Since the pandemic hit, many of us have been forced to work at home, and millions of us continue to do so
Recent figures from the ONS showed that 49% of all UK workers reported working from home at some point in the seven days to June 14, with increasing numbers of the workforce relying on technology to keep them connected to their colleagues and clients. Very often, employees aren’t given much choice over the solutions they are made to use in the workplace. This becomes problematic when, if stuck at home, they are struggling to use a clunky piece of legacy software or an app that’s not compatible with their personal device, and they can’t just walk up to the IT desk to get help. Now, more than ever before, employees’ interaction with technology has to be flawless, as a negative experience can have a huge impact on one’s motivation and engagement in their work.
A recent Harvard Business Review study into executives’ attitudes towards employee engagement reported that nearly a third (29%) of respondents admit their organisation doesn’t solicit input from employees on the tools and technologies that impact their work. As we have seen from previous research, using software people don’t like is a big factor in why employees quit. We are drowning in like-for-like technologies without truly understanding how we should really use them. Businesses should involve employees at all levels in the discussion on how to maximise the potential of the tools they have. Almost all respondents (92%) in the study agreed that employee engagement is critical to their organisation’s success.
The real time demand
In our personal lives, we get everything in real time. Real time updates on people’s holiday snaps, on the news, on traffic updates. We are very used to receiving information here and now, as it happens. The ideal website loading time on a mobile is under three seconds with 53% of visits abandoned if it takes longer. The demand for immediacy in our personal lives means we now expect the same, if not, better, experiences of technology in our professional lives. This doesn’t mean providing employees with the latest smartphone to make all their work calls, but it does mean making sure they get the same seamless experiences on corporate applications and devices as they do when streaming Netflix or ordering a Deliveroo at home.
In the Harvard Business Review study, 77% of respondents said good employees will look for a new job if their current role does not provide the tools, technology, or information they need to work to the best of their ability. But even for those that aren’t eyeing up their next career move, the wrong software can have a damaging impact. It’s also about morale and team cohesion. By involving end-users in software-making decisions from the outset, employees will feel more respected and empowered, leading to improved overall morale. These conversations should lead to a refresh of the technology landscape and enable teams to make the shift to ‘living digital’.
Change management to mitigate risks
Businesses looking to introduce new tools or processes will need to consider how to minimise the impact of change and improve change rollout efficiency, as well as how the new technologies will enable them to get the most out of their employees.
Organisations should also consider the shifting demographics of the workforce. Millennials are often seen as the drivers of workspace change, when in fact, the demand is multi-generational. Employers need to strike a balance between appealing to digital natives without alienating experienced workers, some of whom may have been with the company and worked with legacy software for a long time. This leaves organisations with a need to transform the working environment, whilst meeting the complex expectations of their workforce.
Business leaders need to quickly adapt and foster an environment where innovation is embraced, and new technology adoption can be effectively exploited. Those that can empower their workforce to help drive digital transformation will be on the winning side.
At a time when employers are trying their hardest to keep their home-based employees energised and engaged in their work, it’s important that they consider the technology solutions they’re asking them to use. Having the right technology can speed up decision-making by enhancing collaboration, delivering the information directly to the employees’ fingertips and providing real-time, group communication. The impact of empowered employees, where users can access any application they require, translates to a more productive workforce, which ultimately contributes to improving the overall performance of the company.
About the Author
Simon Johnson is UK general manager at Freshworks. Freshworks provides organizations of all sizes with SaaS customer engagement solutions that make it easy for support, sales and marketing professionals to communicate effectively with customers for better service and collaborate with team members to resolve customer issues.
Featured image: ©Kite_Rin