Ask the Expert: The Digital Workplace Starts With The Employee Journey

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Employees now crave the same user experiences at work that they enjoy in their personal lives. Social media, smartphones and the seamless, anytime availability of services means your employees have drastically higher expectations for their technology experience, when compared to a few short years ago. Which is why enabling a digital workplace is so essential in the modern enterprise.

Enterprise organizations willing to meet these new employee expectations within the workplace stand to become more innovative, agile, and better equipped to survive market forces and thrive.

According to an MIT study, digitally mature businesses, with engaged employees, enjoy 26% greater profitability, 12% higher market valuation and 9% more revenue when compared to peers. The possibilities are certainly tantalizing.

So, what’s the secret to launching a digital workplace initiative to achieve or surpass these great results?

We recently caught up with Shafath Syed, our Senior Director of End User Solutions, to discuss just that. During our conversation, Shafath outlined strategies for helping to ensure that digital workplace efforts are sustainable and successful.

Here’s what he had to say:

Question: What are the red flags, or indicators that digital change is necessary in order for companies to remain competitive?

Shafath: The biggest red flag is a decrease in employee satisfaction levels. If employees are dissatisfied with the service that the organization is offering, the organization will suffer. Whether this manifests as service desk dissatisfaction, or employee morale levels, it’s not to be taken lightly.

The second red flag is escalating costs. This is usually due to the fact that the organization is not able to execute new projects quickly, or is incapable of scaling and implementing new digital initiatives to meet the demands of the marketplace.

Third, if your organization needs more agility to better compete in the marketplace.   

For example, just look what companies like AirBnB and Uber have done to their industries. If taxi companies had delivered an experience as great as Uber, there may not have been such a need for online transportation network companies.

Finally, if organizations are seeing higher employee turnover, this might also be due to underlying digital workplace issues and overall frustration of not being able to accomplish what they want in the Enterprise as easily or quickly as they do in their personal lives.

Question: If the workplace is no longer a “place”, what is it?

Shafath: Work is no longer about showing up at a specific location for a predetermined number of hours. Work means achieving greater employee productivity and engagement in any and every location possible.

This is all about finding a sweet spot between in-person and remote scenarios. The dynamics between employees are changing dramatically, and the styles in which professionals efficiently work are diversifying. Organizations need to define what their perfect balance is, taking various employee needs into account.

By 2020, an Emergent Research study estimates that contract and freelance workers will make up over 40% of the American workforce. Workplaces need to modernize in order to accommodate increasing numbers of these remote, nomadic workers.

There are two key steps organizations need to take in order to modernize. Ironically, the first is to determine how a physical location plays a role. Developing a “smart office” is key here. There has to be a lot of flexibility in an office space, with some desks dynamically allocated to employees based on need but also customized to maximize the work style for each employee. For example, sales professionals may need to reserve a desk for a few days, or even a few hours.  That desk needs to seamlessly integrate to the sales person’s workstyle as well as transfer back when the person goes mobile or in the field. It really depends on the specific roles of employee at your organization.

The second step is to determine how to maximize employees to provide an environment that enables productivity, collaboration and a place where employees want to be. The more organizations can empower employees to focus on their work at hand vs. troubleshooting access problems or tool requisitions, the better chance for success to increase employee productivity and satisfaction.

Question: How can professionals become a catalyst for digital change within their organization?

Shafath: Don’t try to solve all of your company’s problems at once, do it in phases.

Identify the greatest pain point to getting work done. Maybe it’s document collaboration, or file sharing. Focus on understanding that pain point, who it impacts and then come up with ways to address the problem. If you try to do everything at once, you won’t make any progress.

Build a roadmap of achievable projects, as opposed to proclaiming, “tomorrow we will have a completely digital workplace.” Demonstrate the success of each project, then you’ll have your momentum.

Question: What sort of benefits does a digital workplace offer IT departments?

Shafath: Traditionally, you would only go to IT with problems. Which means, the IT department is seen as reactive and viewed primarily as a cost center. When IT becomes a strategic player in building a digital workplace, the perception of IT is also changed. This means they can take their rightful place as a value center.

Rather than just responding, digital workplace enables IT to be proactive, talking to lines of business about their long-term problems, coming up with recommendations, and getting ahead of these challenges. Enabling greater employee productivity with technology means IT  is an agile service center that can proactively address current needs as well as solve future ones as the Enterprise expands.

Historically when employees were not satisfied, HR would know about it first. Frustrated, they would then go to IT demanding a fix. By shifting the psychology and mission of IT to be proactive, these professionals can cross departmental silos, hearing about problems in real-time, alleviating problems before they ever escalate to a boiling point.

Question: Do you have any thought starters for defining the employee journey as organizations embark on digital change?

Shafath: We hear from many organizations that employee onboarding is a challenging and often painful process for employees. Because this involves IT, HR, admin and other operations functions it’s a great place to start implementing digital workplace best practices. Especially as organizations are growing rapidly, getting talent in the door smoothly and immediately productive are top challenges. 

From the time that your company extends an offer, to the time your new employee steps through the door on day one, the onboarding process should be streamlined, seamless and reinforce why the company is a great place to work. Everyone wants employees to be productive as quickly as possible. Everyone wants the onboarding process to be pain free. Map everything that’s possible if you really drive efficiency throughout the process.  At the heart, digital workplace represents the best of productivity as long as the organization breaks down the barriers that inhibit growth.  

Question: Today, employees are constantly distracted by incoming emails, IMs, meetings and other digital signals. How can building a digital workplace improve focus and increase productivity?

Shafath: When technology is used wisely it can alleviate everyone’s daily grind. When it’s thrown at employees without a plan, technology will only make things worse.

Team collaboration tools are a great example of this. New chat-based tools can dramatically reduce the number of emails employees must field without losing productivity. But, if employees are expected to email just as much as they did before and chat, it’s just another barrier to productivity. That’s why the key is introducing technology and processes that simplify communication and digital work overall.

A digital workplace can improve employee focus and productivity by giving leadership benchmarks and new measurement tools. When introducing digital workplace features like chat, leadership can track whether these changes are in fact improving productivity.

Are you looking to improve employee engagement and increase productivity at your workplace? Download our new eBook, Mission: Launch a Digital Workplace, Countdown to Accelerating Employee Engagement and Productivity . Filled with tips from top futurists and thinkers like Paul Miller, CEO of Digital Workplace Group, this eBook will equip you with the knowledge and processes necessary for getting a digital workplace initiative off the ground.

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BMC Software

BMC Software

BMC is a global leader in software solutions that help IT transform traditional businesses into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. Our Digital Enterprise Management set of IT solutions is designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized. From mainframe to mobile to cloud and beyond, we pair high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization—allowing our customers to provide intuitive user experiences with optimized performance, cost, compliance, and productivity. BMC solutions serve more than 15,000 customers worldwide including 82 percent of the Fortune 500.