Technology is continuing to make waves in the modern digital workplace. Offices look very different to how they did ten years ago – some companies don’t even need a set office space as they run their business entirely from mobile devices. Most offices now use digital workspace to a certain extent – at the very least, moving various operations to the cloud.
There are many benefits to this increasingly digital workplace – it improves efficiency, increases interaction and boosts employee engagement. Employee engagement should be at the helm of this, because a digital workplace is not a technology or a ‘thing’ – employee experience is at the centre of the digital marketplace.
The excitement of new technology is often focused on how to continually improve the experience for the customers. However, your employees should be your first customer – employee experience leads to customer experience, it’s a supply chain. You need to let your employees use the technology that they need. This will result in your employees being happier when their working life is made more flexible and easier to manage and you will see the benefits to your bottom-line with an increase in productivity and employee retention.
Plan your digital workplace with your employees
The whole employee experience can be improved using digital workplace solutions. These solutions are focused on time-saving and making communications and work environments easier for employees. With the rise in remote working, employees today generally want to use the same kinds of app-based devices at work that they use in the home and so companies need to meet the demand for this.
This needs to be a holistic approach – all departments within a company can benefit from advancements in virtual meeting tools, HR processes, instant messaging, enterprise social media networking and push notifications to name a few.
Organising the workflow across different tools and resources between remote and office employees and different collaborating teams brings exciting opportunities. Getting the most out of the digital workplace in order to retain maximum employee engagement takes some structure and planning. Digital workplaces should also be flexible to deal with new future trends and changes in technology.
Companies need to utilise the employees who have the experience and the expertise about the specific workflows they handle in order to optimise the processes and tools used in the digital workplace. By designing a digital workplace with your employees, it not only empowers them, it motivates the whole company. There will also be opportunities for employees to learn, train and develop their digital skills – again, adding to employee engagement.
Boost your brand and gain a competitive advantage
This digital approach also benefits the company brand. Your employees are a large part of the company brand. Due to social media and rights campaigns, it is easy for the public and potential hires, to see your brand culture. Your brand is more likely to be seen, respected and trusted and you are more likely to have new talent wanting to be part of your team.
Engaged employees within a digital workplace will be happier and they will promote your company favourably. This is crucial when a company is having a brand crisis. Your employees will add tremendous value as they have the institutional knowledge needed and they are vital to understanding the impact of potential changes on the brand.
RBS is an extreme case which has been considered a ‘toxic brand’, but has since prioritised and invested in employee engagement, knowing that is imperative to building trust. In doing so, RBS received an award for its employee engagement nearly ten years after its near-collapse. Cliff Ettridge, a senior branding expert at The Team, helps brands to realise that their brand can only be successful when every employee buys into how why and what the company does:
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‘RBS and BP have been there, and in hindsight know that investing in people is essential to protect the brand. Every brand needs to look at how they are engaging hearts and minds. Look at Donna Carpenter at Burtons Snowboards, who paid for employees to attend the Women’s march. Brands like this are building invaluable relevant relationships with employees.’
Create a flexible work environment
Flexible work environments have fast become the norm in the corporate world with banks such as Barclays rotating desks and telling staff to work one day a week at home. This is wholly enabled by a digital workplace – video conferencing and digital collaboration – and it’s a good thing for employee engagement.
Lower levels of stress are reported, higher morale, less sick days and increased productivity. Working from home and video conferencing has become so familiar the potential home interruptions such as a dog barking are not seen as awkward – employees are being seen as ‘people’ within the digital workplace – not just employees.
Trial employee experience apps
Another emerging digital workplace trend has been that of the mobile employee experience apps. These are digital tools that can be accessed anywhere. With this shift towards a more flexible workplace, employee experience apps will enable employees to have greater control over when and where they work.
For instance, with a mobile app, an employee can continue to work if their laptop crashes, calling in the IT dept to fix it from the app. They can also check and schedule things from their app even if they are sitting in a boardroom waiting for a meeting to begin.
With the development of this 24/7 access to work and proliferation of digital devices, employers will have to make sure that their employees are taking digital breaks throughout the day, or this easier access could be detrimental to their health.
It is important to understand that even though workplaces are becoming digital, brands need to make the effort to behave more humanely. There is a reason that advances in technology are trying to humanise the customer experience with chatbots and messenger bots.
The digital workplace is exciting and inspirational – it is constantly moving forward without slowing down, which means that companies have to accept this and let it fuel employee engagement processes going forward. Utilising the digital workplace for employee engagement is the key to organisational success.