October 07, 2022 by Andrea Rajic
Table of contents
Workplace or workforce transformation covers improving the company's tools, skills, abilities, and processes to better adapt to changes and execute the business strategy.
The transformation companies are going through now is driven by technological advances (like cloud services, mobility, and automation) and accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the advance of working from home, remote, and hybrid work models.
As a result, today's workforce is pressured to adopt new skills and behaviors while companies struggle to support employees in a new, distributed work model.
A horizon of opportunities awaits companies with structured transformation programs — from increased flexibility, workforce diversity, and increased potential for innovation.
Let’s start with digital transformation. Companies are looking to adopt better tools and apps that ensure faster and smoother workflows, higher productivity, and data-driven insights into business operations. Investing in tools and technology doesn’t just improve how employees work but also reduces security and compliance implications, especially in remote companies.
When it comes to learning and development, its benefits are mainly internal but equally important. Robust L&D processes and a well-designed knowledge-sharing process help companies upskill employees, increase their adaptability, and benefit from their new skills.
Additionally, remote work gives companies access to global talent and helps increase employee diversity. More diverse companies benefit from different points of view and are more likely to innovate successfully. Remote work has quickly become one of the primary ways to retain workers and increase employee engagement, both of which are ongoing challenges for companies.
It’s getting more evident every day that workplace transformation isn’t optional. Organizations must become flexible and adaptable to new ways of working to maintain or improve their productivity and bottom line.
Transforming the workforce is a sure way to help companies address workforce shortages, fill critical roles, and redesign the work environment to match the needs of employees today and in the future.
Investing in human capital — your employees — and empowering them to acquire new skills and grow their careers will make them stay in the company longer and fill more roles internally. In addition, these benefits help companies save money, as retaining new employees is way cheaper than hiring new ones.
Workplace transformation is a long-term and company-wide process. It takes time, requires a strategic vision, and brings challenges along the way. So let’s break those challenges down and see how you can solve them.
Whether you’re rolling out a new company chat app or introducing artificial intelligence into the company’s workflows, we know implementing new tech can be complicated. First and foremost, any new tech rollout requires IT, People and HR, and Operations teams to work together.
And as we are increasingly working in a digital workplace, the number of tools and apps we use is growing daily. This means teams working on digital transformation must ensure all these tools can work smoothly for everyone.
Ensuring all employees have the access they need to do their work and a good user experience requires a well-timed plan, carefully planned execution, and robust documentation. Additionally, companies (especially remote ones) need to keep cyber security, privacy, and data access in mind, for both employee and customer experience.
Solving technology issues and speeding up digital transformation lies in creating a detailed plan, assigning roles to everyone on the team, and rigorously testing and vetting existing and new tech.
The importance of learning and development initiatives has never been greater, especially in distributed companies. All transformation efforts, from new tech to adapting to remote work, require employees to gain new knowledge and expand their skill sets.
But that doesn’t mean sharing or distributing knowledge is easy. On a company level, it requires a partnership between team managers, human resources, and the L&D department. By working together, they can create a database of skills and knowledge employees can learn, implement learning programs, and measure success.
Growth and development are significant to employees, and access to learning and development should be simple, easy, and transparent. Organizations should encourage all employees to use L&D resources freely and communicate these initiatives clearly. Also, if career growth and promotions depend on acquiring new skills, ensure employees know that upfront and can use L&D programs to get ahead in the workplace.
For most companies, remote and flexible work are relatively new, as they were brought to the mainstream by the pandemic. Initially, employees worked from home, and employers were amazed by their high productivity levels. However, a few years later, companies find themselves rethinking what the future of work looks like.
They no longer have to hire based on where employees are, which gives access to a broader talent pool and helps find the best people anywhere. But on the other hand, employees are not giving up their new-found flexibility, even when they say they miss in-person connections.
The challenge for employers is supporting their remote workers, enabling human connection and collaboration, and adapting their real estate strategy. For many organizations, leasing long-term office spaces no longer makes sense from the standpoint of budgets and employee experience.
Companies solve this challenge by using flexible workspaces and coworking spaces for employees everywhere. This approach lets them scale their workspace footprint as they grow, provide spaces for connection wherever employees live, and control usage and spending from one place using platforms like Gable.
When rethinking workflows, technology, and processes in the workplace, we mustn’t forget to include employee experience in the mix. Times of change and transformation are challenging and require extra attention to employee wellbeing, which can have a high ROI for companies.
One of the ways to ensure employees feel appreciated and heard (apart from good pay and healthcare provisions) is to rethink your perks and benefits package. Ask your remote employees what they need the most and include it in your offer. You’ll start seeing the impacts of positive company culture and good benefits quickly as employees get happier and more satisfied at work.
So what are the principles of workplace transformation, and where do you start? Before you even begin any transformation efforts, you will need executive buy-in. No transformation can be done successfully if the company leadership doesn’t stand behind it.
Once you have the leadership support, you can put the main pillars and principles in place and kickstart the transformation process.
It sounds tempting to try and revamp your entire organization at once, but that's not something we would recommend. Instead, determine all your business goals first. Then map out how workplace transformation can help you achieve those goals.
Finally, set priorities; if your organization is lagging in productivity, you will want to tackle transformation in a way that helps employees be more productive. Sort goals and initiatives from most to least urgent based on impact, and start tackling them one by one.
As you determine goals and priorities in your transformation process, add another layer of clarity by matching the goals you want to achieve with the needed skills. For example, suppose one of your organization's primary goals is to introduce automation and save time on manual workflows. In that case, you will need employees to gain proficiency in the tools they need for automation.
Repeat the skill-matching process for every goal you have on the list and every priority. This process won’t just give you more clarity on priorities but will also help you understand the skill gaps in your workforce and map out a learning and development program to help close them.
As you go through the transformation process, making employees feel connected to its mission is essential. This starts by communicating the goals of the transformation, the steps the company is planning to take, what is expected from employees and how they can participate.
The goal is to make all efforts transparent and clear so that all employees know their role in the process and how they will benefit from this change. The best way to include employees in the conversation and connect them to the mission is to work together with department heads and managers on a communication and engagement strategy.
The final and possibly most crucial workplace and workforce transformation principle is measuring success. You will need to adapt and adjust as you move through your list of priorities and goals and implement new processes. Some initiatives will work better than others, and it’s vital to learn along the way and iterate.
Setting measurable goals is essential for achieving success, but so is the ability to be flexible. Don’t stick too hard to your initial metrics and numbers, as you may find better angles to look at or more critical aspects to track and improve.
There’s never been a better time to rethink the processes, tools, and models your company uses to achieve business goals. If you haven’t yet started working on a transformation strategy, now is the time. Start supporting employees in gaining new skills, improving workflows, and thriving in a distributed workplace.
Design a data-driven workplace employees will love
Give your team the flexibility they need and empower them to get together and connect. Control budget spending and usage centrally and use data to analyze what works best for your team.