In recent years digital transformation has been a priority for most business leaders. However, businesses have been predominantly obsessed with delighting their customers, which invariably means their transformational efforts were mainly focused on external stakeholders. The people function, typically perceived as a cost-center, often got the short-end of the transformation stick. However, in 2020, we saw a remarkable change. Employee experience is emerging as an important theme in the digital plans of organizations. As per a recent Infosys survey, we found that 83% of the respondent organizations have emphasized on employee experience as a key benefit of workplace transformation. The pandemic ushered in an urgency amongst employers to deliver superior employee experience to ensure high productivity.
As countries went into lockdowns and employee movement became restricted, there was an overnight scramble within organizations to get the required infrastructure in place. They had to enable work-from-home facilities to ensure business continuity. This sudden shift, coupled with the increasing influence of digitally native Gen Z joining the workplace, is rewriting the social contract between organizations and employees. Expectations at the workplace are evolving as employees demand convenience, empowerment, and learning to carry on their jobs. And in the new digital-first world, the combination of cloud and other technologies are accelerating this transformation.
Working from home is a function of information technology by default. However, providing computers, peripherals, and internet connectivity is only a starting point. The imperatives of a remote work model include digital tools that can empower employees to deliver their work efficiently and enable organizations to stay agile. A flexible and responsive workplace allows companies to keep pace with a dynamic and unpredictable external environment. And then there’s the perennial struggle between access to data and security. Cloud can accelerate the transformation required at the workplace with the following capabilities:
- Scalability and agility to meet employee needs: As companies undertake mass digitization programs to manage a distributed workforce in an uncertain business environment, a fast-to-deploy solution is a crucial consideration, followed by the availability of infrastructure-as-a-service that reduces the need for capital expenditure. Cloud apps offer scalability and flexibility without compromising the effectiveness of the solution. Offerings like pay-as-you-use and on-demand licensing models provide flexibility of use with little to or no infrastructure investment.
- Reimagining Employee experience: In the modern business environment, how employees experience work and the workplace are primary determinants of productivity and longevity. As homes get reorganized to accommodate the home office, the overlap between work and personal lives also increases. While working from home requires fundamental changes in the employee attribute such as a higher EQ and empathy, the model also calls for policy changes and cloud-based digital tools to provide the necessary infrastructure to deliver a good experience. So, as companies invest in creating a workplace of the future, enhancing engagement and experience has emerged as a priority for people leaders and business leaders alike.
- Seamless Collaboration for higher productivity: A primary impediment to the adoption of teleworking in the pre-pandemic age was the inability of dispersed teams to collaborate seamlessly, which impacted productivity, utilization, and had a cascading effect on the organizational culture and the people function. However, as early adopters have demonstrated, the right technologies and tools can help companies and employees make the shift. And we see a new generation of cloud-based products offer a far superior, interactive, and immersive experience that helps teams’ function better even in a virtual environment.
- The interplay of data and emerging technologies delivers actionable insights: The recent improvements in sensor technologies have helped advance the concept of smart factories and connected equipment. The use of IoT combined with the fully digital workplace generates a treasure trove of data. And with the cloud as the source of data and computing, organizations can deploy analytics to derive actionable insights at the click of a button. An additional layer of AI/ML tools can also help extract user behavior data to self-learn, improve, and deliver a more personalized experience.
- Finding the balance between security and access: In a remote working environment, employee access to data is critical particularly, for companies that deal with sensitive or proprietary data. The challenge is to find a balance between access and security without losing operability. With the workplace infrastructure extending outside the traditional enterprise architecture, companies will need to provide a centralized platform that enables employees to perform various work-related tasks within a single-window located within the extended security perimeter. As with any change, a new solution is only as good as the people who use it.
Cloud apps not only deliver functional benefits, but their transparent and intuitive nature makes them transformational and scalable. As the future belongs to the hybrid work model, cloud-based digital tools will play a significant role in facilitating workplace transformation and accelerating our journey towards a smart workplace.