How to Make Your Digital Workplace Happier, Faster and Smarter

November 12, 2021

Contributor: Manasi Sakpal

Take these actions to improve employee satisfaction, effectiveness and preparedness for the future of work.

As organizations continue to reopen their doors to employees, those responsible for digital workplace initiatives are wondering if they are prepared to support the new needs of a hybrid workforce. From flexibility to productivity to employee satisfaction to accountability, leaders must solve hundreds of puzzles to make their workplaces suitable to the digital workforce.

“The need to support new working patterns in reaction to the pandemic enabled leaders to massively accelerate the pace of digital workplace adoption,” says Michael Woodbridge, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner. “In the next phase, employees want to enjoy their work more, get it done faster and, at the same time, find new ways to improve the quality of their work.” 

Watch now: Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey Results: The Real Future of Work

Workforce IT has gone from invisible to essential. Now the challenge is to move from being reactive to using this momentum to drive real change in how people work. Here’s how.

The image describes 3 actions that CIOs can take to improve productivity and employee satisfaction in a digital workplace.

1. Support radical flexibility to increase employee productivity and satisfaction

Gartner research suggests that organizations that offer employees more flexibility around when, where and how much they work consider 55% of their employees high performers. Compare that to those that don’t offer a flexible work environment, where the number is only 36%.

Technology plays a significant role in enabling radical flexibility. Use the same — and additional — toolsets you adopted during COVID-19 to support collaboration, calendaring and meeting capabilities. It’s imperative that you do this in a fair manner — all employees should be able access critical services in the same way. 

2. Eliminate distractions caused by digital friction to help employees work faster 

Between 2020 and 2021, IT and digital workplace leaders implemented new tools and technologies at unprecedented levels. This led to an overwhelming number of notifications, updates, emails and messages. The result? Digital workers frequently fail to notice important information, because it comes their way faster than they can process it. 

These distractions create a form of digital friction that Gartner defines as the “unnecessary effort an employee has to exert to use data or technology for work.” Address this challenge by clearly communicating best practices for workplace application use, configuring parameters that can accurately measure productive hours, and deploying services and products that deliver only the right information to employees. 

For example, when it comes to using collaboration software such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, you can establish best practices for notifying an individual team member using an @ tag versus notifying the whole team. Additionally, when selecting new vendors, make a point to assess user experience features, such as subscriptions, notification thresholds and device notification selection. 

3. Aspire to work smarter

Organizations need to be aware of the ways that workplace technology is evolving and support employees in using it. The good news is the underlying technology platform that is the basis for many of these changes is already in place. 

Your best bet is to focus on tools that really change the way work gets done. These tools, which include features for development, automation, analytics and AI, are key to enabling employees to define their own solutions. Increase the digital dexterity of all users with a new set of skills profiles such as:

  • Data mavens, who can find and use data to inform any business situation.
  • Process hackers, who can understand business processes and apply low-code or no-code technology to automate them.
  • Smart thinkers, who can demystify AI technologies for their colleagues.

“Democratize technology to enable a smarter workplace,” says Woodbridge.

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