Digital relations are the new culture and norm in any modern organization as teams are geographically scattered, working virtually and using various digital services to work together.
It is the same phenomenon in people's private lives; people are more and more in touch with each other via digital platforms, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. Why should they behave any differently at work?
Therefore, organizations are craving for digital services and workplaces that connect employees, increase collaboration across borders and make it easier for employees to do their jobs. We are no longer talking about employee experience, but about digital employee experience.
Smooth digital relations and collaboration could be the engine of innovation, employee engagement and team spirit boosting productivity and efficiency of the business – assumption being that the employees adopt also the new ways of working.
During this time of accelerated digitalization, it easily feels that it is the technology that drives and the human is only the passenger, trying to stay onboard. To put it bluntly, though, technology is just technology if the human is forgotten.
Naturally, new technologies shape the ways people work and act; they bring possibilities that we could not have even dreamt of. However, without the user being in the center of the digital service development and deployment, the full potential of the technology cannot ever be unleashed. This naturally applies also to the digital workplaces.
It all should begin by identifying and defining the challenge in people's work day that we want to solve or an opportunity we want to grasp. In some cases, technology and digitalization may help, but in some not. There always needs to be a purpose for technology and for digitalizing.
Only by defining the aim and the purpose for the digital workplace, we can identify what is the preferred way for people to use the related technology and digital services to reach that aim. Success of our digitalization efforts are determined by the way people are using the technology in their day-to-day work; are they using it in a preferred way to achieve the aim that has been set.
Solid definitions for the purpose and preferred ways of working are not born just like that, but they require a thorough understanding of the users, their needs and how they work. This understanding is only created by getting the users involved in creating the definitions. Users themselves should define the purpose for the organization's digital workplace. Users are the best to tell how they work and what are the challenges they encounter.
Organization's new digital ways of working are defined and created together. This is the way to start building sustainable digital workplaces and related ways of working, enabling smooth digital relations between the employees and creating great everyday experiences.
Getting the users involved in the development of the new digital workplace and ways of working is the first step in making the change happen. According to McKinsey, when people are truly invested in change it is 30 percent more likely to stick.
Changing the ways of working should not be separated from the technical project. It is not something that is done at the end of the pipe, but it is something that could get started from the very beginning. This may sound laborious as there are many other things to take into account too, but it is something that will pay back in the end.
When users can have their say, and when they can contribute to defining the digital services and ways of working for the organization, they are already defining the meaning of those also for themselves. At the end of the day, each user needs to define and understand "what's in it for me" himself. That is something you cannot give as ready-made, but you can surely facilitate the process.
Same applies to the social media platforms people use in their private lives. Some of those you adopt immediately while some you drop as you cannot see the value they could offer to you. It helps the adoption if your friends and family are using the platform. This, on the other hand, also applies to the technology used at work; if you see people you trust using a tool, it is easier for you to start using it too.
It may be accelerated but it is a change, and all the change management principles apply. Even though setting up for example a new digital workplace can be technically relatively easy and quick, it takes time for all the users to get fully onboard and adopt the new ways of working. That is something you cannot accelerate, but something you need to accept.
Therefore, changing the ways of working requires repetition and persistence. It also needs patience. You start to see sustainable and widespread changes in people's ways of working and behavior only long after the technical project has been completed. Those changes do not happen if users are left alone after the project. The hardest work in changing the ways of working only starts when the roll-out of the digital service has been done.
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves? We surely are!