Posted on May 12, 2020
Estimated reading time 8 minutes
A fifth of workers say ‘they would be more productive at work’ if their office was redesigned. This desire for a modern workplace is being driven by 3 things:
- Employee expectations: as more millennials enter the workforce they bring new ideas and want to play a part in shaping how the organisation operates.
- Technology: to enable more flexible work arrangements that allow employees to work anywhere, any time.
- Expectation of transparency: employee engagement is reliant on the trust the organisation has earned, which is achieved through being open and authentic about their operations.
But, in a report published by Forbes, it revealed that 35% of modern workplace projects failed to meet their original business intent, resulting in lost revenue and lower customer satisfaction.
So why are so many initiatives falling short?
Why a modern workplace fails
1. Allowing the modern workplace to disrupt business-as-usual
The vast majority (80%) of employees believe that teamwork and collaboration will power work in the future. One big cultural shift that we have witnessed in recent years is that as organisations expand globally, their teams span geographic borders, which brings with it a plethora of challenges. And yet rather than do something to overcome those challenges, 58% of organisations do not have programmes in place to make best use of their global talent.
We believe part of the problem is that organisations are apprehensive about making decisions for their business. Fearful that they might get it wrong, perhaps because they lack the specialist knowledge in-house, they opt to stand back and wait.
The findings of a recent report from PwC agree. It discovered that a fifth of organisations feel ‘worried and nervous’ about the future world of work.
So rather than rock the boat, these organisations choose to maintain the status quo. However, longer-term, this simply isn’t sustainable as the world, and employee expectations about their working environment, continue to change.
As a member of the senior leadership team, it’s your responsibility to create the vision, which the rest of your organisation can get behind and then make it happen. Take a positive step towards change – create a strategy that embraces the modern workplace, adopts proven methodologies and leverages specialist consultancy guidance.
2. Failing to monitor productivity correctly in the modern workplace
Do you wonder what your colleagues are doing rocking up to work at 9am when you’ve been sat at your desk since 7:30am?
Are you clock watching to ensure people take a maximum of 60 minutes for lunch – not a minute more?
Have you seen the disapproving looks targeted at the person who leaves ‘early’ to pick up their kids, despite working their contracted hours?
Productivity isn’t about being the first in-last out every day, it’s not about skipping lunch to cram in an extra hour, and it’s not about being visibly sat at your desk staring at a computer screen. People who do this are potentially the least productive in your organisation…
According to Workfront’s report “The State of Work 2019” employees spend just 40% of their workday on their primary task.
Productivity is all about monitoring what really matters, so you can identify how to improve through smarter working practices. This could include:
- Eliminating obsolete tasks: such as the Monday morning stand up where everyone gives a 5-min update about what they’re working on.
- Implementing efficiency improvements: such as replacing traditional email with newer collaborative platforms.
- Identifying opportunities for digital transformation: such as automating certain processes, so your people have more time to spend on the activities that add value to the customer.
With the right tools in place, you can properly monitor productivity across your organisation by focussing on the things that really matter. The best tools even incorporate comprehensive dashboards and reporting so you can critique performance and identify the changes required to make improvements.
3. Lacking visibility into IT spend on the modern workplace
Over a third of employees say their employer has failed to invest in next-generation workplace technology. There are several reasons for this, including a lack of understanding on what they need to invest in, what the best technologies are, and how to effectively roll the changes out across the business and ingrain them in the company culture.
But it would seem that employees aren’t going to hang around and wait for the changes they need in order to perform their role to the best of their ability. Charging ahead with an ‘it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission’ attitude, 85% of employees are procuring the tools they need to create their own version of the modern workplace.
It’s created the rise of Shadow IT, which as well as leading to siloed ways of working and duplication of effort, could lead to security vulnerabilities and compliance issues for the organisation.
If you lack the in-house skills to feel confident about what your IT infrastructure should look like in the modern workplace, work with a specialist provider who can help you build the business case and articulate the opportunity. For example, shifting some/all your workloads to the cloud could actually save you 20% of your annual IT budget, as well as give your employees the tools they require.
4. Failing to properly consider security and risk in the modern workplace
CEOs consistently rank cyber security as their primary external concern because attacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated. Fearing the potential exposure of a ‘cloud-first’ infrastructure, and potential vulnerabilities of enabling ‘mobile-first’ for remote workers, they instead choose to put off modern workplace initiatives.
Most modern workplace tools are inherently secure because the vendors invest an extraordinary about of time, effort and budget ingraining robust security protocols into their products.
The reality is that ‘cyber breaches are more likely to occur as a result of a customer’s employees rather than by actions carried out by cloud providers’, with the majority (90%) attributed to human error.
If you’re in any doubt about the security of your IT, you should of course perform a security assessment to identify any potential vulnerabilities, which allows you to mitigate them with appropriate controls, so they don’t expose your business unnecessarily.
But really, the best thing you can do to increase the security posture of your modern workplace is to train your employees so they know how to spot phishing emails, they aren’t downloading unauthorised apps, and understand the importance of using strong passwords.
5. Lacking the in-house skills to deliver a modern workplace
According to research from PwC, one of the biggest risks for organisations is the skills gap in their workforce. And given that undertaking a modern workplace initiative isn’t part of business-as-usual, it’s understandable that most organisations simply won’t have an in-house specialist.
This leaves you with 2 options:
- Nurture your existing talent, investing in re-skilling them so they can undertake the job.
- Finding an external specialist that already possesses the skills that you can hire for this project.
Of course, committing to your team’s continued professional development is going to boost their motivation since they can see how much you value them. But, re-skilling them isn’t going to happen overnight, and the time they dedicate to learning something new will directly impact on their ability to deliver business-as-usual.
Delivering the modern workplace often benefits from having a fresh pair of eyes from someone impartial. Choose an external partner and they can help you see things that you’ve perhaps overlooked or get you to view something in a different light. Then they can help you create a roadmap that aligns to the overall business strategy because it’s tailored to your specific requirements.
Learn about how Atech can support you to deliver the modern workplace…
The time to act is now
The modern workplace isn’t a far-off phenomenon sitting on the horizon – it’s happening here and now. Fail to act, and you risk losing valuable members of your team who will be enticed to go elsewhere, as well as the resulting impact to the customer experience and the risk of lost revenue.
When only 10% of organisations have a clear narrative about the future of work, you have a huge opportunity to take the lead on the modern workplace, defining what it looks like and why it’s important to your business.
We regularly post thought leadership articles on how IT powers the modern workplace, and how it can do so securely.
Read our latest guide ‘Creating the next generation of your business. How to build a Modern Workplace in Financial Services.’