In HR, we talk about workplace transformation pretty regularly. But what does it actually mean? In this mini-series, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to help you understand each type of transformation—and how you can foster it across your organization.
Technological breakthroughs like cloud computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence have revolutionized the workplace, and they are changing the way IT departments operate. Whereas these teams used to function in the background, maintaining technology and supporting the digital systems that help businesses run smoothly, today, they often prioritize innovation. Modern IT teams have shifted their focus toward upgrading outdated technology and implementing digital solutions that streamline operations. In other words, they specialize in digital transformation.
What Does IT Do?
The IT department is so much more than a digital maintenance crew. Its employees also handle data management, computer and wireless systems, network security, hardware repair, maintenance and upgrades. IT is also responsible for a company’s software portfolio, weighing in on which software to provide company employees. These professionals also organize the installation and troubleshooting of that software once it’s implemented.
While other departments within a company go about their business, IT is continuously assessing the efficiency of its processes and how they help—or hinder—the company’s overall performance. Using this information, IT realigns its strategies, selecting new vendors and products, and eliminating constraints to the company’s digital workflow whenever possible.
But with modern business demands constantly evolving, there are a number of challenges and opportunities that IT teams face. For instance, cross-team collaboration between members of IT and the rest of your organization can be difficult if the department has typically functioned only in the background. And sometimes, the goals of HR and IT departments are at odds with one another: While HR teams might want quick access to data when answering employee or business questions, IT teams prevent them from doing so with data security and role-based access. No matter how challenging, this collaboration is the key to developing a more digitally agile workplace. So to facilitate a successful digital transformation, HR must bridge the gap between IT and the rest of the workforce.
Foster Cooperation by Breaking Down Barriers
Although IT should continue to function as its own department, HR can work in tandem with IT to implement digital transformation strategies. The best way to do this is by breaking down the barriers that separate IT from the rest of the company. An open dialogue with IT helps workers get more efficient technology that makes their jobs simpler rather than more complicated, and IT staff can do their jobs more easily when they hear about the company’s needs straight from employees rather than filtered through secondary sources.
To enable this dialogue, establish collaborative pathways between the two groups. This starts on a personal level. Schedule times when workers can meet the IT staff face-to-face (or via video messaging tools like Zoom or Webex, if your workers operate remotely or from different offices) and make sure workers know the names of the IT employees who will be upgrading and servicing their technology.
Beyond the initial meeting, help both groups continue the conversation. Workers should be able to contact an IT representative regarding their concerns, and the IT department must implement a strategy to collect feedback from workers about present and future technology projects. Encourage use of tools like Slack to enable constant communication.The easier you make it for employees to touch base with their IT staff, the more likely they will.
Enhancing the IT-Workforce Relationship
HR’s role in maintaining an effective relationship between IT and the workforce doesn’t end after setting up this initial exchange. You should also continue educating employees about the IT department’s changing role in the digital workplace. While there was once a time when IT only repaired computers, its new role is now more fluid and involves applying, maintaining, scaling and protecting all of the digital components of your company’s daily tasks.
Go a step further by creating an innovation council. Recruit representatives from each of your company’s departments and schedule regular times for them to come together and discuss the digital barriers the company faces. IT will work with them to strategize potential solutions.
Don’t forget to incorporate the company’s leadership into your IT development plans. Leaders should have a direct hand in all major IT decisions, even though many of those in executive roles do not have technology backgrounds. Bridge the gap between your IT department and leadership by organizing opportunities for IT to educate key internal stakeholders on new technological and organizational advances. One way to do this is to set up times for your innovation council to present ideas and solutions—focusing on what they can do to make jobs easier and more efficient—before leaders make final decisions on implementing new technology.
With the right processes in place, your organization will be well-equipped to leverage the expertise your IT team offers, and, in turn, remain at the forefront of the digital revolution.
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The Modern Workforce Favors Flexibility and Digital Collaboration
This is the third in a series of articles we’re doing around our annual State of Workplace Productivity survey. Read a summary of the full survey here . And for our findings on extreme workloads, click here. The always-on, always-working mindset has caught on, largely due to the rise of technology and the demand for more flexible workplaces. While initially introduced to boost employee satisfaction, flexible policies and technology use actually have a greater impact on productivity, and ultimately business performance. The environment in which people work affects how productive they are. Nearly two in three employees think a flexible and remote work schedule increases productivity, according to a recent survey by Cornerstone OnDemand. The most productive work environment is an enclosed office, followed by partitioned cubicles, open desk layout and working remotely, accordingly. While working in an enclosed office is the most promising for productivity, a good chunk of employees — 19 percent — say working remotely is the most productive environment, likely due to the fact that they can control the distractions around them. Forty-three percent of employees say impromptu visits by colleagues are distracting, according to the survey. Digital Communication Enables Remote Workers Even though some employees prefer work from home policies, only one in five are allowed to work remotely. True, employees can’t communicate with colleagues in-person, but the majority of workplace communication happens digitally anyway. Nearly two in five employees believe emails and instant messages allow them to be more productive than having in-person or phone conversations. The percentage of employees that prefer in-person collaboration compared to digital collaboration is decreasing — 63 percent this year compared to 71 percent last year. But there’s a fine balance for using online communication to boost or destroy productivity. Some employees find emails, social media alerts and instant messages to be distracting, so be sure that employees know what kind of communication their colleagues prefer. The key to high productivity and flexible work schedules is arming employees with the right technology. Almost two out of three employees agree that given the right technology, in-person meeting can be replaced completely. Digital natives are demanding a more flexible workplace, and companies are listening and changing accordingly, but more need to put their employees first and do so faster. To read more findings from The State of Workplace Productivity Report, click here. And take a look at our infographic on how workspace matters:
Preparing Your Workforce for Digital Transformation
Make talent development a priority in the age of digital disruption Ready or not – digital transformation is here. With technology developing more rapidly than ever, the way we do business is changing and it affects everything from customer acquisition and our product offerings, to our tools and processes, to our workforce and work environments. To succeed in a rapidly changing market, organizations must adapt their talent management practices to reflect new digital innovations and processes. Constellation Research discovered that industry-leading companies' ability to adapt to digital disruption was a key factor in their long-term success. As many organizations begin to radically reimagine how they leverage technology and processes, a need for a new talent development strategy arises. No organization wants to be left behind because they failed to adapt well enough or fast enough to the changing digital landscape. So, how can organizations disrupt their talent development strategies to help succeed in the age of digital transformation? How to futureproof your organization in the age of digital transformation It's a sobering fact: Talent development strategies that worked in the past may no longer work in the near future. Human Resources (HR) and Learning and Development (L&D) teams must become true business partners and create a continuous, hyper-connected development experience for people that aligns to the ever-shifting goals of the business. This eBook offers research-backed strategies that will show you how to create a digitally centered, learning-focused talent development environment that will help your organization keep its competitive edge in the era of digital transformation. You'll gain insights into: Determining your organization’s level of digital transformation preparedness Coaching strategies to prep your workforce for digital transformation How to champion a culture of learning to enable ongoing employee skill development Download our eBook to discover the talent development best practices you – and your people – need in order to futureproof your organization while putting your people in the driver’s seat of their own experience.
5 Tips for Crisis Management in the Digital Age
Crisis management is a tool many leaders keep in their toolkit, but secretly hope they never need to use on a grand scale. While minor situations arise regularly in the course of business, larger scale issues can end careers and destroy entire corporate profiles if handled incorrectly. We need only look to Equifax and their epic data breach, which called for the release of their CEO and launched a Department of Justice investigation, to see the sweeping impact of poorly handled crises. Many of us might say what we "would" do if we were in such a situation, but until it happens, we really have no idea. This is where crisis communications becomes incredibly important, and HR plays a pivotal role. It's been said failure to plan is planning to fail, and never is this old adage more true than ensuring a strategy to handle a large-scale public relations disaster. As we now live in a time now where cloud-based technology is more prevalent, the digital realm is the new marketplace, and crises of this magnitude and type will happen more frequently, leadership must be prepared in advance to manage crisis in the digital age. Establish Personalities in Advance of the Crisis One of the benefits of social media and the 24/7 news cycle is that it provides opportunity to raise the public profile of anyone and everyone. While it's not necessary that all corporate leadership be incredibly active on social media from a personal perspective, it is extremely important that the company be proactive in building trust from the beginning. Get your leadership in front of your customers and communicate frequently across traditional and social media. It creates a personal connection with your company and shows there are people behind the issues. Gather Around the Message Immediately When the world of communication works on a 24/7 cycle, so must your leadership team. Have emergency communication protocols in place and ensure that they're followed. Your team must get on board with a strategic, unified message immediately and follow your crisis communication plan, which should be in place and reviewed every 3-6 months. Communicate with Employees Your best course of action is to communicate immediately and to arm all those involved with everything they need to communicate that not only are you on top of the matter, but that it won't happen again. This not only encompasses conversations with external media, but also includes conversations with your employees to ensure they can pivot with the leadership team and remain connected to your overall vision. Deploy Your Leadership Brand An established leadership brand is one of the greatest corporate assets during times of corporate strife. Your leadership brand usually emanates from your CEO, but it's more about what your leaders are known for in your organization, and it informs how your employees should act at all times. It also means that individuals at all levels instinctively know how to conduct themselves in a crisis because it's ingrained in the corporate culture and everything they do. They put the customer first, they protect the corporate identity and they remain focused on the cause. Practice Humility Finally, one of the greatest assets in our leadership arsenal is also the oldest in the book: be humble. In this fast-paced world, mistakes are bound to happen. Admitting fault and owning up to one's mistakes quickly is something that separates great leaders from those who inevitably fail. Photo: Creative Commons