Creating a Modern workplace – Put Your People in the Driver’s Seat

December 27, 2017 Ross Welham

The workforce is changing.  We now have a multi-generation workforce, and their expectations are greater than ever. Businesses can no longer rely on training people to work in the ‘ways of the business’ – that simply limits the benefits that the newer generations bring.  

With increasing reports about personal autonomy and a gig economy, there’s a growing shift towards people having multiple jobs and seeking more autonomy in the way they work. Is your business operating as an evolution of the past or operating with intention to progress? 

Shifting your viewpoint 

It’s fair to say that the majority of new technology projects focus on the tools, not the users. But now is the time to let go of those behaviours and adopt a mindset focused on end-user experience.  Don’t think of it as you would a server upgrade; think about how will it help users and empower them to achieve greater personal autonomy and make decisions about how and who they work with. 

Putting the people at the heart of the business is about giving them tools that they want to use, not which they have to use. People often work in their inbox because they think that’s how the business needs to operate.  But get them excited about new personal choices, and you can break those shackles.  Don’t be fearful of synchronous chat rather than asynchronous mail-based conversation. Focus on the process rather than what drives it and you’ll increase the speed of innovation, sharpen decision making and unleash knowledge-sharing. 

We’re talking about Constructive not Disruptive change 

This is constructive change.  Change is difficult, but it’s inevitable, and for many businesses there’s a wealth of advantage ahead if they rethink how they consider it. 

It’s vital to have top-down optimism and energy, coupled with a practical realism. Constructive change doesn’t require complex, multi-phased transformation projects.  Even the smallest initial changes can reap significant results and create a springboard for excited, engaged users and new routes to productivity.  Start by going for small value-based wins to show the business and the users quick tangible results.  Prioritise areas which drive modern communication and collaboration.  Put people at the centre of how the business operates. 

Start with a clean slate and ask people what they want. Everybody has totally different expectations of technology in their personal life, so why do those expectations change when we walk into work?  If your business is over-reliant on email, introduce Skype. Replace emailed documents with an online collaboration space. The appetite is there, and very often users have already sought new ways of working using external, unsupported tools.  

Your pathway to a people-first workplace 

  1. Talk to the business 

Gather representatives with a broad demographic profile and from all corners of the business and get their input.  Ask them what they need from the business to work in ways which help them achieve their best results.  Be open to modern ways of communication and collaboration. Don’t underestimate the power of a communications strategy that moves beyond traditional email and paper-based methods; engage directly with the workforce through modern tools like Yammer or events and channels which resonate with their personal preferences and everyday communication habits prevalent with consumer products such as WhatsApp or Slack. 

  1. Adopt a value-based delivery strategy 

Have a clear, timed plan and know how many phases are involved in getting to where you need to be.  Start by looking at the improvements which offer the highest value and resonate with a large audience, yet are also the simplest and quickest to implement. Show results and reap the rewards as quickly as possible – you can’t go away for 12 months to work on it and expect a warm reception upon launch.  And focus on the continued engagement of the business beyond the immediate “launch”, consider how you will maintain ‘Excite’ levels and be ready to accommodate new requirements or features as an integral part of everyday business.  

  1. Neutralise negative culture 

If the business’ expectation is set for failure, you need to address it immediately.  I’m sure you’ve heard phrases like “IT have done this, but it won’t work” or “The users ask for these tools and then never use them.”  Creating constructive change and a modern workplace requires the dial to be turned from pessimism to optimism and an environment to be created where all teams work together towards the chosen outcomes.  Remember, this is all about behavioural change; it’s an ongoing cycle, not just an IT project. Define your champions, educate and excite them, convert them into advocates for change within their area of the business. 

 So are you ready to put your people in the driver’s seat of your business?  It’s vital to know strategically what you’re going to deliver and the importance of excited and engaged users is paramount from day one, through the enablement phase and beyond.  Drive a culture of optimistic constructive change.  And if you need some help, connect with a New Signature expert to get started. 


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