Shifting to a digital workplace can present challenges to everyone. Managers quickly discover that leading a mobile workforce is far different from interacting with employees face-to-face on a daily basis. Meanwhile, workers can struggle to find balance between the newfound flexibility they enjoy and the many challenges that accompany a transition from a traditional workplace to a digital one. By addressing issues that arise with communication, structure, and workflow head-on, your company can make this transformation less challenging and begin to enjoy the benefits that accompany a shift to a digital workplace.
Approach Change from a Positive Standpoint
If you are lucky, your employees will find it easy to accept change, and any problems they encounter during the adaptation phase will be minor ones. It’s not realistic to expect all employees to leap head-first into the unknown waters of change, though: Instead, anticipate a variety of emotions ranging from negatives like anger and grief, to fearful ones like worry and hesitation. While it’s likely that some of your people might feel a sense of excitement about the transition, they are probably going to be the minority. While you’ll be going through some emotions of your own at this point, it is very important that you communicate in a positive, motivational way.
Minimize Problems with Equipment and Technology
Tools are a big deal, no matter what job you’re doing. Be sure to minimize the risk of catastrophe by setting your mobile workforce up for success. Whether you provide computers and other equipment, or if your workers are going to be responsible for bringing their own, ensure that all software is supported. Use a solid tool like Sapho’s modern portal to ensure a steady, reliable workflow, and while you’re at it, ensure that every one of your employees has access to the best internet connection available. Technological needs vary from one industry to the next, so be sure to spend time brainstorming and consider asking your employees what you can do to help set up their remote offices.
Train Employees to Use Best Practices
Organization is among the most important keys to success when adapting to a digital workplace. While you don’t want to be heavy-handed or stoop to micromanaging, you do want to ensure that every worker knows his or her role, and you want to be certain that everyone is proficient. Teach and role-play before the actual transition takes place. Troubleshoot and imagine worst-case-scenarios of different types. With proper training in place, it will be far easier to ensure that everyone adheres to your company’s governance policies – no matter what happens.
While you don’t need to hold employees by the hand (after all, they’re going to be working more independently than ever before once the transition is complete!) you do want to provide them with reassurance that problems will be addressed as they arise, and that your company will do everything possible to make the transition an easy one.
Recognize that employees have a variety of concerns, whether they’re grounded in reality or not: For example, some people might worry that their jobs are at risk when in fact you value their expertise and would be sorry to lose them. Realize that reassurance is not a one-size-fits-all proposition: Some people will need to talk a lot about every detail, while others will happily jump in with both feet and get down to work without much help from you. Empathy, honest, and detailed communication will go a long way toward encouraging employees to take the leap with confidence.
Whether all employees are part of the transformation, or if only a few are affected, you’ll want to anticipate some disruptions to workflow and have a plan in place for dealing with those. Anticipating challenges with technology, security, and human resources paves the way for rapid solutions in the event they are required. And, keep in mind that all digital transformations – not only those that see a percentage of employees transferring to the mobile workforce – come with disruptions. New hardware, new software, and even new ergonomic workstations can present challenges of their own!
By planning carefully, anticipating a variety of outcomes, and carefully planning to take challenges head-on, you’ll be better prepared to help your staff deal with changes of every type. With time, appropriate technology, and determination, your company will be ready to deliver better customer experiences and reap the accompanying rewards.