Taking the Digital Workplace to the next level: Putting people at the centre


Posted on: October 10, 2018 by Bas Stroeken

The way we work is undergoing rapid transformation, from automation augmenting job roles to immersive technologies like VR entering the workplace. Business leaders must act fast if they’re to keep up with the competition and respond to shifting employee expectations, especially with a new digitally-native generation entering the workplace for the first time. For businesses to realize the benefits of this new way of working and increase workforce productivity, a major rethink is required to bridge the gap between the needs of people and emerging technology.

Breaking down Digital Workplace silos

The Digital Workplace – which allows people to connect, communicate and collaborate in new ways – has traditionally been the sole responsibility of the IT department. For example, orchestrating changes to Office 365, enhancing technical tools and revamping help functions. Of course, these are all crucial to bringing the working environment into the digital era, but can only go so far in improving productivity and employee experience. To take the Digital Workplace to the next level, the IT team needs to be able to work more collaboratively with key stakeholders across HR, Facilities Management, Communications and other core business units.

By breaking down silos, organizations can expect to see the following Digital Workplace benefits:

  • Higher return on financial investments: collaboration across teams will lead to more widespread adoption of technology at scale. Using tools that can speed up processes across the board will impact productivity gains more widely, and in turn, will surpass the investment made in new Digital Workplace technologies.
  • Improved employee engagement: with departments working together, tools can be refined to suit employee needs. Change can also be better communicated by drawing on different talents that sit outside of the IT function.
  • Enhanced digital maturity: the Digital Workplace is a central pillar of digital transformation and can structurally improve digital maturity across the business if more employees are on board with the strategy

Getting under the skin of the employee

While collaborating and breaking down silos makes business sense, all parties involved will need to get to know the specific and personal needs of individual employees to make their Digital Workplace strategy a success.

Segmenting the workforce into a series of different profiles is an important starting point to this, as it shifts strategy from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ to a more analytical and personal approach. For example, an employee in the operations team will have very different needs, aspirations and frustrations to a member of the sales team. Digital maturity levels (familiarity with technology and openness to change) can also be identified as part of this process. A typical organization will identify around six to eight profiles, focusing on key job functions, or combining roles that have similarities.

Once the different profiles have been identified, employers can dig deeper into ‘employee journeys’, which map out the typical “day in the life” of each individual. This journey should focus on their location and role – are they primarily desk-based or does the individual typically work out in the field? What tasks do they need to carry out on a daily basis?

By establishing these factors, employers can then identify any potential issues that could impact the way an employee carries out their work. More often than not, small fixes, such as deploying a simple business app, can greatly improve their overall employee experience. For example, a sales rep might have difficulty accessing company files out in the field or a marketing exec might lack the means to communicate and collaborate with the wider business. Introducing a secure enterprise platform that delivers and manages apps remotely could benefit the sales rep and a collaboration tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams could help the marketing exec connect with different stakeholders.

Measurement can also be added in when mapping out employee journeys, the employees are interviewed by their line manager and asked how effective they are at different points across their day. For example, an individual with too many meetings might have a relatively low effectiveness score and can use this meeting as an opportunity to flag their concerns. By taking the time to interview individual employees, staff will be more likely to embrace change and new technologies. More often than not, new processes can be dictated to staff with little involvement from their employees which can impact engagement rates.

Getting employees to champion the Digital Workplace

Of course, there is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and personalization is key to engaging staff in the Digital Workplace. Driven by innovation in emerging technologies, the Digital Workplace is a growing market that has the potential to drive productivity across the business. By making employees champions of these technologies, change will be less daunting, more effective and quicker.

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About Bas Stroeken

Executive Consultant at Atos Consulting
Bas Stroeken is an Executive Consultant at Atos Consulting. He is the pillar lead within Consulting Benelux & the Nordics for the Digital Workplace. Bas started his career many years ago as a marketing trainee at Unilever, and subsequently spent 10 years in marketing in the UK, The Netherlands, and Hungary working for Unilever, PepsiCo, and Sara Lee. His interest in consumer behavior transitioned toward employee behavior during a four-year spell in Budapest where a state-owned coffee company was transformed to a P&L driven organization. Within the Digital Workplace team Bas’ principal interest is in looking to bring value to the employee, whether that be through a better user experience, improved collaboration, or personal productivity. From his perspective the dialogue is often too narrow, focusing only on technology push and not on a true integral vision of the workplace. It’s his personal mission to boost employee-centric thinking, for which the employee journeys are an excellent starting point.