Understanding the New Digital Employee Experience

Productivity is waning, which makes it the perfect time for IT leaders to seize the moment and flip the script.

A whopping 85% of workers are disengaged, causing approximately $7 trillion in productivity loss, according to Gallup’s most recent “State of the Global Workplace” report.

“I think there’s disengagement because deficient technology is getting in the way,” says Kurt Roemer, chief security strategist at Citrix. “I see a huge opportunity for technology leaders to drastically improve employee engagement.”

How can IT decision makers help flip those disengagement statistics? It starts with gathering a better understanding of the needs and expectations of today’s digital employees.

Expectations and obstacles

Today’s knowledge workers want flexibility in terms of how they get work done. That includes using devices they’re most comfortable with, no matter where they are—in the office, at home, or on the road. Also, workers are digitally savvy. Thanks to the consumerization of smart devices and digital virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa, they expect to immediately get the answers they need.

“Expanding it out a little farther,” Roemer says, “one of the biggest reasons for the slowdown in productivity is because IT investments have typically been focused on technology and industry standards—in other words, the plumbing.” This adds to the increase in shadow IT, as users and business leaders seek a superior experience beyond the IT department.

Flipping the dynamic

Digital transformation is causing companies to consider how mobility and the cloud affect the ways work gets done. This, combined with employees’ desire for greater flexibility and an enhanced experience, is leading to a shift toward digital workspaces.

52% of IT leaders have said that in becoming “digital-first,” they want to improve productivity via mobile, data access, and AI-assisted processes, according to the 2018 IDG Digital Business Survey.

The digital workspace focuses on user behavior—and what Roemer defines as “the five Ws of access and usage.” That includes the who, what, when, where, and why of locating the application or data they need and then using that app or information effectively and efficiently. For IT leaders, it’s about understanding the identity, device, location, and reasons for actions such as “Is this action normal for the role under these conditions, or is it normal for this time of day?”

How does this affect productivity? When IT delivers a workspace that directly tries to improve engagement.

“Most of the time, productivity hasn’t come into play and people have just been looking at the security risks versus the costs of delivering something,” Roemer says. “They really should be looking at the employee experience first.”

Getting started

To create a digital workspace, start with culture design, Roemer advises. Although IT may not traditionally have been focused on workspace design, that should change, he says.

“IT very much needs to have more design-centric thinking,” he says. “And the more design thinking IT engages in, the better the solution’s outcomes are going to be.

“The digital workspace really needs to be designed for how people work and not just what apps or desktops they use,” he continues. “We should constantly strive to tailor the workspace to roles and responsibilities, and maybe even down to the project or task being worked on. Things like analytics and automation are going to help quite a bit with this over time, but we need to start by looking at productivity and security from a cultural viewpoint.”

To that end, business and IT leaders should work together to describe culture. “Culture as code,” Roemer says. “If you can do that, you are drastically moving your organization forward. What’s more, you’re going to really drive that next generation of innovation while improving productivity and engagement.”

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