Articles, Business & Value, x-Early Perspectives

People in the Digital Workplace

…… First published in March 2016 …..

  1. How easy is it for people to learn in the natural flow of work?
  2. How confident are you that knowledge and know-how of people will not walk out the door when people leave your organization?
  3. How easy is it for the customer-facing people to serve customers?

You can see the survey results on these questions from the 2015 report here, and you’ll see it’s not so positive.I have written  previously about the gap between digital deployment and actual impact on people and the organization. Now I wanted to understand if there were fundamental differences in digital workplaces that correlated to the learning, knowledge and customer dimensions in the questions above. So I looked at assessments from the top organizations  –  those that responded at the highest level for each question. And yes indeed, I found different strengths in each segment.

The top learning organizations are inclusive, open and responsive to the external world.

For example, the top performing organizations in the very easy to learn segment are digitally inclusive: the digital workplace connects nearly all (90%) of the workforce. Operational management is very involved in decisions regarding the digital workplace. They have high use of the digital workplace by employee support functions: Communication 100 percent, HR 90 percent and IT 84 percent. They also have more types of communities than the other segments, in particular, a higher proportion that are mixed, that is to say, communities that include internal people and external people.

In the top customer-facing organizations, senior managers are very active and there is a high degree of personal choice.

Top performing organizations in the top-level customer-facing segment have a strong business focus. The digital workplace is reported at the top executive level. There is a very high use of the digital workplace by the support functions. All levels of management are very involved in decision-making: CEO, direct reports to CEO, middle and operational. People have a high degree of freedom to use their own tools. 40% say policies and guidelines have been established for the flow of information between managed, collaborative and social spaces.

The top knowledge-preserving segment consider information to be an enterprise asset like financial and material assets.

Very few organizations are confident about retaining knowledge and know-how when people leave. This was the case in the last two annual surveys where practically no organization reported feeling “very confident”, the highest of a 5-point scale. The few top knowledge preserving organizations do have a key characteristic in common: they all say their senior management has an open and participatory leadership style. 60% reported having a single enterprise social network (vs. 40% of the full survey population). They, like the learning segment, have more communities for innovation and topic-based learning than the survey average. They consider information to be an enterprise asset like financial and material assets and have information management practices that are used across all enterprise projects.

How will this evolve?

The points above are correlations, not direct cause and effect. However, two consecutive years of data have shown the same big picture. The 2016 survey will deepen our understanding of these points, because we will be going into more detail for each of the three questions: learning, knowledge and serving customers. Stay tuned!