Employee Input Critical for Digital Workplace Success

May 14, 2021 by Victoria Turner

The transition to remote work this past year happened a lot more quickly than many expected, which suggests organizations were “already working in a digital environment, we just had not realized it,” said Tatyana Mamut, senior vice president of new products at Pendo yesterday.

Companies have invested millions into creating digital workplaces to meet their business continuity needs during pandemic-related remote work. But employers and managers need to remember that “it is not just about the technology, it’s about how people are getting their work done,” said Carrie Basham Marshall, principal and CEO of Talk Social To Me. Both Marshall and Mamut were speaking at Simpler Media Group’s Digital Workplace Experience event on a panel entitled, “Simplifying the Digital Workplace Ecosystem.” 

With many companies utilizing unified management systems – connecting their workflows, applications, new processes and tools – to try to bring “order out of chaos” brought on by the pandemic, the business’s mission-based focus should be on the user, said Shaun Slattery, director of change management at LumApps. There must be “representation from the employees who will be affected” by all the new tools developed, he said, and figuring out what tools they think work best. 

“The reason why we have tools is to help people do their work more efficiently and be more engaged, so meet them where they are as opposed to asking them to meet you where the technology is,” Mamut urged. 

Instead of employers “prescribing” what they think would be the best tool or “new transformative app,” Marshall added, they need to engage with all levels of employees and ensure they have a “tangible framework that is realistic” and about the work performed. This is particularly important for frontline workers or those in manufacturing plants, who don’t sit behind a desk and a computer, but instead need their employer to “blend the analog with the digital.”

Now, as companies tackle how to return to the office, keep their employees working remotely or a hybrid format, setting up this “tangible” framework is the next step. 

And the recommended framework starts with an open line of communication, Mamut said. 

“We want to retain that bottom-up feedback loop from the employees up to management and especially into the IT department as we make decisions about rationalizing the digital workplace,” she added. 

Once the input is gathered throughout the organization, along with the data on what apps and tools are actually used more than others or work better, then you can create a “knowing, guiding and learning framework,” Mamut explained. This will “drive truly to an ecosystem” versus a one-way lane of communication. 

“People want options, but not chaos,” said Nathan Butala, senior corporate communications associate at ZS Associates. Having three different platforms to communicate through can seem great, but suffering from an “information overload” is not. Identifying the tool that works for the employees using it and “making that the path forward,” he explained, “eases the transition” and the “burden.”

As a “corporate communicator,” Butala urged employers and employees alike to trust these communicator roles to drive the transformation. Much like an orchestra, he said, the corporate communicators are the directors that “create a cohesive messaging at the right time” to make all of these “screaming, out of sync” instruments “build and support one another.” 

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