The Zinnov Confluence 2017 in Bengaluru focused on the theme - Towards a new world order, at warp speed, including one of the key tracks Workplace 2.0: Re-Imagining Experience. The track focused on various aspects of Workplace 2.0 including Talent acquisition v/s Skill acquisition; Technology, Personalization and HR as well as Owning Employee Experience.
Owning Employee Experience: Focus
It is a dream of every organization to create a workspace where employees want to turn up to work instead of one where they have to turn up. Employee experience - the bulwark of any business is one of the biggest focus areas for enterprises in recent times. But where do companies start? How do you scale it across locations and demographics? How long will it take? While traditionally HR has been the primary custodian of employee well-being, in today's context, employee experience stems from an interplay of the physical, technological environments and cultural elements at work. The enablers for these cut across functions. So, who should hold accountability for Employee Experience? Find out in this engaging panel discussion.
Aricent CIO Sudhir Reddy who was on the panel discussing ‘Owning Employee Experience’ had several critical insights:
- Digital & physical experience both define the employee experience and organizations should believe in providing a holistic experience.
- From aesthetic work places, which foster collaboration to fully integrated digital portals that boost productivity, everything should be based on human centred design principles.
- At Aricent we recently launched a unified corporate portal called ‘Aricent world’ which incorporates social tools, a robust search engine, an app centre, project work spaces and it is as simple as a consumer website to navigate. Employees should experience a sense of pride being associated with organization’s processes, digital tools and technologies; not a sense of burden.
- He stressed that same regard and focus that goes into building a consumer product must go into building an employee product.
- He closed his argument with the question - Can an employee walk in, be seamlessly connected to tools, colleagues and knowledge base of the company… Is your digital workspace as simple to use as Amazon, facebook or Google? If not, that is what we should be aiming to achieve!
- For the question on who owns employee experience… his response is ‘every manager and leader of the organization’. Unless this aspect gets tied to the culture and values of the company, it is not possible give the ‘employee first’ feeling.
What’s next for workplace 2.0: Do you live to work or work to live?
An effective work environment is no longer a nice-to-have option for businesses. It is a prerequisite. A recent survey found that nearly 90 percent of employees were not happy with their work environments. That should worry employers. Why? It has never been easier to change jobs. Thanks to online job portals, switching your workplace is only a few clicks away.
As work and home life merge, in their quest to make the workplace more appealing to staff, offices have added gyms, yoga studios, laundry services and even hairdressers. A business in Canada installed a three-storey slide and if that was not enough, an employer in South Africa even built a shooting range. Nothing is off limits it seems! No doubt that these add-ons certainly make work life fun - but is this what workers really want?
Digitization of the workplace
A study conducted by the British Council for Offices provides valuable insight. Most workers wanted their employers to get the basics right. That includes desk space, good meeting rooms, lighting, heating, good ventilation etc. That’s a given. The research found what staff valued most was a workplace where their employers would listen to their needs, provide insight and help to boost not just their well-being, but crucially productivity. This might seem a common sense approach, but in the rush to create funky workspaces - some employers have overlooked the fundamental necessities.
However, where do companies start? Harness technology to create workplace 2.0.
Already some offices are using smart devices and sensors, part of the Internet of Things (IoT), to create engaging workspaces. Sensors are not used for just lighting and heating. When Boston Consulting Group (BCG) moved into its Manhattan offices, employees voluntarily wore microphones and sensors. The data was anonymized and it helped BCG make informed decisions about office layout to make the teams even more productive. There is IoT-based technology and the frameworks for businesses to adopt that can make the workspace highly efficient and constructive for staff. There are example of these technologies already in use - they used on customers.
Intelligent productivity boost
Businesses from cruise ships to theme parks use sensors and wearables to deliver an engaging experience for clients. Similar technology can deliver a radically new experience for staff in an office. To deliver this innovative solution for the workplace, we have developed Aricent World. With our framework and expertise, employers can provide a holistic experience for staff by integrating the digital, social and physical workplace. Put simply, it is an intelligent solution that can be shaped to meet employee needs and be at their beck and call to boost productivity.
There are limitless possibilities for how businesses can transform their organization. Employers can host knowledge bases, feedback modules and HR functionalities on one platform to provide instant answers whenever and wherever employees require assistance. Businesses can address policy, education or role-related issues with immediate feedback for faster decision-making. Crucially, it can also provide instant gratification to motivate staff and be a smart, lean and agile communications system.
Are employees ready for workplace 2.0?
Research conducted by PwC found that 65% of employees were ready for wearables in offices. Unsurprisingly, the study showed that a majority of millennials were most likely to share data and use new technologies in the workplace. There is a host of technological advances in people’s personal lives – from smartphones to AI-based devices such as Alexa to 360-degree cameras for Virtual Reality. These advances have created expectations of a workplace that feels and functions similar to the technology available at home. As such, employees can utilize new technology and benefit from working in an organization that fosters cooperation, creativity and productivity.
A benefit of workplace 2.0 is the ability to upskill and reskill existing members of staff more efficiently. This is an effective solution to a challenge faced by some industries. For example in India, when multinational (MNC) and global in-house centres (GIC) required new talent, they usually sourced it via System Integrators. This is no longer a viable option; the MNC-GIC ecosystem in the country has matured and the talent pool has shrunk. Companies are now looking at new ways to reskill and upskill existing staff to take on new challenges. As such, a workplace where new technology can facilitate the provision of continuous and immediate training would not only benefit members of staff - the employer would almost seamlessly be able to bridge any skills gap.
In pursuit of happiness
This continuous improvement process is what most organizations would adopt for development and operations (DevOps) to refine and improve a product. It is a tried and tested methodology. So, why not adopt the same process to help staff and boost productivity in the workplace? And the technology can manage each member of staff during the employee lifecycle from attraction, recruitment, onboarding to development and retention.
It might sound like the bleeding obvious, but when designing and developing the workplace of the future, it is important to get the basics right. Some of the trendiest workplaces in the world are in San Francisco. Yet 80% of tech workers surveyed from a pool of 5000 revealed that they were not happy with their jobs. Happiness in a job is critical. Can technology make staff happy? Yes, says American furniture giant Haworth who conducted extensive studies with sensors. The company discovered that advanced IoT-based sensors could contribute to staff happiness and reduce stress.
In the future, an employee would walk into the office and be seamlessly digitized into the workplace. It will keep staff happy, boost productivity and ultimately lead to economic betterment - workplace 2.0 is something we should aspire to achieve!