contributed by Shivani Grover, Gartner for Midsize Enterprises
The millions of employees working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic rely more than ever on technology to get their work done. This reliance has put digital workplace capabilities to the test. Organizations have quickly determined that while some technologies benefit the workforce, many do not. This environment highlights the importance of the employee experience, which historically has often been overlooked in favor of improving the customer experience or modernizing the technology portfolio. This oversight led midsize enterprises (MSEs) to unintentionally create a patchwork of end-user technologies supporting legacy processes and workflows.
Employees overburdened with multiple solutions and complex workflows expend unnecessary effort and time to get work done. In a Gartner survey of more than 1,500 MSE corporate employees across industries and geographies, two out of three employees reported having to exert too much effort to use the technology their company provides — wasting, on average, more than five hours every week, even under normal conditions (see Gartner Digital Friction Survey 2020). The current scenario can prompt CIOs to rethink how to move forward. Employee experience using digital technologies is essential to engage employees and rebuild productivity after a major disruption, especially for resource-constrained MSEs.
“Employees today are being bombarded with too many technologies and distractions. Many times, it is at the expense of the employee experience as internal workflows and processes are ignored while more technology is introduced to an already complex environment.”
— Sean Elwick, CIO, Swinburne University of Technology
Many well-intentioned business teams will be tempted to add more tools to fix current problems. But CIOs need to ensure that these efforts don’t end up hurting employee experiences and productivity, especially for a newly distributed remote workforce.To protect the employee experience, the CIO of Swinburne University of Technology put together a list of 10 questions to ask stakeholders during project initiation discussions (see Figure 1). The leading questions prompt project sponsors to consider the impact of new technology investments on their employees’ work and the complexity they face. The questions also help anticipate process and workflow changes that might be required to improve productivity.
All MSEs will likely revisit their technology roadmaps in response to the current global disruption. As organizations attempt to plan for an uncertain future, it is essential that they make sound technology investments to support a productive employee experience. The employee experience shouldn’t be an afterthought. With careful consideration of risk, value and the employee experience, CIOs at MSEs can immediately apply lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for a productive technology environment in the future.
If you want to understand how to reduce employee effort at midsize organizations, there is no reason to build that knowledge from scratch. Instead, it makes sense to leverage the lessons and best practices of other midsize companies that have already figured out the best way forward. Access additional midsize enterprise guidance on Gartner.com or tap into our community of Midsize Enterprise Executive Partners to develop your IT organization. Can’t access links? Talk to us about becoming a client.