Does Your Digital Workplace Design Help Employees Get Work Done?
Doing a job well, especially a routine job, matters. Devoting just a little bit more preparation and focus not only will prevent a lot of complaints from external or internal customers, but is often cheaper and more rewarding.
Any internal service provider — be they from HR, IT, finance or any operationally-focused department — looking to improve the quality of the interactions with their internal customers should pay attention to a few factors.
Can People Access the Information They Need?
Often times when people fail to perform a task correctly it's due to information being hidden in a maze of corporate repositories, not because they didn't have access to the right information.
Yet when information is not easily accessible, it's as good as being unavailable. And in those circumstances when the correct information is unavailable, the decisions people make may not be the best course of action. So, whatever the task, make sure your digital workplace is able to extract and present all the information related to the topic at hand, no matter where the information is stored.
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Is There a Knowledge Base to Support Beginners?
Whatever the topic, things work better when the people whose work relates to the topic at hand (internal customer, process support staff, process owner, product expert) communicate better.
When a beginner is shadowed by a more experienced person they're less likely to make mistakes. If the digital workplace delivers the same support from the expert in the organization under the form of a knowledge base, things are less likely to go wrong, and support costs are lower as well.
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Improve the Management of Why, How and What
When I work with people trying to improve their internal services, I use an extension of Simon Sinek’s 'Why, How and What' model to improve internal communications.
Communicate the Correct Why
People in a company approach tasks with different priorities.
Let’s take the case of regular equipment maintenance. One person might consider this a waste of time and wait until the last minute to execute the task, paying poor attention to detail. Another person might see it as a way to prevent future problems and will do the work diligently, knowing it will ultimately save time in the long run.
Being able to convey why these tasks are important to employees is critical. Good managers know how to motivate people to do such tasks for the right reasons. When this happens, the quality of the output improves.
Deliver the How
Very often, especially when dealing with less common topics, employees can't quickly find basic resources such as forms and procedures. Once again, getting quick access to the right information is important.
Add to this the fact that frequent changes in the workplace are often communicated — via broadcast — only once. Managers then assume staff will remember the change when the time comes around, but unfortunately, this is not the case. This causes a significant source of operational errors, because people simply forget.
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Therefore, it is important to continually update instructions related to tasks with all the latest news and changes.
Training is essential, yet some studies show people forget most of the information they learn within days. Therefore, just-in-time training should be a requisite of your digital workplace.
We occasionally need support for the most trivial tasks. And if it's unclear who to ask for help (which is the case in most organizations), you'll likely have problems completing the task correctly.
Sometimes things go wrong because the employee isn't given the right tools or up-to-date instructions. In such cases, a feedback channel on the digital workplace allows employees to report hurdles and obstacles — as well as praise and other positive feedback — to the person in charge and to the project teams that spent nights working to deliver better solutions for their colleagues.
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Consolidate the What
Consider this example: A utility company invested heavily by adding workflows to several business-line applications. Initially, the results were great. Approvals were getting in as expected. Over time, the number of workflows grew and email communication grew concurrently.
As a result, managers were no longer approving requests in a timely fashion simply because the requests were lost in a sea of emails. They decided to consolidate all the tasks on the homepage of the intranet. Once this happened, the approvals started to arrive in a timely fashion.
People perform better when somebody (or something) organizes their work. It reduces stress levels and improves productivity.
Make sure that, whatever the topic or the task, your digital workplace is able to support your colleagues to deliver and receive better service. It will be well worth it.
(As a side note: These same concepts can help to improve delivery of external services too.)
About the Author
Cristian Salanti is working as a Digital Employee Experience Architect at Zenify.net. He has been developing Intranets for the past 20 years. He is advocating for a more practical, managerial approach to Digital workplace design.