Create a Digital Workplace Manifesto for Executives and Employees

How a plain-spoken manifesto articulating the business goals and company culture in a digital workplace program demonstrates its value to leadership and employees.

 

The IT division has produced a compelling digital workplace initiative to help the company realize the promise of the digital economy by exploiting consumerization trends to boost employee engagement and agility.  Now comes the hard part: helping the leadership and staff understand, invest, participate and thrive in the digital workplace.

According to Matthew W. Cain, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst, the solution is to create a digital workplace manifesto to concisely explain the mission, demonstrate the digital workplace initiative’s business benefits to leadership, and integrate the manifesto into a change program designed to encourage new employee attitudes and behaviors.

Promote Workplace Values

The manifesto as a whole offers a way to communicate the broad goals of the IT organization. If it avoids deep technical discussion and instead focuses on behavioral change and business outcomes, it will be highly accessible to leadership. If it is inspirational and promotes workplace values like collaboration, continuous learning, personal choice and defined purpose, it will inspire employees to take action on an individual level.

Here are three prime examples of digital workplace manifesto statements, and a look at why they promote IT’s mission to impact of the digital workplace:

  • Endeavor to “work in public” — where projects, research and activities are available to anyone in the community or the organization — to spur awareness, collaboration and, ultimately, innovation, while respecting personal privacy.
  • Continuously expand literacies — new media, information, technical, for example — to spur personal growth and help the company thrive in the digital economy.
  • Create a sense of belonging and ownership — through novel thinking and the use of employee-chosen devices, applications and other services to facilitate personal and organizational agility and effectiveness.

The examples above are simple descriptions that address the question: “What actually is this digital workplace thing?” The answer — which the statements clearly convey — is an emphasis on a more transparent and collaborative work environment and the promotion of flexible technology choices and acquiring technical skills.

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Encouraging Employees

More specifically, “work in public”  focuses on encouraging process transparency and knowledge sharing, which contribute to core business goals such as business cycle acceleration and company-wide leverage of expertise and knowledge. Digital skill acquisition, or literacies, enables the company to participate in the digital economy and encourages employees to gain the essential operational and technical skills they need for that economy. And, by giving employees a choice in devices, applications and other services, the culture emphasizes ownership through novel thinking in a results-oriented operating model. Collectively, the manifesto statements promote the effective use of technology for all business processes, and conveys the value of the digital workplace.

A successful business manifesto will act in concert with existing workplace policies. Organizational change efforts for the digital workplace should be designed so that the vision is consistently explained through a variety of approaches like town halls, videoconferencing and social media. Gartner also recommends the use of peer advocates, localized decision-making by employees to implement the manifesto, and, of course, the demonstration of digital workplace values through leading by example.

By making the company mission and business goals easily understood, the manifesto will help guide and clarify the corporate culture — an increasingly important component in promoting employee engagement. The result will be employees who feel supported and are enabled to do their best work. It will ultimately promote better business outcomes, and improve hiring and retention. The manifesto also demonstrates how the IT organization can directly affect employee engagement levels. Over time, the manifesto — updated on a periodic basis and the subject of organizational discussion — will become a touchstone in most organizational decisions.

Gartner clients can read the full report, Create a Business Manifesto for Digital Workplace Success by Matthew W. Cain, Mike Gotta and Carol Rozwell. The authors will speak at the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit, May 18-20, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.

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