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Transforming the Online Workroom: Engagement and Empowerment

shutterstock_1439509.jpg In a 2009 study by The Ken Blanchard Companies, senior executives estimated their workforces as operating at only 60 to 65 percent of their potential, with the average organization forfeiting about US$ 1 million annually in untapped profits. Years later, a lack of employee engagement and low productivity continues to be a real concern for enterprises.

Intranets, our modern day workrooms, are crucial to enhancing the worker experience and improving employee productivity. Today’s collaboration platforms offer a breadth of tools to entice users into a dynamic, engaging virtual workspace — however, they often lack the ability to pull people into a unified experience and are disconnected from traditional web content.

Modern portal platforms that include collaboration, web content and integration capabilities are gaining ground by simplifying IT infrastructures while enabling end users. Enterprises should look to implement three themes:

Create the Power User

Enterprises are dependent on development teams to build their web content and solutions. This dependency causes new business requirements to take a great deal of time to implement (slowing competitiveness) and usually means individual business requirements (where many innovations originate) go ignored unless shared by an entire business group.

Several applications such as modern portals provide an excellent resolution to these problems by enabling users with collaboration applications, and providing the ability to build simple web pages. Users can visually define simple web forms and process workflows without needing to understand a programming language.

Additionally, the growth of enterprise software marketplaces is playing a revolutionary role in enabling the end user. Users can easily assemble a web site using predefined web content templates, adding social applications such as a wiki, and adding applications from the marketplace such as an events calendar.

Poorly designed UI can slow down intranet engagement. It is not surprising that intranet users make use of only a very small percentage of available pages or applications, with some of the highest activity coming from new employees who mostly use them out of absolute necessity. Enabling end users to build web content and solutions allows them to become power users, and means more people are doing more things within the intranet, leading to increased productivity and innovation.

Empower the Informal Organization

Corporations consist of informal organizational structures where teams assemble across departmental lines in order to accomplish common tasks. But enterprise content and applications are often implemented to only support the formal organizational structure, while most of the demands for new content are from the informal organization.

A growing body of evidence supports the notion that company support for these spontaneous, organic groups can accelerate productivity and complement the more visible, top-down formal structure. An article in Fortune magazine, “The Hidden Workplace,” described a survey of 390 people working at large U.S. companies in which a third of the respondents said they ignored the structured rules when they found a better way themselves.

In addition, companies with management that supported informal employee networks boasted workers who were three times more likely to describe the environment as positive, according to the survey, conducted by consulting firm Katzenbach Partners.

Many organizations are implementing social collaboration systems to enable these teams. These systems allow several basic features, such as the ability to create an individual account profile, the ability to create or join a team of individuals, and the ability to create a space where all team members can share alerts, messages, web content, documents and applications. Those systems that are the most simple and integrated into the users’ overall web experience will become the most used and effective.

Unify the Web Experience

While social collaboration systems have allowed some teams to better collaborate and to do so without the need of developers, they are often used only intermittently, and are often disconnected from the rest of the intranet experience. Intranet researcher Jane McConnell stated last year in a post, “… people will start using social media features to individualize their entry pages and overall digital workplace experience once social features are better integrated into intranets.”

 

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