Written by: Yvonne Dias, Mint Group CFO
By Yvonne Dias
Employees Shouldn’t Be the Focus of Workplace Design, They Should Be the Designers
Lack of change management and buy-in from staff are two of the most significant contributors to project failure, highlighting the need for employees to be part of workplace design. Including employees in the process can serve to both heighten buy-in and strengthen culture.
A survey conducted by Steelcase found a correlation between employee-driven designed workspaces and increased productivity. Steelcase found that staff who had a say in their workplace experienced the highest levels of employee engagement and workplace satisfaction. The report added that engaged employees aim to not only be involved in the creation of the physical work environment but also control their work experience regarding privacy, working times, organizational decisions and processes.
All Aboard for Change?
Employee-driven workspace design helps organizations engrain efficiency, productivity and passion into their culture and operations, but only if employees actively participate and communicate their wishes and requirements.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome with digital workplace design and buy-in is the adoption of modern workplace strategies, processes, and, especially, technologies.
Often, adoption resistance boils down to a fear of the unknown as people are, inherently, risk-averse and want to stick with what they know. Legacy systems and processes that have been in place in an organization for long periods can result in silo thinking from employees, making it hard to understand the bigger picture that an organization is trying to achieve through digital enablement. In addition, a lack of training or knowledge regarding new technologies coupled with a fear of job losses also hinders adoption.
The maturity of the job force can also play a role in digital enablement success. However, even the most mature employees can resist adoption if proper guidelines, objectives, support and strategies have not been put in place by an organization. It is also crucial for all stakeholders to show involvement — organizations cannot expect employees to drive the design of the workspace if the support to realize their direction and decisions is not evident.
Breaking Down the Barriers
To overcome common challenges experienced around the design and adoption of the digital workplace, employers need to break down the barriers that are leading to resistance. The first step is to include employees in every aspect of an organization’s digital strategy plan and framework and establish effective mechanisms for feedback. Some actions employers can take to increase employee participation and feedback include:
- Have a digital enablement strategy to ensure staff form part of all organization decisions and objectives.
- Have think-tank sessions to get feedback on current work processes and design and encourage new ideas.
- Ask staff to communicate, design and submit their ideas regarding workplace improvement to an employee panel.
- Establish an employee panel that can review these submitted ideas and ensure the workplace design and processes reflect the wishes and requirements of all departments and staff.
- Have a test group that can pilot ideas to gauge effectiveness before implementation.
The above suggestions can help organizations structure and maintain a suitable framework for an employee-driven workplace design, which aims to foster innovation and embrace transformation, and highlights the need for employee empowerment based on technology. Technology should be an enabler of productivity and efficiency, not a hindrance. When done right, it creates the foundation of a workplace culture that reflects sharing, transparency, accountability and trust.
Popular technologies in the digital workplace that help promote employee communication and collaboration comprise web-based video conferencing, team collaboration sites, cloud-based mail storage and file sharing solutions, feedback tools, intranets and social media platforms.
A Digital Roadmap Keeps You From Falling Into the New Release Trap
While the employee-designed digital workplace is a continuous journey, that does not mean organizations have to adopt every new technology released. In our fast-paced digital world, it is easy to fall into the trap of always going for new releases, but if the technology does not have a place in a digital roadmap with clear objectives, it can become irrelevant, cause too much tech clutter and hinder an organization from reaching its planned ROI objective.
Therefore, each business needs a proper strategy with guidelines around the core and non-core items. When deciding which elements are core to achieving transformation, organizations need to consider the aim of the digital workplace and why it is essential for employees to drive it.
A digital workspace provides staff with access to all the technologies they need to get their tasks done most efficiently and effectively: from internal facing (finance to HR) applications and external applications (social media tools to CRM). It’s categorized by easy access and has the scale to grow and quickly add on more technology or a process that staff need.
Elements of a Digital Roadmap
When creating a digital roadmap, organizations need to work with employees to ensure that all initiatives will support the following:
- Access to information and shared IP: To reduces errors, increased turnaround times and aid personalized internal and external communication.
- Talent attraction and retention: By making it possible for employees to work from home, work from anywhere, and providing tools that help them to work seamlessly.
- Cost savings: Improved efficiency and productivity, increased commitment from employees, higher customer satisfaction ratings and less rental space due to working from home policies.
- Productivity: With access to the right systems, tools and people, productivity increases significantly.
- Improved client experience: From improved communication to quicker turnaround times.
- Continuous feedback: Proper channels for employees to contribute ideas, provide feedback on initiatives and direct the organization in terms of customer expectations, satisfaction and outlook.
A digital workspace designed and driven by employees brings together the worlds of security, employee productivity, and passion — three ingredients that form the perfect recipe for organizational success, empowering the modern worker through a digital workplace driven and designed by those who experience it.