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What comes first: Digital transformation or workplace modernisation

(Image credit: Image Credit: Chombosan / Shutterstock)

What comes first the chicken or the egg? The same question could be asked about digital transformation and workplace modernisation. The term digital transformation has been about for a while with companies racing to implement the latest and greatest digital technology to improve their business. It is a misconception that technology alone will transform your business and deliver on all expectations. After all, it is not the technology that will improve your business, people have to be receptive to new technologies, adaptive to new ways of working and achieving new outcomes as a result.

Workplace modernisation is a business movement that’s about engineering the right culture, business change process and customer experiences that are underpinned; but not made, by technology. It’s against implementing technology for the sake of digital transformation.  Workplace modernisation is the key to implementing new ways of working, recruiting and retaining top talent, and creating a happy, motivated workforce.

Workplace modernisation is the first and most vital stage to consider before digital transformation and needs to be applied throughout your transformation. It constantly evolves and if you don’t have a plan to prepare your workplace – ultimately you won’t be transforming anything!

Leading the way

Lead the way with workplace modernisation instead of digital transformation so the Board understand the business reasons why they would require the technology to underpin it.

Workplace modernisation ensures that all technology is integrated and blended to work in harmony. This is where you will benefit from the expertise of Solution Providers who will assist you with modernising your workplace, advising and providing you with the technology you require to improve communications and processes.

They will work closely with you to understand your business, what your objectives and strategy are. They will study your existing processes, the technology you use at present, and how it can be improved. Workplace modernisation needs to be addressed before the technology comes in, but it remains a constant consideration throughout transformation projects. 

The next stage is digital transformation and the right partner will conduct discovery workshops, host individual meetings and focus groups with different departments to discover what technology is needed. Ensuring that it is aligned to the business’s objectives, services and operations.

A healthy core

Without a robust and reliable infrastructure you won’t be able to modernise your workplace and transform your business. Cloud communications solutions are a secure and flexible platform that enable you to offer conferencing and collaboration sessions, so employees can work from any device, over any application, whenever and where ever they are. You can augment existing systems with unified communications, artificial intelligence and automation solutions. For example - using artificial intelligence in the contact centre to take over the mundane tasks from agents and enabling them to focus on more complex and higher value enquiries.

Business process automation (BPA)

Every business relies upon processes. Automation of individual processes will rapidly start to make a difference to productivity and given that UK productivity has only grown by 2 per cent in the last decade, there’s a long way to go. With BPA applications you can produce ‘micro services’ through open APIs to automate processes, utilising your existing technology and deploying new technology as and when you require.

Evolution not revolution

Investment Protection is always a concern, and it not necessary to rip and replace your existing technology. You can use the technology that you have in place to integrate and work with the new solutions by using solutions with light touch, low code or no code methods, such as Britannic’s b-connected solution.

The workforce of now and not tomorrow

Millennials and Generation Z have started to dominate the workforce bringing new working patterns, values and expectations in using the latest technology to the front.

By 2020 millennials are forecast to make up 35 per cent of the global workforce (Manpower 2017). In the US, Gen Z constitutes more than a quarter of the population and by 2020 will be the most diverse generation in the nation’s history (Bloomberg, 2018).

Workforces are becoming more mobile with these generations expecting to be able to work from home or anywhere as long as they do the work, it shouldn’t matter where they are based. Businesses need to re-shape and modernise their workplaces and be prepared for their requests of flexible and remote working, by providing conferencing and collaboration solutions to enable them to do their jobs more effectively.

Organisations that have previously struggled with staffing can now widen their recruitment pool if they’re prepared to revisit the need for office-based staff. Many contact centre roles for example are now home-based, improving work-life balance, providing flexibility for staff and easing the recruitment burden.

With the digital skills gap increasing companies need to work harder in recruiting talent and even harder to keep them so modernising the workplace to their requirements is essential. There are pluses and minuses to automation. Some jobs will fall under the axe of automation, but positively, jobs will become more interesting as the routine, boring work is fulfilled by robots.

Culture - the heart of the company

Establishing the right culture is vital to modernise your workplace and be digital transformation ready, without this it is not possible. Setting an open and innovative culture is not daunting, companies need to decide what their mission is, what the values of the company are and communicate it to all staff and carry it through in a daily working environment.

Culture and values are extremely important to the younger generations and if they don’t feel connected to a business then they will look elsewhere. Gallup research found that 60 per cent of Millennials are actively looking for a new job as they didn’t feel connected to the mission or values of a company.

Open and innovative

The younger demographic also want to work for companies that are transparent and adopt an open and honest culture. Therefore it is vital that the workplace should become more transparent, starting with Directors sharing the business plan, strategies and objectives with teams throughout their organisation. This will create an open environment where everyone is involved and working towards the same plan and goals.

Millennials and Gen Z are very dynamic and want to be empowered and given autonomy to work on creative projects and try new things. They want the flexibility to make mistakes without the fear of being pulled up or even losing their jobs.

Sharing and failing

It is important to adopt an open and innovative culture with a ‘growth mindset’ ethos to foster an open and innovative culture. This will encourage open communications and establish a sharing ethos. If employees don’t talk to each other in different departments and share what they are working on, then they can’t work in synergy.

Employees across the generations should be urged to share ideas about the different ways technology can be used, in discovering new ways of working, new products and services. They need to have the courage to speak out and not to be afraid of being told it is a bad idea or it won’t work. Employees need the confidence and autonomy to see if their ideas will succeed or not, and not be diminished if it does fail. As Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm.”

It’s all in the preparation

The digital explosion is set to continue and companies need to accept the paradigm shift that has been created and embrace it, if they don’t then they will be left behind.

Digital transformation is an evolutionary journey and the starting point is to modernise your workplace to ensure it is a success and you reap the benefits. It is all in the preparation, ensuring you have the right infrastructure in place, setting your culture, being ready for the demands of the younger employees, while making sure you carry your existing team with you, and implementing the technology you require. With a modern workplace, you will succeed, improving the customer and employee experience, communications, processes and productivity – you are ready for the future.

Jonathan Sharp, Director, Britannic Technologies