Top 3 strategies for creating a truly efficient digital workplace

Rare is the business that hasn’t been materially impacted by the spread of COVID-19. Employees and leadership have had to learn, some for the first time, whether they’re “work-at-home people,” and that’s presuming they’ve retained their jobs. But for organizations that embrace digital-forward ways of working, the rewards can far outweigh the challenges.

ARTICLE | 5m read
June 18, 2020

To investigate further, Citrix spoke with three business leaders to identify the challenges and opportunities of a distributed workforce. Their answers illuminated three clear strategies that organizations can adopt to thrive in this difficult yet exhilarating time.

Align strategy among leadership

Despite their joint role in shaping the employee experience, IT and HR rarely meet in the middle. A lack of mutual understanding is a recipe for inefficiency in the best of times, but with teams now physically separated, it’s a potent liability. Without clear custodianship, a vacuum can result in which no single executive feels responsible for employees’ digital work experience. IT and HR must view the creation of a digital-first workplace as a shared project in which both departments play critical roles. Indeed, a collaborative approach between HR and IT can spur collaboration among line-of-business leaders as well.

Lindsay McGregor, co-founder and CEO of Vega Factor, a remote working consultancy, believes that combined economic and emotional pressures can force employees into a type of anxiety-induced inertia. Her suggestion is a unified leadership strategy in which IT and HR work together to find ways for employees to have a continued impact. “Aiming to reduce the pressure won’t increase motivation, and won’t move the needle on these external forces,” she says. “So it’s more important than ever to double down on the direct motives: play, purpose and potential.”

In research conducted on behalf of Citrix by The Economist Intelligence Unit, leadership and management were found to far outstrip other contributing factors, including pay, in terms of importance to the employee experience. Before employees can thrive in the digital workspace, it’s essential to confirm that leadership is aligned to the common project of building a digital-first workplace. “By balancing tactical and adaptive performance,” says McGregor, “peak results can be realized.”

Prioritize digital wellness

In an on-site workplace, digital wellness refers to a healthy and positive relationship with the technology we use at work. But in a moment such as this, ensuring digital wellness of your workforce can be much harder to achieve. Getting this right is arguably today’s most pressing business need, because employees and employers may not be turning back. In research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Citrix, over three-quarters of more than 3,700 IT leaders in seven countries surveyed believe a majority of workers will be reluctant to return to the office as it was.

Meghan Biro is the founder and CEO of TalentCulture, a marketing communications consultancy dedicated to rethinking the modern workplace. She suggests that a business should provide every employee, regardless of location, with the same quality tools—so that they all share a consistent user experience. “I think we’re going to see organizations reaching into remote working environments to ensure that happens,” she says.

“It’s like the three-legged stool analogy: if one of the legs is off, your whole balance is off, too,” she adds. With 41% of surveyed high-performing organizations managing the impact of technology on employee experience as an explicit goal, the better your technology is implemented, the data suggests that happier and more productive your employees will be.

AIMING TO REDUCE THE PRESSURE WON'T INCREASE MOTIVATION, AND WON'T MOVE THE NEEDLE ON THESE EXTERNAL FORCES. SO IT'S MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER TO DOUBLE DOWN ON THE DIRECT MOTIVES: PLAY, PURPOSE, AND POTENTIAL.

Lindsay McGregor
Co-founder and CEO
Vega Factor
 

Adopt the right tools and tech for success

A convergence of global tech and business trends—be it 5G, industrial IoT, embedded smart tech or real-time analytics, to name just a few—were marching forward well before recent global disruptions. But even the most bullish tech evangelists might not have anticipated how quickly, or how immediately, the need for remote-work best practices would arise.

Dion Hinchcliffe, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research, creates leadership strategies for digital transformation. From his point of view, 2020 has already opened our eyes to the strengths and weaknesses of our current digital workforce capabilities. “Next-generation employee experience platforms will have to be much more integrated, seamless, contextual and personalized,” he says. “And a new generation of applications designed to address the potential downsides of remote work will continue to emerge and be adopted.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s research surfaced that over one-third of surveyed executives strongly agreed that the applications and devices their organization provides make a positive contribution to their employees’ working experience. But digital innovation isn’t just shooting fish in a barrel. To ensure success your organization must develop solutions with user-centricity in mind.

NEXT-GENERATION EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE PLATFORMS WILL HAVE TO BE MUCH MORE INTEGRATED, SEAMLESS, CONTEXTUAL, AND PERSONALIZED.

Dion Hinchcliffe
VP and Principal Analyst
Constellation Research

31%

of HR respondents strongly agree that managing the impact of technology on the employee experience is an explicit goal of their HR strategy.

44%

of respondents strongly agree that badly chosen or implemented workplace technology can have a negative impact on the employee experience.

Technology shapes the experience of work

When it comes to creating a truly standout remote working experience, leadership is still largely on a reactive footing. But for digitally mature organizations, the path to success is already defined. By aligning leadership, prioritizing digital wellness and ensuring workplace technology is well integrated and unobtrusive, organizations are equipped to make remote working work.

The pandemic may have taken employees out of their offices and leadership out of their comfort zones, but that doesn’t mean your teams won’t do some of the best work of their lives under these conditions. A digital workspace can create a better environment for your employees—and with it, a better outlook for your organization.

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