What Does Your Workplace Technology Say About Your Commitment To Employee Engagement?

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on February 6, 2020
The Next Generation of IWMS: iXMS

Technology should provide solutions to problems, not exacerbate or create new ones.

Amidst a digital age characterized by forward-motion, emerging technologies continue creating new and exciting ways of easing the various challenges we face everyday. In the workplace, the line between the digital and physical workspace is incredibly thin, and seemingly getting thinner. Workplace management software bridges how employees experience the two, smoothing out the interactions they have, simplifying their workdays and alleviating complications.

While the benefits of technology on employee experience far outweigh any negatives, the need to effectively manage tools is crucial. For the most part, technology in the workplace solves a multitude of problems. However, there can be times when it exacerbates or even creates new ones.

The Problem With Nonintuitive Technology

The workplace technology you implement must accommodate the actual people who make up your workforce. Your employees shouldn’t be asked to stretch to meet the needs of nonintuitive technology. For instance, if your role at work requires frequent travel and mobility, but the technology needed to complete important tasks is only compatible with desktop computers, your digital experience may feel confusing and difficult to interact with. iOFFICE firmly believes in the power of workplace solutions that make work lives genuinely easier. Anything that is overly complicated doesn’t do that.

Technology can put a barrier between employees and effective work if it:

  • Requires an unwanted change in behavior
  • Requires working in disengaging ways to use
  • Is overly complicated and non-intuitive
  • Is confusing or time-consuming to learn
  • Has a difficult implementation process
  • Does not integrate with other workplace tools

If your workplace ‘solution’ doesn’t effectively solve any problems, it’s not actually a solution. So, can technology even solve ‘people problems’? The answer: Yes, as long as it is human-focused.

The Impact on Engagement

When workplace management is not carefully aligned with employee use and expectations, navigating the workplace experience becomes riddled with difficulty, not only slowing down momentum for the company, but also reducing the impact of innovation. Inefficient tools, poor implementation and adoption, and non-maintainable processes that don’t scale can hamper productivity and hurt the bottom-line.

Don’t add more friction when you’re working on solving existing challenges. Enable a space that eases problems and promotes growth. Choosing great solutions requires workplace leaders to tie together the technical tools we use with the human elements at the heart of the workplace experience –from the beginning and not as an afterthought.

So how do you ensure that your digital tools adapt to the actual users and not the other way around?

What your workplace technology should solve depends on what your employees’ needs are.

Today, you can’t talk about a successful workplace without including employee experience in the conversation. Organizations are in a position of influence that comes with the responsibility to build a better work experience for their employees. A better workplace is based on agility, enablement, and mutual trust.

Organizations establish credibility by offering support and having purpose-built solutions. Three major actions that are required:

  • Detect pain points that impede productive work
  • Deliberately address the various challenges that are faced
  • Enable employees with the right tools and resources

Identify and Remove Barriers to Employee Engagement

Determine which actions work well and which do not. Forward-thinking businesses rely on creating positive digital experiences as a critical component of improving employee engagement. It seems clear that there’s an emphasis on the need to deliver a seamless, purposeful employee experience. Business leaders need to acknowledge the impact of the tools employees use in their day-to-day work and embrace the opportunity to improve their interactions – and ultimately their engagement.

As the organizational psychologist Adam Grant wrote, “Choose the workplace where success comes from making others successful.”

Proceed With Purpose: Consider Your Specific Business Needs

Emphasizing the employee’s place within the larger web of the organization takes meaningful, strategic, and future-minded business decisions. Organizations need to introduce systems and tools that measurably improve the lives and experiences of the people who work for them.

Automating time-consuming manual tasks eliminates tedium and frees your employees up to complete higher-level work. Reallocate the time spent on the minutiae of work towards higher level tasks. That not only produces better work results, it also reduces the frustrations associated with any unenjoyable components of their job. 

Identifying any barriers requires having a comprehensive, holistic view of your operations, like the level of visibility that an IWMS solution provides.

Workplace management must go beyond process optimization. Focusing solely on the productivity and employee output overlooks your most valuable assets – the employees themselves. The value of employee engagement on productivity and efficiency relies heavily on how they interact and experience the work environment. Failing to acknowledge that is a huge barrier to success– both in terms of your workforce’s wellbeing and your bottom-line.

Harmonize the Touchpoints Between Digital and Physical Elements

Now that we’ve entered the era of digitalization in the workplace, it’s clear the physical and the digital experiences need to align. We need to consider the complete, end-to-end employee experience straight from the get-go.

That’s accomplished when companies:

  • Harmonize the touchpoints between the workplace and employees
  • Tie the tools and systems together and don’t have too many
  • Centralize any disparate systems to avoid disconnection and inconsistency
  • Align the technology and space with the expectations of your employees
  • Invest in useful solutions that enable your workers
  • Iterate and improve your workplace management strategy
  • Bridge gaps by analyzing operational data in context
  • Proactively address any issues

Prepare For What’s Ahead Without Sacrificing Employee Experience

Employee engagement strategies are inherently complex – because your employees are inherently complex. Which makes a lack of information a big problem, but it’s not the only one. Just collecting and storing data doesn’t apply the knowledge into an actionable plan. Failing to take action can translate to a high cost in terms of wasted time and poorly laid out plans. And an uninspired strategy does little to engage the people relied on to power the business. All hope is not lost, though — there is a solution.

Embrace Agile Solutions

Companies need tools that are able to adapt and scale as the company grows and changes. Workplace technologies should not be rigid; they should be as flexible as the humans and the workplace ecosystem that they’re made for. Many variables are dynamic and the tools we use must address that reality.

Consider some factors that vary at any given time:

  • Company priorities
  • Dynamics of the market
  • Preferences of employees
  • Factors that influence business practices
  • Available technology
  • Interaction methods
  • Other physical space needs

Create an agile landscape by removing bottlenecks between processes, and let the ideas flow. Proceed purposefully. To scale and move forward, faster, you need the infrastructure in place and you need to develop the frameworks that reinforce your purpose.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Constant changes to the workplace ecosystem can lead to an overwhelming amount of information to track and manage. Yet, understanding that data could be the difference between staying ahead or falling behind. Delivering a seamless, purposeful experience starts with data. The lack of visibility – especially across different spaces, employees, assets – blocks meaningful change. In the absence of real understanding, decisions are made with assumptions and guesswork.

Integrated workplace management platforms connect disparate workplace technologies and offer transparency and insights into how employees are using your space. Suddenly, you’ll be able to see what is working and what isn’t in the context of your own business operations. Every choice you make becomes more meaningful. Not only are you better equipped to answer and solve the “why”, you’ll have a more holistic view of your organization and the way employees interact with it.

Therefore, addressing their needs and crafting impactful business decisions requires the ability to analyze real-time data and contextual information to forecast and prepare for what’s ahead, without sacrificing the experience your employees have in the workplace.

Don’t Be Led By Technology, Lead With Technology

Aim to be digitally-integrated, not digitally led. Having new technology for the sake of having it is wasteful and doesn’t improve the lives of your employees. As the digital and physical elements in the workplace continue to fuse, useful solutions should catch up to address the new reality.

Organizations should consider what functional challenges stand in the way of truly great workplace experiences – ones that are conducive to effective and meaningful work. Aim to manage the tools, workflow, processes and collaboration in ways that enable the best work and provide a positive end-to-end employee experience. Ultimately, that’s what will make your entire business run more smoothly. 


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

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