The truth about the modern workplace and employee experience
- Posted on May 9, 2019
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
I was sitting at home last night about to put my kids to bed when I received an important message from a customer. They needed an important document in the next 30 minutes so they could send over a contract for a major deal for my business. I was in a dilemma, my children needed their bedtime story in 10 minutes, I didn't want to let them down and firing up my laptop would take at least 20 minutes to get what I needed and then send it out. Or it would have been 10 years ago. Now, I was able to grab my phone, jump into the cloud storage app and find the document instantly. Everything was done and dusted in 2 minutes. Bedtime, on the other hand, took over an hour. But that's a story for another day…
Work has changed, most people recognise that. It is no longer a 9-5 experience. It is really about give and take. If everyone is honest, we all shop online at work or do life admin, but we also check emails at the weekend and reply to important messages when away from the office.
But has work changed enough? In many workplaces, there is still a stigma around not being "seen" at your desk despite having the tools to work anywhere.
Employers should be focusing on letting employees be human and what allows them to be the best person they can be at home and at work. That is the modern workplace - having a work/life balance that allows everyone to be at the important events in life but also get the important work done at anytime, anywhere.
A modern workplace is an environment rather than a place. An environment that is built the right way, both open and collaborative but also allowing for focus and deep productivity (report writing etc.). The office environment may be fantastic for collaborating and teamwork, but it may also be noisy and counterproductive for tasks that require focus. It may be that the best place for that focus is at home with no distractions (well, other than Netflix).
We have fantastic technology that allows us to work faster from anywhere. But all this tech is useless if no one uses it the right way. What is the point of great real-time collaboration technology if everyone is in the office not talking and just sending emails to each other and then not doing anything until they get a reply? It happens all the time, I have been guilty of it in the past, and it requires retraining the brain to use email for what it was originally designed for - replacing the old office physical memo. To get things done quickly, talk to the person or use real-time collaboration technology, do not hit send and consider your job done!
Fortunately, we are in an age where people often have a richer technology experience in their personal lives than in their work lives, they use the latest and greatest apps and are often ahead of the enterprise technology curve. So getting people to adapt to new technology is not as hard as it once was. The key is bringing it all together into a holistic experience and driving the right culture.
From a business perspective, culture is the key to all this. Historically business have been driven to believe productivity is the goal. More productivity equals more profits, and round and round it goes. However, from a technology perspective companies can spend so much time in refining processes to increase productivity that they lose sight of the actual goal of the business.
CIO's, CHRO's and CEO's need to drive the right culture in the workplace to change the mindset. Employees should feel they are enabled and empowered rather than controlled, this should lead to much greater results for the organisations. People are generally au fait with technology in their personal lives and want more from their workplace or something that matches it. They don't want to feel like they are told what they can and can't do. By empowering the employees with technology, it should allow innovation to develop, rather than be something that is raged against.
It is not a case of the IT department deploying tools and then looking for a problem, it is a case of technology creating a culture that helps employees reach the goals the business requires, anytime, anywhere.