We are experiencing the rise of the digital workplace and the business consumer, an employee for whom business activities are just one part of a wider lifestyle as the boundaries blur between our work and private lives.
The digital workplace is enabling new and effective ways of working and improving employee engagement while exploiting consumer-orientated styles and technologies. This is causing our personal and professional lives to come ever closer together in a digital mesh, and there is no doubt our wellbeing is being pulled in multiple directions too. This blurring of boundaries is increasing the need for flexibility, autonomy and trust in the workplace.
For these reasons, it is a top priority for companies to adapt to the digital workplace as it not only influences employee well-being, productivity and creativity, but affects whether great talent, including Generation Y, will be attracted to join a company. Ultimately if employees can feel inspired at work and adopt consumer technologies which will positively impact their work/life balance, then this will also enhance their ability to collaborate in teams and deliver great customer service. However, the digital workplace does require a culture change. This is alongside companies providing greater accessibility to mobile technology and harnessing people’s growing digital literacy in their consumer lives. So how are companies faring so far?
Recent research by Raconteur has found that 57% of senior executives admitted that the pace of change continues to take them by surprise, and 34% say a cultural aversion to change is a barrier to a robust transformation strategy in their business. Clearly organisations will need to address these barriers if they are to reap the benefits of a digital workplace.
Since 2010, we’ve been on our own journey – launching an initiative called Wellbeing@work, setting up multi-disciplinary teams around the world to develop activities to encourage personal development, imaginative ways of working, exploring new technologies while matching the social expectations of employees and our recent graduate recruits.
New generation of digital natives
Increasingly, with the new generation of digital natives coming into the workforce, Gen Y is already used to working and communicating virtually, but this style isn’t something everyone is used to. The changing nature of work (remote, global, non-routine, across functions) requires a significant degree of employee autonomy, which is not yet supported by legacy IT or traditional management styles. Managers will need to trust employees to do their job regardless of time zone, set working patterns and location. Furthermore their role will change from manager to coach, inspiring and encouraging their team to deliver their best. This is what will catalyse culture change and senior leaders will need to set the example.
The human side of business
The changing work environment, culture, and work/life flow require new ways to measure and improve wellbeing and happiness. Crucial to this human side of business is that employees feel their needs are being met and they are empowered to work in ways that suit them, which will significantly increase their wellbeing at work. It will be forward-thinking companies that embrace flexible and agile ways of working supported by new leadership styles to attract the best talent and safeguard a successful business in the future.