August 28, 2019
There has been much talk of digital, agile and organisational transformation for businesses for many years now. While the intricacies of each are separate discussions, one thing is clear – the world of work and the workplace are changing and as businesses we need to adapt.
Managers and HR departments are the leaders responsible for building a company’s culture, which is essential to this transformation. Saying this, employees at all levels are responsible for maintaining their own culture and making it what it is. To do this effectively, we must understand both why cultural transformation is essential, and how new tools, technologies and techniques can effectively build it, for both new and existing employees.
How technology can underpin human resources
Teamwork, the alignment of an organisation in working toward a common purpose, and shared understanding, are all fundamental in workplace culture today. The employee journey can be made simpler through the use of tech, allowing HR departments to effectively support staff.
One way new technology, such as collaboration tools, can do this is through the use of group-based communication. Rather than internal conversations getting lost in the abyss of email, group based communications such as channels can be set-up based around recruitment needs, by creating an individual conversation on a specific topic to which team members can contribute. This group or ‘channel’ can be monitored by HR managers as team leaders assign tasks, reducing the fragmentation that takes place with each department emailing on an ad-hoc basis, and ensuring a holistic view of business priorities.
New joiners can be added and given instant access to their project channel’s history – providing a log of knowledge, processes and files on a topic. This means that new team members can build a personal connection rapidly with peers. Also, the inclusive nature of this set-up means that those working remotely aren’t faced with the risk of being ‘out of sight and out of mind’, and additional features such as video calling further reduce a sense of distance. Overall, the ability to transparently see an overview of the team’s work helps foster a better understanding of the business in a way that an empty inbox on day one cannot.
When it comes to checking in with employees, bots can offer useful ways to receive regular, detailed feedback from workplace teams that will help HR departments improve the workplace. Trivago, for example, uses a customisable bot called Leo that checks the pulse of all 1,500 employees. The integration asks a series of five questions on a weekly basis covering a huge range of topics which the HR department can review. This gives everyone a voice and allows HR, management and senior leadership to proactively respond to business needs.
Global, flexible, agile – a new way of working
Juggling parenting or caring needs with work and the flexibility which that requires is now essential for a large number of workers
A number of factors have contributed to the changing world of work. In many organisations millennials make up the majority of the workforce, meaning that new starters are most likely to be part of this demographic. This demographic shift has taken place alongside and influenced a move to more remote working, with employees collaborating across time zones and continents becoming the new norm. Likewise, juggling parenting or caring needs with work and the flexibility which that requires is now essential for a large number of workers.
People are bringing these new priorities to their careers and the workplace and are also feeling the effects of increasing globalisation and digitisation. In fact, according to a study by Workfrom and Hubstaff, 21% of remote workers say that the biggest struggle of working remotely is loneliness, while another 21% said that it was collaborating and communicating. Therefore, group communication becomes essential in keeping remote workers up to speed with company events and tasks, and helping them feel connected to their team. Businesses are also facing new realities; in today’s global economy, agile working and the ability to react at speed to market changes are essential tenets of competitive business.
Culture has to unite both the changing needs of both the business and its employees. Culture, though, is not simply about trust falls and team building – it can define a business and is critical to success or failure and underpins an organisation’s approach to its employees, and their approach to work.
Culture requires teams to think outside the box
While technology can provide a framework for institutional knowledge sharing and encourage a more collaborative approach to work, it does not solely create culture. Perhaps the most often overlooked part of company culture is the importance of ensuring teams know when to switch off and stop working.
New technologies can provide ever greater ways to connect people, but nobody wants their work phone buzzing while they’re reading a bedtime story – it’s all about getting the balance right. These tech tools provide better control over notifications, which can be set to only alert you during the working day, or snoozed when jumping on an important call, to avoid overload.
Establishing a positive workplace culture powered by new technologies will enable businesses to improve performance at every level, reduce employee burnout, loneliness and onboarding pains, and ultimately make the lives of your team simpler more pleasant and more productive. Even though the new world of work presents challenges, it can also be the window of opportunity for businesses to improve their workplace culture.