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What is your strategy for the post-pandemic era of work transformation?

15 June 2020 | Enrique Pena

The roughly last three months, mandatory remote work has been a shock to countless people and their employers. Work at home practices necessitated by the pandemic has uncovered instantaneous gaps and inadequacies in the toolsets provided to employees for remote work and have spun organisations to accelerate the execution of their digital transformation strategies. The good news is that lockdown requirements are relaxing. Knowing that in the post-pandemic era, more employees than before will want to continue working remotely, decision-makers are pivoting their strategies towards digital work transformation.

What have we at Digital14 learned from this shift to work at home and how will it impact the future of work? In our studies, one key finding is the varying levels of remote employee engagement and its impact on efficiency and productivity. Understandably, workforce engagement was not on everybody’s top of mind, and organisations moved to the big name, best-of-breed digital workspace solutions such as Office 365, Teams, Webex or Citrix. Soon it was noticed that employees were not sufficiently adept at using these applications. Significant remote work problems persist, such as inaccessible applications and information, home circumstances with a mixture of kids and lack of space, all which make work from home challenging, hard to concentrate on, and confusing. Now we are learning that focus on employee experience generates greater employee engagement.

Choose a solution that delivers the best employee experience

Robust remote work capabilities that can be utilised are now seen as mandatory for future business continuity plans. To secure these capabilities, organisations are starting to focus on improving employee experience and generating greater employee engagement. Our studies show that digital workspace technologies, such as email, messaging and video conferencing, intelligent file searching and sharing, among many others, are the key drivers of digital transformation among enterprises today. Digital workspace leaders are now after solutions that deliver actual, realised benefits, not forgetting security, business privacy and compliance, which are considered hygiene factors when comparing options.

Leaders and decision-makers are after proven process efficiency, greater business agility, scaling of valuable people assets and improved productivity. These, in turn, guarantee accelerated time-to-market, improved decision making, greater customer intimacy and retention, and better work/life and non-routine balance that attract and retain the best people.

These are the metrics enterprises apply when thinking of investing in digital workspace technology today. From the vendors’ perspective, this means that to be competitive in the market, the software and technology not only needs to be easy and fast to be deployed, but they also have to ensure equally rapid user adoption and easy-to-learn tools. You can round up all these qualities into UX, or pristine employee experience. Smart and differentiated developers place the user experience as their top priority in delivering the benefits requested – in a continuous manner – becoming the market leaders.

In a case study covering a local industrial enterprise, employees had no remote work culture or experience. This organisation had issued no company phones and staff had only desktop computers at the office to perform their work. They never brought work home. The pandemic came, and they suddenly needed a complete overhaul from a pure physical office environment to an all-employee digital workspace. Enters a smart vendor, who deploys their collaborative communications solution in a matter of a couple of days, and who succeeds in engaging employees with training, equips them with devices and sends them home. Add an all-for-free price tag for three months, and you can imagine the stickiness that follows. The deployment experience was impeccable. So far, no complaints, but if the tools themselves prove to work as promised, this client will continue using this solution, and the vendor can ask for a premium too.

Integrated business ecosystems enable reliable communication among employees

The collaboration market is already quite huge and growing rapidly; everybody wants and competes for the big digital transformation dollars. Gartner Research aptly estimates that 60% of all software vendors are implementing collaboration features in their products by 2023. That is, even those companies that develop non-collaboration related products, are customising them to be so, either self-sufficiently or by opening APIs for third-party integrations to do the job for them.

So if great UX and fast deployment are one success point, application integration is the other. This refers to collaboration software vendors developing solutions to integrate seamlessly to different business, information and productivity applications that already exist. Why build a whole digital workspace when you can plug messaging or conferencing into those tools that the buyers already use? Why would buyers choose any other option? Hence the Slacks and vendors alike are booming.

These application connectors are deployed quickly and can create a dynamic digital work environment for employees and are converging collaboration features with business tools immediately contributing to higher efficiency and employee engagement. Applications that are spun up individually are holding data hostage in separate silos of the business. Without relevant collaboration tool integrations to essential business applications, businesses and their employees don’t have a holistic view of potentially revenue-affecting data flows. Work transformation is about equipping your remote workforce with tools that integrate seamlessly to your business so that your employees can pull data, share files and have productive conversations all in one central place. It simplifies how employees engage with work, projects, customers and trading partners.

Successful work transformation lies in understanding the context of work

The third key route to successful work transformation is contextuality, which refers to the technique that application connector developers do best; they focus on creating meaningful and relevant relationships between employees, apps and information types. They apply a contextual lens in their collaborative tool development with the focus on their stakeholders’ specific work needs. Why try to capture everything at one go and deliver mediocre experiences causing users to hate the tools they work with when you gain more by providing exceptional experiences and benefits for a smaller group that will love you? This, linked to advancements in analytics, machine learning, and workstream automation, allows developers to continuously improve on the user experience and collaboration, keeping employees productive and employers happy.

To conclude, when preparing for the post-pandemic era of working from home, identify the centre of gravity, or core capability needed by your teams. Teams, communities, and targeted or company-wide audiences have entirely different work-related communication and collaboration needs. One giant workspace solution that intends to fit all will not engage everybody but quite likely alienate the majority.

Instead, apply contextuality in choosing your work transformation partner. A contextual lens in choosing collaborative tools provides a more systematic and growingly overarching view of your employees’ varying needs. Cater to and offer your workforce the means for remote work based on their size, worker type, function, multigenerational qualities, competences and capabilities and communication frequency. You will gain a better operating lens to their digital work/life and thus your business. You will manage to observe and gain insights on how better to situate your employees within the broader worker journey. In other words, work transformation is about creating vertical employee experiences one at a time and gradually expanding to horizontal organisation-wide groups.

Converging application and contextual integration in your digital workspace tends to deliver the desired outcomes mentioned at the beginning of this blog. While it can be a slow process, those preparing for work transformation today are already reaping the benefits.

KATIM® sovereign collaboration solutions

Coming back to security, business privacy and compliance, since we were founded, Digital14 has practised a secure by design approach in everything we do. As the only secure collaborative communications solutions developer in the UAE, we not only apply a security-first philosophy, but we guarantee data and information sovereignty. Let your customers and investors know that you value security. Digital14 wants your organisation, public or private, government or commercial, to have confidence they can freely communicate, collaborate and share sensitive information without risk. Visit digital14.com/connect today.

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