the long term will require investment in the employees’ digital mindset, as the technology is only as efficient as the employees who use it. In my view, three factors are essential to making remote working a success: the technology, the platform, and the person.”
Digital Workplace Sales, CHG-MERIDIAN AG
From the outset, the focus of CHG-MERIDIAN’s remote-working strategy was on our employees and their individual requirements. We assumed that the switch from the traditional to the digital workplace would require a certain amount of familiarization, and our main goal was to provide an environment in which our colleagues could learn to use the technology with confidence and feel motivated to work. To facilitate this, we have introduced a flexible working time model that enables our employees to choose when and where to work.
We have also set up interactive e-learning platforms offering online training, FAQs, and how-to videos. An internal team of experts moderates the classes and is on hand to help via live chat. And we still offer analog professional development options, as every employee has their preferred method of learning. Last year, for example, we came up with the idea of a digital workplace café where employees can meet our digital workplace experts for a chat over a cup of tea or coffee.
And there are many more ways of fostering a digital mindset. KAEFER, for example, is encouraging its staff to engage in self-learning through play (gamification). “We want our employees to be self-motivated when there are new challenges to be tackled and not to have to wait for training to be prescribed,” says CIO Oestmann.
Companies that want to accelerate digital processes and improve their business outcomes should keep an eye on the workplace experience and thus on their employees’ motivation. In this context, we mean the value of the experience offered by the digital workplace. According to psychology professor Dr. Marc Hassenzahl, this includes the need for self-determined action (autonomy), for experiencing something new (stimulation), and for respect and appreciation (popularity).
A good user experience is a key factor in creating value and achieving success. Management consultancy Korn Ferry estimates that productivity is 18 percent higher in companies with strong commitment levels, while revenue growth is two and a half times bigger and profits are twice as high.
The decisive factor in achieving a continuous user experience is an uninterrupted chain of experiences throughout the device lifecycle. Read on to learn how this might work:
To create a solid foundation for the UX, companies must allow employees to choose their equipment from a pre-defined shopping cart, rather than assigning hardware to them. After all, employees know best which devices are the most useful for their tasks. The easiest and most cost-effective way to do this is via a self-service portal with individual employee accounts and a shopping cart function. It allows users to configure their workplace and order their equipment themselves, increasing user satisfaction and reducing the burden on procurement and IT.
The provisioning of end devices can also be made into an experience, for example through attractive packaging (unboxing effect) or rollout events. If not pre-configured, then each device should be easy and quick to set up. Options for achieving this range from how-to videos and set-up assistants to automated configuration via managed desktop or enterprise mobility solutions.
Using technology requires the right skill set, and there is a constant flow of new products on the market. That is why proactively offering tips and advice to employees to help with their day-to-day tasks can make it easier for them to get to grips with the digital workplace. How do I switch between monitors? How do I enter presentation mode? How can I transfer conference calls from my smartphone to my desktop PC, or vice versa, without losing the connection? There are many ways to share such information, including knowledge portals, newsletters, podcasts, and even hosted themed events.
Users want to work with equipment that is appropriate for their tasks, and they also expect their business devices to be at least as technologically advanced as their personal ones (Unisys). That is why it is important that the digital workplace can be flexibly expanded, modified, and modernized, for example through proactive, job-specific add/change options that immediately add the hardware to the employee’s shopping cart on the self-service portal. Informing users of the advantages of each hardware item further increases satisfaction levels