What (digital) workplace experience for your employees ?

Employee experience is a prerequisite to customer experience which is the foundation of digital transformation. Without symmetry between the inside and the outside, digital transformation lacks coherence, internal capabilities are not able to support the customer orientation and the promise made to the customer that are themselves unable to make internal change meaningful.

A good employee experience must :

– make work simpler (efficiency)

– make tasks easier, enjoyable and engaging (engagement and efficiency)

– be consistent with the experience promised to the customer (sense and alignment). That’s, let’s admit it, the field in which there is the more room for interpretation and creativity.

Employee experience can’t be digital only

As for customer experience, employee experience happens and is assessed at every touchpoint between the enterprise and employees, so it can’t be digital only. It encompasses managers, colleagues, process and the work environment to name juste the most obvious ones.

This post is about the work environment.

At the time when businesses are rethinking their collaboration and communication tools and their intranet in the purpose of building a Digital Workplace, it’s impossible not to consider the latter as the heart of an employee experience strategy. If I consider that the digital workplace is a part of the work environment, it also impacts many other points.

Digital Workplace Experience = User interface + User Journey

When talking about user experience too many people focus on the interface. Let me repeat it for the umpteenth time : interface plays a role in the experience but is not enough.

Three things matter about the interface. Being “nice looking” (what is very subjective, I admit), consistent with the brand identity and what’s offered to customers (useful to to know what direction to follow) and helping to make work simpler. This last point is about the user journey and without it the most beautiful interface will be a beautiful box for emptiness since no one is going to use it because it has no benefit for the individual user.

To say it simply : businesses know that they lose their customers if they have to do more than 3 clicks on their website and spend a lot to make the customer journey as fluid, simple and short as possible. On the contrary everyone finds it acceptable to have employees juggling with 3 applications, 5 windows and do 10 clicks to perform a recurring and basic task.

User experience is not restricted or specific to an application but cross-applications, encompassing all the applications that are part of the user journey.

Requiring customers to use a site to browse a catalog, another to place an order, another to pay and choose the delivery mode, while having to re-log in each one is unthinkable. It woul lead to huge losses and no one would buy anything. What if we applied the same economic approach to employees and also consider that, in addition to productivity, there’s an impact in terms of engagement since users think that everything is done to improve the customer journey while his own digital environment is updated every 5 years but without real improvement ?

I don’t want to elaborate further on technology but let me share one thought : if you had to focus on a single thing, think about unified search. It’s great in terms of experience and, knowing the time wasted to find the right information, it’s a matter that’s too often overlooked while benefits can come quickly.

The digital workplace improves interpersonnal touchpoints

I consider that the relationship with managers and colleagues is a key part of employee experience for obvious reasons. The first is responsible for employee engagement (people rarely leave a company, the leave a manager), one work with the second and both are key to a more simple, engaging and efficient work.

I’m not saying that technology alone will improve the way a business operations, human relationships and collaboration. However it’s a powerful catalysts for organizations that really pay attentions to these matters, take them by the right end and need a lever to scale what they do in real life.

As a communication,  collaboration and networking platform, the digital workplace is a lever to a great employee experience.

Better experience with dematerialized processes

Processes are often experience killer, most of all when they’re slow and require a lot of paperwork. Process dematerialization and making them accessible from the day to day work environment leads to a better experience.

But technology has limits : a complicated, useless and poorly designed process will remain complicated, useless and poorly designed when dematerialized if has not been questioned and simplified in the first place.

But when it’s well done and when people say “it’s simpler, more practical and faster than before” in the open space, it’s a good sign.

The internet of things : the next frontier of the digital workplace

It’s unavoidable : the digital workplace and the intranet will expand well beyond screens to find a place in connected objects and, most of all, wearables. They contribute to delivering services to employees (remember : any tool which use is not seen as a service is not used but most businesses still think of making employees use thing vs. delivering services to them).

Connected watches can become a powerful collaboration and employee servicing tool. Work, collaboration tool, authentication, access badge, key to open a booked meeting room…the field of use is wide. And beyond offices and white collars I’m sure that their health capabilities will be useful in risky or arduous work environments to prevent and react to accidents. I would not be surprised if, as I wrote previously, the more compelling use cases of a connected watch were in the professional sphere rather than in the private one.

But I don’t think we’re ready for implants. Anyway, the professional use cases of connected objects will be the subject of a future post.

No screen should look nicer that the office around

Connected objects leads us to the physical work environment with which they interact to provide a useful and quality user experience through services.

No one should forget that the physical work environment plays a role in the employee experience. Like the digital workplace it must be consistent with the ambition and the promise of the company in terms of design and functionalities (what ranges from furniture to interactions with connected objects). The best digital work environment on a screen is worth nothing if, when one looks around, there’s nothing to see but sadness and desolation or if people feel they’re working in the middle of an airport terminal.

Towards a global work environment experience

That’s one more reason to think digital and physical jointly. After all, businesses revamp their stores for the customer experience, don’t they ?

That’s why, instead of talking about Digital Workplace Experience I refer the (Digital) Workplace Experience.It’s a  global experience in the work environment when the frontier between physical and digital is nothing but an illusion, the digital workplace experience is a workplace experience.

Image Credit : workplace by Garsya via Shutterstock

Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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