Moving new digital workplace processes from novel to normal
As organizations settle into a post-pandemic routine, they have an opportunity to capitalize on what they learned during the crisis. COVID-19 forced many enterprises to shift to remote work overnight. Formerly office-bound employees were suddenly working from home. IT departments raced to procure, image and configure laptops and other devices for remote work. Virtual private networks (VPNs) designed to support only a few remote workers were scaled to support everyone.
Many companies leveraged the benefits of cloud computing to enable their employees to work anywhere during the pandemic. They adopted secure cloud gateways and unified endpoint management features to enroll devices remotely. They freed employees from being tethered to the corporate network, letting them connect to applications over the internet. Employees took advantage of this freedom to figure out new, better ways to communicate and collaborate.
Take a breath
In short, the disruption of the pandemic spurred new, novel ways of working. Now it’s time to step back, investigate and evaluate these processes, and incorporate these improvements into your digital workplace. You can take advantage of the innovations necessitated by the crisis to transform from an organization limited by fixed infrastructure and static management solutions into a more agile and flexible one, with employees working on any device, from anywhere, more productively.
“In 2020, organizations across the world experienced a sudden surge in remote workers. During this shift, workforce automation, digital dexterity and hybrid working delivered significant business value, revenue growth and helped organizations maintain business continuity, says Rashmi Choudhary, a principal research analyst at Gartner. “Going forward, the dependence on technology to promote collaboration and a sense of belonging so that remote workers stay connected and engaged in the ‘new normal’ will be more important than it has ever been before.”
This requires a strategy for studying how employees work, identifying the best new processes and workflows, and proliferating them throughout the organization for maximum business benefit. It takes a well-designed organizational learning and change management plan to effectively operationalize and scale these new ways of working.
Reinvigorate communications and collaboration
Telecommunications, media and technology are all collaborative industries, but how employees use these new capabilities will differ, not just from one industry to another or one company to another, but from one business unit to another, depending on the nature of the work. Here are three steps Atos suggests as a framework on which to build a reinvigorated communications and collaboration ecosystem.
Look and learn: Study your employees and how they worked during the pandemic. Developing work profiles and personas can help you systematically identify workers and workflow patterns, which become important as you scale out and apply them across your organization. Focus on what employees actually do. Don’t rely on an org chart. In our consulting work, Atos often finds that the official organizational structure doesn’t accurately reflect how employees work. Use what you discover to create different categories of work styles, such as power user, as well as different personas, such as executive, graphic artist, or field technician.
Identify and evaluate: Identify successful processes and workflows. Determine what factors contributed to that success and how they might be applied in other areas. For example, programmers in a technology company may have worked out better ways to share the latest specifications with their team in real time. That process might improve how engineers in R&D collaborate. Evaluate, optimize and standardize the workflow, so it can be used by others.
Train, scale and tune: The work profiles and personas you’ve developed will help you identify other employees in other parts of the company that can benefit from the improvements. With the right matching, you can offer workers training from which they will benefit immediately, which increases employee engagement and productivity. Meanwhile, you can use the data gathered through virtual training sessions, interactive webinars, and even gamification to further finetune work profiles and personas. This is an iterative learning and development program that changes as your employees, and your organization, grow and adapt. A “pick your own adventure” game, for example, shows which paths are chosen by certain personas in certain work profiles and helps you identify how they learn most effectively. That knowledge can be fed back into profiles and personas, creating a feedback loop that helps both employees and the organization. Employees recognize the relevance and usefulness of the training, so they participate enthusiastically. They learn quickly and adopt the practices, which increases their productivity, engagement and satisfaction levels. Everybody wins.
Don’t let a global crisis go to waste. As challenging as the last year has been, your company can turn hard-learned lessons into permanent advantages.