There’s no denying that a radical transformation is taking place in the workplace. The biggest and most talked-about topic these days is the COVID-19 pandemic, a global healthcare crisis that impacts how everyone works and leads their lives.
COVID-19 has meant that most employers have enacted changes to their businesses that few companies would have only dreamt of experimenting with several years or even decades from now. It’s made firms re-think how we work, travel, collaborate, and educate.
With that in mind, there’s an increasing need for organizations to address the lack of human connections in their digital solutions. COVID-19 has accelerated workplace transformations, and it’s time for businesses to embrace those changes and improve employee engagement.
The New Normal: Why The Future Is Now
Most workplaces have long relied on digital tools for various reasons like communications and productivity. However, such reliance was never intended to become the primary method of conducting work each day.
That’s because there was always a human element to work, and people worked together in the offline world to get things done. Digital tools and solutions were only ever there to support employees and not become the dominant way of getting things done.
Working through the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in something that many people term “the new normal.” In a nutshell, the traditional view of people physically working together in groups has become a distant memory for many organizations.
The new normal involves employees working remotely from home, using nothing more than Internet-based digital tools, a computer, and their Internet connection to get their work done each day and communicate with their peers.
Whether you like to admit it or not, it’s looking likely that the new normal is here to stay, especially in a post-COVID-19 world. Many organizations will also look to ‘hybrid’ working, where most work gets conducted remotely.
According to a report commissioned by Growmotely, 76% of entrepreneurs and 74% of business professionals surveyed expect remote working to be the new normal in a post-COVID-19 world.
The report also concluded that just 3% of all entrepreneurs and professionals surveyed want to return to working full-time in an office environment when COVID-19 becomes a distant memory.
As a result, companies should expect to invest in their digital infrastructure to make such changes possible and permanent. Over the next two years, it’s expected that 55% of workplace transformations will prioritize technology investments.
Many organizations making such investments will also look for an intelligent digital workspace that offers a unified solution across different timezones, devices, and physical locations.
Why There's a Need for More Human Connections
The new normal has undoubtedly heralded an exciting change in the way businesses and organizations operate during a COVID-19 landscape. And those workplace changes will likely be permanent post-pandemic for many of them.
But, enacting such changes also brings with it many challenges. For example, according to IDC’s Future of Work Survey:
41% of businesses must upgrade or replace outdated technology;
39% will need to eradicate inefficient and manual processes.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is improving the employee experience (EX). A staggering and perhaps unsurprising 96% of businesses and organizations want to make team collaboration solutions a priority to enable technical parity.
With all that in mind, why is there an increasing need for more human connections in a digital workplace?
It’s no secret that a happy employee will also be a productive one. Companies and other organizations must focus on protecting and supporting their employees, both during and post-pandemic.
The primary issue with a mostly digital workplace is the lack of human interaction that people enjoyed working together in person. There’s a danger many employees could feel isolated and even disenfranchised without an improved EX.
When staff mostly work from home, there is a distinct lack of social interaction with their peers. For instance, people can’t talk to each other over desks or cubicle barriers or even take a break from their PCs to visit colleagues in other offices and discuss ideas in person.
How to Make Digital Workplaces More Human
Thankfully, there are several measures that organizations can take to create more human-centric digital workplaces:
Ease of Communication
Employee wellbeing is undoubtedly a top priority for most organizations. One way to ensure that employees don’t feel isolated or become “burnt out” by working to impossible deadlines is by making communications with their peers and managers easier.
A unified platform like DoZen lets managers and employees communicate with each other, wherever they are, through a centralized communications hub.
Upgrade Your Technology
If you’re one of the 41% of organizations that depend on outdated technology, now is the right time to upgrade it. Doing so is beneficial to your business for several reasons, but one of those reasons relates to making project collaboration easier.
A collaborative online platform will enable people to work together as teams and develop new ideas and improvements.
Make Well-Being a Priority
Upgraded technology can also help provide well-being resources to employees through video chat platforms like Microsoft Teams.
Bringing in motivational guest speakers and organizing regular coffee chats on Teams, where conversations don’t focus around work, are two examples of promoting well-being in a digital workplace.
Respect Each Co-Worker's Status
A digital employee experience platform like DoZen offers many features such as online communities, gamification, onboarding, and a personalized Intranet.
But, whichever digital workplace solutions you use, the online status of each co-worker must get respected. For example, if an employee sets their status as away or busy, it means their peers should not contact them until they are ‘available.’
It’s inevitable that most organizations will be moving to remote work or hybrid work practices, both during COVID-19 and post-pandemic.
Employers will need to make many adjustments to ensure the smooth transition to such a new way of working. But, they should also keep the human aspect of their organizations a high priority.