Putting the digital workspace at the heart of employee engagement: 3 steps to success

Retaining and engaging valuable employees has long been a challenge for organizations. As businesses move to new working models, those that overlook the importance of the digital workspace will struggle to hold on to their best and brightest at a time when acquiring new talent is harder than ever.

The question of retaining valuable employees is one that constantly challenges many employers. It is not a new trend; the war for talent has been keeping decision makers awake at night for many years. It’s a similar story with improving worker productivity, which has been a problem both at a business level and a wider country level in many parts of the world for some time.

However, there is now greater urgency, as both have been brought into sharp relief by the pandemic. With the world in the midst of what many are calling “The Great Resignation,” and companies fighting like never before to attract talent, retaining those workers is vital if the overall economic recovery is not to be slowed down.

The end of the engaged employee?

At their heart, both issues are about engagement. Engaged employees are more productive and more loyal, with Gallup noting that “Organizations with high employee engagement were more resilient and able to weather the many challenges that came with a pandemic, an economic collapse and societal unrest.” Yet just 20% of global workers are engaged at work, leaving businesses with an increasingly disengaged workforce that struggles to be productive and is also more likely to leave.

Driving better employee engagement is not easy. It requires a complex mix of empathetic and visionary management, work that matters and the right environment. Trying to boost it now is even harder considering we are witnessing the greatest shift in working patterns in memory. Employers are wrestling with the right working model for them, trying to balance the needs of the business with the demands of empowered employees.

A hybrid workforce with complex demands

According to GlobalData, many employees want more flexibility in their future work arrangements. The majority of workers favour a hybrid model and expect flexibility, great tools and equipment in place to unleash their full potential and inspire a passion for the company. Your brand needs to be attractive to those employees you want to hire and keep, and the workspace is a big part of the story.

Changes to working models require changes to workspaces. Many organizations have already started this transition, but for most it will be an organic evolution. While specific requirements will differ from company to company, there are a number of common themes that all businesses should consider when implementing a flexible digital workspace strategy.

In the rush to deploy a new hybrid working model, organizations may find that further investment is needed. Now is the time to consider whether they have the right tools and infrastructure in place to deliver a digital workspace fit for a post-COVID world.

The continuation, not the beginning, of workspace transformation

In the early days of the pandemic, many businesses acquired applications and services that help employees collaborate and communicate with colleagues, irrespective of location, to maintain business continuity. Yet companies that think those investments will be sufficient to enable new working models could find themselves struggling to adapt.

That’s because those solutions were deployed with one strategy in mind: keeping the company operational. Now, with competing priorities, a new strategy is required, one that accommodates user needs and preferences while supporting the objectives of the business. The strategy needs to cover everything, including apps and devices, reorganizing infrastructure to support this new, flexible digital workspace, and redesigning supporting processes. It is also vital to recognize that it is not a standalone project; workspace transformation is deeply intertwined with the organization’s wider digital transformation program.

There needs to be a shift from a set up that has evolved organically, to one that has been specifically designed to meet the needs of the entire organization. It is a complex process that needs much consideration.

The areas to consider when building a digital workspace at the heart of employee engagement

Although the strategy will differ from business to business, there are a number of common themes that decision makers should be considering when designing and implementing a strategic flexible digital workspace.

1. Putting the user at the center of the workspace

First and foremost, the focus has to be on the user. While much of the discussion will be on technology, the end goal is to support people to work effectively. Whether starting from scratch or adapting existing workspaces, every decision needs to be informed by what suits individuals, from the types of devices they will or are using, to where they want to work.

2. Understand and guide your users

User adoption is also critical. Through workshops, ongoing coaching and enhanced self-service support, businesses need to make sure their users can get the most out of apps and services. It is no good investing in a completely new way of working if people quickly revert to traditional approaches that fail to make the best use of the apps and services available. This isn’t just to ensure return on investment, but also to drive engagement; workers that feel unable or ill-equipped to work properly are more likely to be disengaged, have low productivity and ultimately impact business performance.

3. Employee experience comes first

Companies need to know what their workforce wants, how they work and what tools they need to achieve that. Even if the business intends to have everyone back in the office full-time, they need to be conscious that expectations have changed, and that employees may consider leaving if they don’t feel the user experience meets their requirements.

Be aware that a well implemented digital workspace contributes to employee satisfaction by making their workday more efficient. Today’s applications are delivered from multiple sources or locations, but from the employees’ experience this should be consumed way easier. A workspace portal can resolve this.

Transformation partner

Changing the fabric of work is a significant undertaking for any organization, no matter how well resourced. As with any major transformation, it will require input from partners.

Businesses wanting to create a future-proofed, flexible digital workspace that suits their requirements should consider how an external transformation and managed services partner could not only identify the right solutions, but cover everything from start to finish.

From initial fact-finding and persona investigation, through design and into the provisioning and integrating of the infrastructure and apps, all with ongoing guidance and technical support, it is the sort of counsel Orange Business provides to our customers as they navigate new ways of working.