Why this is just the beginning: Understanding the opportunity behind a digital-first workplace

Claudia Piscitelli, Change & Adoption Lead

A few short weeks ago, we were humbled to be recognised with an Advanced Specialisation in Adoption and Change Management by Microsoft. We are one of only two partners in Australia who have achieved this specialisation. Receiving that news reminded me of why I love what I do, and it got me thinking about the role of change management and technology as enablers for transformation. Plenty of businesses were already on the path to digital transformation well before the impacts of Covid-19 hit. But what was originally a five-year plan has been accelerated to mere weeks because of the pandemic. As the old saying goes – necessity is the mother of invention.

As conversations around returning to the workplace start to emerge, it’s important for companies to apply a long-term lens to their business strategy. One that carefully considers both the employee and customer experience, and the role technology will play to support those experiences. While the easing of restrictions will mean a return to the office for some, there will be a large cohort of workers and employers who will continue to work remotely for some time.

We are well and truly in the middle of creating a new future for our working lives and the way business is done. Companies like Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook have already begun planning for remote work to become a staple for future and current employees. So, what does this mean in practice? And how can companies gain a competitive edge by looking at the opportunities that come with a digital-first business strategy?

First and foremost, the catalyst for success – whether it be to improve internal functions or better serve customers – is investing in the right technology. Many of us have experienced first-hand how technologies such as Microsoft Teams can enable businesses to ‘keep the lights on’ by helping us communicate and collaborate with each other. Over the past few weeks, I have seen and been part of a lot of discussions around rapid deployment of cloud technology to support remote working. But introducing these technologies is only the very beginning. I have always believed it is not the technology but how we use it that drives value and outcomes.

Before the pandemic, companies like Microsoft were already investing big to help organisations get the most out of their people by empowering them with the right technology – technology that is suited to the modern landscape and the challenges we face today. Our current circumstances have only accelerated the inevitable move towards a more flexible, diverse and digital workplace. There are huge benefits that come with a business model that prioritises digital-first. For example:  

  1. It provides access to new pools of talent and, more importantly, helps retain existing talent, because there is less emphasis on being near the office and more emphasis on skills
  2. It will improve diversity and spread economic opportunity beyond bustling city centers to other regions and communities
  3. Less commute and less travel = better environment and better quality of life… need I say more?

From a change management perspective, now is the perfect time for companies to critically evaluate their long-term business model and start planning for the future. In some ways, this crisis has created the perfect storm for digital transformation in the workplace. Why? Because it has shifted everyone’s priorities. All the right players are paying attention and making changes – from executives, through to IT, HR, communications, and everyone in between.

So now that you have the right environment for change, how are you going to use it to your advantage? What new norms are you going to introduce? How are you going to use the lessons learnt from this time to transform your business? When answering these questions, make sure to consider these two crucial things:

  1. What success measures you are going to put in place to track progress and identify areas for improvement (for example, leveraging SWOOP or Workplace Analytics to capture rich insights)
  2. How your change management strategy is going to support bringing staff ‘on the journey’ to transformation. For example, who else will need to be involved and what communications and training staff may need. Because ultimately, this is about changing behaviour to drive impact.

Want to learn more? Talk to us about technology adoption and change management at info@engagesq.com.

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