May 26, 2017

Want to Become a Digital Workplace? It’s Time to Get Comfortable With Collaboration

Retailers, hotels, airlines, restaurants – no matter the industry, companies are being called on to meet dramatically higher expectations from multiple audiences.

Consumers’ intrigue with online shopping and services means they expect more robust, personalized experiences when they shop in bricks and mortar stores, restaurants and big brand hotels. Hourly associates are more vocal in their demand for greater control over their schedules, better wages and flexibility at work. Nowadays, executives want to see greater innovation and efficiency, everywhere from the head office to the frontline.

To take advantage on the opportunities created by these trends, some employers are betting on transforming into a digital workplace as the solution. Though the approach varies across organizations, the goal of any digital workplace strategy is to enhance employee engagement and productivity through smarter, more integrated, tech-driven tools and processes and to free managers of tasks that drain their time from more valued activities.

Practically speaking, a digital workplace is a means to nurturing more informed, motivated employees who stay on board longer and deliver stronger customer service – resulting in tangible business results. But forging this shift is not simply a matter of adopting a new app and rolling it out to every store and employee.

To transform to a full function digital workplace, all teams – from IT and HR to Operations, Communications and Training – have to collaborate in ways they may never have before.

Why It Pays to Work Together

There are three components of a digital workplace transformation: planning and strategy, selecting the right platform and filling it with the right content, and delivering that platform across the organization.

When head office teams don’t work together at any point in this cycle, they undermine the potential of the new technology or process they’re trying to establish.

Imagine, for a moment, if a retailer’s operations team was the only department involved in adopting a digital scheduling tool. Operations can ask all the right questions about how the tool would integrate at a store level, or how it would impact labor costs. But without HR or communications in the room, they may not consider how to effectively announce the new system to store managers and associates, or the power of a robust digital workplace to deliver solid training for the frontline staff and strategize how to align the solution with existing professional development efforts.

By looping a cross-functional team into each phase of the digital workplace journey, employers ensure they’re driving the most value out of their new investments.

For example, bringing a diverse group of stakeholders into the process of deploying a new training tool makes it easier to forge connections that the training team may not have realized on their own. This integrated committee may find that, rather than rolling out stand alone training modules based on title, frontline associates should have the chance to cross-train in multiple functions (e.g., point-of-sale, fulfillment, merchandising) – creating more operational efficiencies at the store level.

Smarter, Faster, Stronger

Involving multiple teams in the process of building a digital workplace not only breaks down internal barriers, it sets businesses up for cost savings and revenue growth.

Pick any initiative that usually unfolds in silos, or that corporate teams lost control over at the store or associate level (e.g., product launches, timely marketing campaigns or rebranding efforts). Despite the best laid plans, important messages often get lost in translation from the head office to the frontlines – confusing employees, detracting from the customer experience and minimizing campaign results.

But with a digital workplace platform that HR, Operations, Training and Communications implement together, these initiatives come in tandem like a symphony:

  • Marketing teams can directly communicate details about a new promotion to employees at all levels and locations
  • Training reps can transform that information into interactive, gamified learning modules for hourly associates
  • Communications can break out campaign-specific tasks – such as changing product signage – that all frontline managers must assign their teams
  • Operations leaders can track each of these activities, gauging the promotion’s effectiveness and identifying locations or associates who didn’t complete the necessary tasks

Becoming a digital workplace stands to solve a number of service organizations’ most pressing challenges, and the journey is just as important as the destination. The employers that succeed will be those that tackle the transformation collaboratively.

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