Talking workplace transformation…but are we talking with the right people?

Imagine a scenario that enables employee workplace experiences to be more productive and secure, allows IT to manage fewer policies and meets flexible and adaptable business needs. In a world where experiences matter, achieving that vision is possible today, but to do that we need to think differently, embrace change and remind ourselves of the ultimate purpose of workplace technology – enabling people.

Putting the person in the center allows you to think about experiences. The result can be an environment where the workplace experience is secured and delivered from the cloud and people are productive across devices and locations. . . . But you’ve heard all this before. The key is to remember you are supporting people who need to be productive and, increasingly, creative.

productive creative people graphic

From enabling access to a device using your face or fingerprint through to using the intelligent cloud to prioritize the information you need to access, workplace experience teams can make incremental changes in experience today. To do that, we — as custodians of experiences — need to spend more time thinking about just what our purpose is and talking to the people who consume the experiences we design.

And who are our key stakeholders in shifting to a workplace experience model? We have several masters when we design workplace experiences for workers. We have to keep the senior leadership team sleeping soundly by enhancing security… keep the business effective by controlling costs… address the business leaders’ digital ambitions and show we can turn investment into value… increase employee engagement through experiences and directly impact the financial results of the organization… and support human resources in attracting and retaining the talent needed for our new digital business to succeed.

Does that sound like any set of requirements you’ve created as a business or read in a request for proposal? That is the challenge in our industry — we say the right things, we know the right thing to do, but when push comes to shove we revert back to traditional approaches to describe and measure our world in IT terms rather than experience terms. How many of these people, for instance, do you talk to: HR? Facilities? Business leaders (at all levels)? Finance?

I recently spoke to some 200+ workplace technology leaders in a series of events across several European capital cities.  My unscientific “raise your hands if” questions resulted in some really interesting stats:

  • How many of you talk regularly with Human Resources? Less than 5 percent
  • How many of you regularly talk with facilities? Less than 30 percent
  • How many of you regularly engage with the business? (noting attendees generally had responsibilities for delivering productive workplace experiences): Less than 50 percent

So if we, the workplace technology leaders, don’t talk to the business, facilities teams or HR regularly, how can we have a strategic relationship that will allow the organization to trust us to design workplace experiences? As new technology models emerge and disruptive organizations seek to gain traction in their markets, who do you think they’ll be talking to if they have a solution that enables the business of the future? If the disrupters are talking to the business, why (based on my unscientific Q&A) aren’t today’s workplace technology leaders? If we’re the right people to drive the technology shift needed in the workplaces of today’s business, we need to redirect our focus and really listen to the people we aim to serve.


stu-downes-headshotStu Downes is a director of product management and product architecture in DXC’s Workplace & Mobility offering group. Stu’s role working with product management, industry analysts, key clients and partners gives him a unique view of market trends and client needs. Stu has held a number of roles delivering, designing and leading solutions and products that make people more productive and businesses more effective. He is now shaping workplace products that enable the hyper-productive digital workplace.

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