When designing or revamping a digital workplace, CIOs and other IT leaders must navigate a complex variety of demographic, role-related and attitudinal factors.
Virginia is a 25-year-old digital worker. She has several views about who in her organization should select and deliver digital technologies, and whether the tech offered is strong and attractive.
Andrew, a 55-year-old digital employee, has his own opinions about his workplace, including the kind of technology he works with, his skill with technologies, and how management views and understands him.
It’s not all about age, or job role, or gender. IT must be resilient to serve the diversity of the human experience
Both Virginia and Andrew are savvy with digital tools. But other digital workers have no meaningful opportunity to improve their digital dexterity. They are likely to consider their digital skills as neglected and the technology they work with obsolete.
“Workers differ in how they interact with equipment, software and with each other,” says Whit Andrews, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “It’s important for CIOs and IT leaders to recognize that individuals’ habits, diverse attitudes and preferred work styles stem from many factors. It’s not all about age, or job role, or gender. IT must be resilient to serve the diversity of the human experience.”
Andrews worked with fellow analysts to examine data from a broad survey of digital workers in the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., Japan, Singapore and Australia. They identified five types of workers, taking into account career level, demographics, work style, and attitude toward technology and the people who manage it.
“People with different styles and from different backgrounds populate the same roles; IT must consequently flex to the worker’s needs and maybe help him or her mature their abilities as well,” adds Andrews.
He recommends leaders tap into the specific attributes of worker types to get the most out of investments made:
- Increase the chances for digital workers to tell IT what their digital work day is like. You could do so by instituting mentoring, reverse mentoring and embedded programs. Incorporate questions about their experiences into IT surveys. Brief and candid observation is a great way to gather stories about how people really get their jobs done.
- Arrange small meetings and observed focus groups in which senior executives can learn about workers’ digital technology challenges. Many workers believe that executives don’t know what is necessary to stabilize or improve technological ventures that affect workers.
- Document work styles internally to help support more styles in more roles. Although there may be an optimum style for a given role in terms of measurement, different types of worker, who favor different styles, often perform the same role.
- Model workers’ needs based on how they use technology inside and outside the office.
Andrews adds: “Target mavericks to uncover their hidden, idiosyncratic and resourceful insights into productivity and unshared technologies. Provide navigators with the workspaces they need to contribute individually, as well as the opportunity to share their strengths and perspectives with others.”
This article has been updated from the original, published on November 21, 2016, to reflect new events, conditions or research.
Gartner clients can also read more in the report "Understand Five Key Types of Worker to Energize Your Digital Workplace," by Whit Andrews et al.
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