As we talked about in a previous post, the first step in supercharging your distributed workforce is to understand what employees need from a digital experience. There are a lot of ways this can be achieved, from conducting surveys and shadowing employees as they go
about their days to creating personas and conducting journey mapping exercises. However it’s accomplished, there’s no question that having a deep understanding of where employees are experiencing pain points and what they need to be successful is the one surefire way to create quality digital experiences that are able to meet the challenges of rapidly changing business requirements.
But then what? What comes next once you’re armed with that information?
That’s where step two of our three-step plan comes in – implementing intelligent, employee-focused technology that can simplify the work day.
It’s tempting to simply take the processes you developed for a physically-oriented workplace and create digital versions of them, but you should resist the urge at all costs - it won’t work. Success in this era of significant change calls for an entirely new approach to technology, one that gives employees the right tools, the right access to information, and the right support to develop the skills, mindsets, and behaviors they’ll need to succeed. That means an unwavering focus on putting experience before process and ensuring that each digital interaction an employee has is seamless and simplified.
Ultimately, employees need technology that’s single-mindedly designed to serve their needs.
That might sound a little obvious, but the reality is, most enterprise technology is not, in fact, designed with the experience of the average user in mind. It’s designed for power users, the handful of people who need robust functionality to serve their specialized departmental needs. That’s fine for them but it isn’t helpful for the every day users who need those systems to complete one or two routine tasks. For those users, the experience is daunting, confusing and frustrating.
Here are few foundational areas where the use of intelligent, employee-focused technology
will enable organizations to create digital experiences that support employee success throughout the storm of changing business conditions. They are relatively easy to implement, leverage existing technology investments, and they will help businesses make the small changes that lead to big wins in delivering a better digital experience for employees:
Centralized location for tasks and information
The office has always been the glue that bound the entire work experience together, the nucleus that all the other work-related rituals revolved around. This is particularly true for areas like knowledge management, where information was able to pass readily from person to person on an as-needed basis. With that no longer being the case for many employees, it’s important to create a digital equivalent. Workers still need access to information, and if they can’t turn to the coworker sitting next to them and ask a quick question, then they have to
find it somewhere.
The intranet is the perfect resource to fill this gap.
That may sound surprising, but it shouldn’t. The intranet is an ideal option for centralizing the tasks and information employees need to be effective because most organizations already have one and they’re already designed to serve as an information resource – they just aren’t being used as effectively as they could be.
You can start by aggregating tasks and information into a central location on the intranet. By giving employees a command center for everything they need to know and do, your intranet can serve as a flexible and agile platform that delivers the experiences, content, applications, and services employees need today - as well as the innovations of tomorrow. It can serve as the ideal front door to your digital workplace, and it can do so without replacing any of your existing technology.
Supercharging the intranet is a win/win for everyone. HR can be confident that employees have easy access to a single source of truth for important information and Digital Workplace and IT leaders will be glad to finally take steps toward creating an information resource that employees find useful.
A modern intranet experience can also serve as the platform for many of our other recommendations, such as …
Communicating effectively with employees – all employees, whether they return to the office, will continue to remain at home, are on the road or front lines – will be key to the success of navigating all the changes happening in workplaces today, as well as whatever comes next.
But it isn’t just a simple matter of more communication, or even more channels for communication. If anything, that’s part of the problem. Workers are inundated with communications and they desperately need help to understand what’s important and needs to be seen right away.
Imagine the impact if HR teams had an easy way to send communications - everything from the typical updates related to benefits, training opportunities, etc., to the important policy updates and wellness information that employees are desperate for. And what if they could do it outside the chaos of email where employees were sure to see them?
And what if the internal communications team could quickly and easily send targeted, contextual notifications to employees with critical updates about office closures, new safety procedures, etc. – so employees always knew what they need to pay attention to, no matter where they were?
The ease at which information can flow and be found will be a major success factor in how well organizations navigate the ongoing shifts of the workplace. The ability to foster productivity is another …
Typical service delivery methods often suffer from some historically detrimental shortcomings …
Volume – Help desks universally face rising call volumes, boxing staff into the corner
of being perpetually reactive to employee needs, with little or no time to
focus on strategic issues.
Response times – Despite the best of intentions, service desk representatives can only
respond to the constant barrage of questions and issues so quickly.
Unfortunately, it’s not usually quick enough to satisfy the expectations of a
workforce accustomed to the response times of customer-centric organizations
Siloed service centers – A lack of connection between enterprise service centers
creates a confusing and disjointed experience for employees, forcing them to
figure out on their own where to turn for help answering a question or solving
These sources of frustration for employees can be eliminated (while significantly reducing costs) by giving employees tools to handle a lot more of the typical service center tasks on their own. Chatbots are a great example because not only are they available 24/7 to answer common questions, they can assist employees in performing self-service tasks such as submitting tickets.
HR and IT departments are particularly impacted by improvements in this area, with the efficiencies achieved by both departments translating directly into cost savings. Digital workplace leaders will also find improved self-service functionality to be a win because it significantly improves a process that has historically been the source of a lot of frustration.
Some employees might be returning to their offices, but many – far more than ever before – will be remaining at home. The lucky ones will only have to worry about work as their primary responsibility, but for others, a continued encampment in their home office might also require them to juggle the hats of homeschool teacher and/or primary caregiver to children, aging family members, etc. If the plan to help those workers is to just digitize old paper-based processes, expect it to fail because it just won’t work.
The remote workers of today are balancing a lot of conflicting responsibilities and because of that, they need flexibility to work wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them. Enabling the kinds of mobile access they’ll need to tasks, information and resources will require a new way of thinking.
Some key things to think about will include:
Making sure they have seamless mobile access for everything they need to know and do,
as well as a better process for managing all of the enterprise tasks they’re responsible for
Giving them a centralized way to organize and prioritize all their tasks, both personal and from across the enterprise, so they can manage their time holistically
Simplifying complex processes, such as approvals, so they can be done quickly and easily
while on the go
Improvements like these would be a big check mark in the “DONE!” category for Digital Workplace and IT leaders who are looking to make sure every single employee always has easy access to the resources they need to operate at peak levels.
Hopefully by now your organization has replaced old-school, paper-based services with digital ones. If you haven’t yet, you might want to get on that ASAP because employees have high expectations when it comes to digital experiences. Provide the kinds of modern, intelligent experiences they need, and you’ll not only win their loyalty for years to come, but your business will also see rewards from improved productivity and reduced frustration. And if you fail to deliver the right experiences? Your ability to attract and retain talent will suffer and likely so will your business results.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options to help modernize your enterprise, automating tasks for employees and providing the modern employee experiences they need and deserve.
Leveraging microapps to make interactions with complex systems easier is a great place to start simplifying the work day for employees and improving the overall employee experience. Microapps eliminate frustration and simplify the work day by abstracting the most common tasks and information (like time off balances and payroll information) from back-end systems. They then present that information in a single and intuitive workspace, without requiring navigation between multiple systems. And because they deliver highly customizable functionality that enables single-click access to exactly the information and task-based functions employees need, when they need them, there’s more time for workers to spend on the work that drives real value for the business.
A natural language chatbot is another way add modern functionality that mirrors the consumer experiences employees are accustomed to. There are many areas across an organization that could benefit from that kind of intelligent functionality, such as HR. A chatbot would enable employees to get instant answers to all their most common questions, day or night, without having to wait for responses from someone on the HR team. That’s a
significant time savings for both employees and knowledge owners, and that alone would be enough to make chatbots the cornerstone of the remote work experience, but there are countless other use cases as well, such as facilitating help desk inquiries and requesting time off.
So what’s next?