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Digital workplace: Let them make a difference!

For the last decade, employees have been the driving force in defining tomorrow’s digital workplace. By seamlessly integrating technology into their private lives, they have started to transform their workplaces as well. Companies unable to navigate this environment successfully will almost likely become victims of “Digital Darwinism”.

The productivity gains in the 20th century pales in comparison to the productivity gains of the 21st century. Technology is now everywhere at the forefront, allowing employees to achieve ever increasing productivity because of improvements in communication and connectivity. This is not just changing how employees work, but also the ways employees think about work.

People are adapting to technology quicker than many organizations can

In the 20th century, the forefront of technology was found at the workplace. Today, employees are, for the most part, more technologically connected during their private lives than their work lives. This is leading to employees being much more familiar and receptive to technology than organizations are. Employees are integrating technology to seamlessly improve their lives at a greater pace than organizations are. This brings us to a completely new challenge: The gap in which people and organizations are leveraging technology to be more productive is ever-widening.

Employees are forced to work with outdated protocols and simultaneously are expected to enjoy it. However, this expectation is futile at best.

Furthermore, employee access to information is no longer constrained by the employer, and in the matter of minutes, an employee can become informed about a topic. As the old saying goes: information leads to power. Employees feel more empowered today than ever before and this empowerment creates awareness and demands.

The first challenge for companies struggling with the concept of a digital workplace is to relent the ‘command and control’ dictatorships of the past and begin to look at the workforce as one of possibility instead of skepticism. By understanding and empathizing with how the workforce is leveraging technology and how the technology is changing their behaviors, values, and expectations, leaders will see how technology can be leveraged to be an enabler of a much more natural, enjoyable workplace.

Companies can become the “in-place to work” by successfully leveraging technology for productivity gains

One of the biggest problems is that companies are still in the same old command and control structure and forcing technology upon the workforce. At the same time, successful companies are looking for the most productive technology to leverage, giving their workforce the best tools to accomplish the tasks. Successful companies are looking for productivity gains – irrelevant companies are looking for familiarity.

Employees want to be engaged with their work. They want to be productive. The protestant work ethic of the past generations is a bygone era. They want to make a difference. This passion and drive can and should be enabled.

Customer-centric also means employee-focused

Successful companies are continuously refining their workplace experience by focusing on the user-experience of the technology they are leveraging. By reducing user experience debt, they are increasing productivity. User experience debt is a concept stating that poor user-experience leads to opportunity costs. In other words, poor user-experience creates costs through time, decrease in morale from frustration, and inefficiencies in spreading the workload across the company. User experience debt must be repaid somehow.

A well-designed user-experience creates a seamless integration of the leveraged technology in order to accomplish work at not just the individual level, but also at the collective level. Employees are at the front-line and are fully aware what technology will permit them to optimally perform their tasks. In the end, the digital workplace will be shaped by the people that use it.

It’s simple as that: They want to perform their tasks to the best of their ability.

Technology is most effective when it is invisible. And to achieve this, a company needs to have a vision about what they want to achieve based around the user experience. At the end of the day however, it is the employee that uses the technology as a tool to accomplish their tasks – not the other way round. And this must be counted in when building an effective digital workplace.

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Can usually be found discussing the impacts of technology on both social and work environment or on the side lines coaching American Football.
Leipzig, Germany