Digital is Not Enough: A Mature Modern Workplace Approach

As the pandemic begins to fade in the rearview mirror, many organizations are still searching for the right digital strategy, whether their employees are working from the corner coffee shop or the corner office. Recognizing that current approaches to digital transformations are inadequate, StitchDX is introducing a new holistic mindset.

An Incomplete Picture

Increasingly, the StitchDX team have come to recognize that the term “Digital Workplace” fails to capture the key levers that organizations can pull to improve culture, productivity, and the bottom line. As my StitchDX colleague Erick Straghalis notes: “Because the Digital Workplace is primarily concerned with the nuts-and-bolts of solving business problems through technology, it does not adequately address one of the most critical aspects of the business: the people.”

This narrow view has its consequences. Too often, we hear of organizations that are struggling with digital transformations (I’ve written about Why Digital Transformations Fail). For too long, the emphasis has been primarily on the technology – the tools that make up the digital workplace.

The Modern Workplace approach is more than technology alone.

Instead, we’ve moved our thinking to “Modern Workplace,” a term that frames the elements needed for a successful digital strategy. Erick describes it as “a holistic approach that focuses on the people, processes, and platforms using the digital workplace as a foundation to drive organizational continuity and growth.”

This Modern Workplace approach addresses not just the technology, but also the people who do the work and the places (both virtual and physical) where they do it. It is not merely a set of tools to be installed and configured, but a digital strategy centered on a growth mindset.

While our adoption of the term “Modern Workplace” illustrates a shift in our thinking, the goal has always been the same: a workplace that is agile, efficient, and productive – where technology complements and assists humans but is not a goal onto itself. Too many organizations rush to implement technology without fully accounting for the humans (and their skillsets and comfort levels) who will use that technology.

This urgency is easy to understand. With the rapidly increasing pace of digital change, it can be easy to feel left behind. Not only are your competitors gaining the advantages that come with a true Modern Workplace, your “digital-first” younger employees expect the same consumer-grade digital experiences they have in their hands (or in their VR headsets).

Successful organizations are and increasingly will be the ones with Modern Workplaces. Those with more “legacy” tools and mindsets are likely to struggle.

A new tool in the process

This is why we created the Modern Workplace Assessment. Organizations can use it to understand their strengths and areas for improvement in relation to the three key levers we see as critical for successful digital transformations: Usage & Adoption, Governance & Control, and Environmental.

Your score will place you along a spectrum we call the Modern Workplace Maturity Model. While each of its is described as distinct and discrete, the process of progress along the spectrum will likely not be linear. Your organization may also score well in one area and have opportunities to grow in another area. The purpose of the Modern Workplace Assessment is to provide a starting place for a conversation.

The five score levels on the assessment are:

  • Foundational – The stage where many organizations begin their modern workplace journey. This stage is characterized by awareness of the need to change, but without a strong vision or plan.
  • Emerging – This stage shows an organization making some initial steps toward the modern workplace, but those moves are often tentative or isolated rather than part of an intentional and well-structured effort.
  • Integrated – Integrated organizations have begun to piece disparate efforts into identified projects and workstreams. There is visible and notable progress and most employees have integrated some of the tools.
  • Managed – While this stage may give the appearance of “mission accomplished,” organizations in the managed phase are in a state of continual improvement and are relentless in finding areas for optimization.
  • Optimized – The key to successfully staying in the optimized zone rests with the organization’s ability to monitor, provide feedback, and remain agile. The goal is not successfully implementing technology, but rather having a technologically curious and open workforce ready to learn and adapt.

How to level up your Modern Workplace

Moving along this continuum takes time and consolidated effort but is completely achievable by organizations large and small. We’ve helped many different types of organizations get to the next level through our StitchDX Modern Workplace engagements.

Here are three practices that will help any organization adopt the Modern Workplace mindset:

  • Listen first. This is an integral facet of our approach to the Modern Workplace. Organizations that solicit information and feedback from their employees achieve much greater success in digital transformations. Be sure that the questions you are asking are about their experiences as employees, not just about the technology they use. What gives them hope and what causes frustrations?
  • Then, strategize. Taking the required time to plan is crucial to successful digital transformations. Plan early and plan often. Have a plan for how people will get involved, what is in it for them, and how they will participate.
  • Always monitor. The backbone of the Modern Workplace approach is continual learning. It is gathering feedback and monitoring analytics.

By now I hope you’re curious about where your organization sits in our Modern Workplace maturity model. To find out, take our Modern Workplace Assessment, which will also reveal opportunities for near- and long-term improvements.