The digital workplace isn’t exactly breaking news. So why are so many people talking about the digital workplace in 2016? Because it’s moving into the cloud.
Tech giants like Microsoft and Google have gone all-in on cloud platforms that let you store and access your work from anywhere, share calendars, host remote meetings and much more. The cloud has created entirely new ways to collaborate in real-time. That is, if people actually use these new tools.
Jumping back to the 90’s, it was our younger colleagues who drove the workplace transformation. They were the ones who taught themselves to use PCs, send emails and create presentations in now-forgotten programs like Harvard Graphics. Traditionalists dragged their feet and stuck to typewriters or even writing by hand.
The first to change were the first to benefit. They became more productive and took greater control of their work by cutting out the middlemen. Young workers actually got a career boost by jumping on board the digital train. But it’s important to bear in mind that for them they just needed to get started with the new – their older colleagues had to break ingrained habits.
The new digital workplace comes with the same challenges and opportunities. The first to embrace cloud based tools will have a great advantage while the laggards will struggle to keep up.
These new ways of sharing and collaborating are more about changing behavior than learning new procedures. Motivating that behavioral change comes down to answering one question: what’s in it for me?
Motivated or not, change is coming. With the shift to the cloud, Microsoft is changing their whole business model and eliminating support for older software.
You’ll thank them later. Pulling the plug will force everyone to at least learn the basics, like the new ways to create and share documents. The real challenge is getting people to go beyond the basics and realize the full potential of this technology, e.g. creating crowd sourced portals dedicated to a project. Microsoft can’t inspire your people to come up with and share ideas. That comes down to internal communication and leadership.
We’ve helped several companies implement Office 365. That experience has us convinced of a few things:
- It’s not an IT project – it’s a matter of changing workplace culture and behavior.
- Leading by example is everything. The most convincing way to get people to try out something new is seeing the CEO make it part of their everyday work.
- It’s critical that you make it easy for people to ask questions and find information by collecting everything they need in one place.
- Ambassadors give the change a kick in the pants – find people that have a genuine interest in the new platform and let them lead the way.
- Variety is the spice of learning. Use the right format for each topic, whether it’s webinars, e-learning courses or in the classroom.
- Make the change a recurring topic in your team meetings to keep your people talking about progress and problems. And give leaders the support they need to address those problems.
- Keep repeating your message, follow-up your efforts and share success stories to demonstrate what everyone has to gain.
Experience: Almost 20 years working with communication and learning.
Personal mission: To make the difficult understandable and fun.
Weapon of choice: Humour and passion
Change anthem: Bridge over troubled water, Simon & Garfunkel