We're at a unique point in time when technology can bring new value to organizations. And this value isn’t just about bringing cost reduction through automating repetitive labor, rather it’s using technology to increase the value each employee brings to the organization.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been widely praised for the way he changed Microsoft's culture to focus on people — both employees and citizens of the world. He’s also clear that a company exists to create value for its owners. In his book, "Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone," he writes, “At the end of the day, leaders of any company are evaluated based on their ability to grow the business, to clear the way for innovations that inspire customers. As CEOs, we’re accountable for generating the best returns to shareholders.” But to get those returns, Nadella's focus is on the people. He talks about the ‘C’ in CEO being the curator of culture. He also states, “Microsoft no longer employs people, people employee Microsoft.”
Taken collectively, these ideas suggest for a company to succeed a few things must be true of employees:
- Productivity is a function of their well-being.
- They focus on the right things at the right time.
- They can obtain the information and support they need quickly and easily.
- Work produced is of high quality.
Today's Window of Opportunity for Businesses
What’s different now? What created the window of opportunity for technological capabilities? The pandemic created a number of catalysts:
- Massive deployment of online collaboration systems.
- Remote work models deployed at scale.
- Software vendors such as Microsoft shifted significant resources and budget into workplace technologies.
At the same time, a number of organizations are having to restart their business. Retail and travel slowed to a standstill during the pandemic — now they need to meet the accelerated demands of people eager to return to shopping and vacations. These businesses need to quickly onboard and/or retrain a massive number of staff. Technology can help.
Most organizations now have technology platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, underpinning their work. These platforms make possible new insights and functionality including:
- Tracking work habits, such as emails sent and received outside of work hours and percent of time spent in meetings.
- Measuring interactions between groups and employees, such as how often managers met with employees and volume of emails between departments.
- Capturing much of the intellectual capital, both formal and informal, in a single searchable information store.
The objective of generating these analytics is to allow for better metrics-based insights into the habits, attitudes and productivity levels of employees across the organization. Consider all those video meetings we’re having these days. By measuring the timing and duration of those calls, these metrics could help inform corporate policies to restrict meetings to daytime hours or allow leaders to design better employee engagement policies.
Match Your Existing Technology to Pressing Concerns
Want to take advantage of this window of opportunity? Consider what your immediate issues are. Is it employee well-being? Training new staff? Connecting remote and in-person people in a hybrid environment? Once you understand where you should start, that can be mapped to the workplace technology platform you have in place to capture the opportunity.