Enabling employees to work remotely isn’t just about increasing productivity and agility. It’s about creating a more resilient workforce and inclusive culture. According to a Salesforce survey, around two-thirds of people believe remote working can help to improve work-life balance while also addressing gender and social inequalities.
As part of Salesforce Live: Benelux, we heard from three Trailblazers about how they are transforming their teams to work with new technologies, insights, and skills. Here they share their tips for delivering a stellar experience to employees everywhere.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many organisations to rapidly introduce new technologies to enable their employees to work remotely. As a result, nearly a third of employees reported a change in their use of one or more technologies during 2020.
But not all of these new technologies will offer the flexibility and scalability needed to support hybrid workplaces and growth strategies in the long term. Marc Visser, Founder and CEO of hallo, which provides ICT services to SMEs, recommends adopting a cloud-first approach and selecting platforms that can easily connect to other systems.
“Making technology part of your survival strategy is key because that’s what your competitors will do,” he said.
“In the future, every company to a certain extent will be an IT company. We made technology a part of the company's DNA, right from the start.”
Chat rooms, employee communities, digital whiteboards. Collaboration tools are essential for enabling people to connect remotely. Especially if teams are working from home in different countries. Even as more workplaces start to open up, 78% of CEOs believe the shift to remote collaboration will endure.
“Collaboration is a big topic. We use different technology to work together - whether it's from home, or internationally from different countries,” explained Geertjan Woltjes, COO for Quooker. The Netherlands-based company has transformed thousands of kitchens around the world with its boiling-water taps. For Woltjes, collaboration is not just about empowering colleagues but also reducing the volume of internal emails.
“It’s very important during this time of COVID-19 to be able to collaborate online in different ways.”
The energy and petrochemical group, Shell, has taken this one step further by investing in networks that promote greater collaboration and knowledge sharing.
“We have something known as the business value network where we bring business and IT together as a community,” explained Kartik Ranganath, Delivery Head for Shell’s Salesforce Centre of Excellence.
People need access to good data to make good decisions. And not just data from their own area of the business. To provide a great customer experience, teams increasingly need 360 visibility of sales, service, and marketing interactions.
“We provide our colleagues with information from different departments so they can make their own decisions. It’s really efficient,” explained Woltjes.
Connecting customer information is not only important for empowering your people but also enabling change.
“As we are moving more towards being a B2B and B2C business, it's important that we have customer data right in the middle and that we can connect interactions and opportunities across multiple lines of business.”
As well as increasing visibility, organisations need to ensure that customer insights are not used out of context. “People can have different discussions about the same data, so you have to explain to them what's behind the data,” added Woltjes.
Both organisations and individuals had to adapt to a massive amount of change in a short period of time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Delivering change at such a rapid pace, however, has its downsides. Even prior to the pandemic, 57% of companies said organisational change was a major risk to employee wellbeing. “If we don't have the business right in the middle of a transformation, it will not succeed,” said Ranganath.
Digital tools and channels can help to engage and support employees during the transformation journey. They will not only minimise the impact on their wellbeing but also maximise benefits for the business.
For example, when employees were consulted about a technology change, 70% of them were positive about the likely impact on their job quality. Take that consultation away, and the figure drops to just 20%.
“Technology stacks are evolving at a very, very fast rate. Having subject matter experts who can actually be a part of the change journey is extremely important.”
The rapid evolution of technology means that the skills needed for jobs are also changing. For example, 61% of employers found that staff needed more skills as a result of AI and automation implementations.
“A culture of learning within business and IT is key,” said Ranganath. “At Shell, we have a constant job learning and reading certification so that every person - as part of their annual contract - is continuously developing their skills.”
With new technologies and digital channels constantly emerging, it can be easy to get carried away with new ideas to empower employees. “Don't fall into a trap of creating something completely customised,” said Visser. “I've learnt not to be afraid to ask the dumb questions and continue to ask why, why, why, until you really understand what you're doing.”
Ranganath agrees that staying true to your original objectives is essential. “We don’t build applications for the sake of it; we do it to meet a business outcome, with the customer right at the centre,” he said.
“Build in increments and use the power of prototyping.”
By taking a phased approach to innovation and transformation, organisations will be able to continuously capture employee feedback on new technologies and processes. As a result, people will not only be empowered to work remotely but also to deliver a better customer experience.
Continue your journey to remote employee success by learning from these Trailblazers and downloading our Digital Success Manual. It’s packed with tips on how to seize future opportunities and solve current challenges!