“So bored!” by Adreson Vita Sá is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Employees aren't turning to their workplace tools for entertainment. They just want to get their work done. PHOTO: Adreson Vita Sá

Let's face it: work isn't cool.

Organizations have been trying for years to increase employee adoption of tools — and make work fun in the process — by incorporating gamification into the work environment. 

Gamification hasn't increased employee engagement and motivation the way organizations hoped it would. This is especially true with information workers, where gamification efforts fell flat. 

The root of the problem is we, as an industry, are focusing on the wrong thing based on our belief that people enjoy work.

Perhaps people don't enjoy work — and that's OK. Information workers don't have a glamorous job. 

So instead of forcing fun where there's none to be had, why don't we focus instead on helping employees work in an efficient manner?

The Secret to User Adoption? It’s Simple

The secret to better user adoption, engagement and efficiency is, quite simply, simplicity. Workers want to do their jobs and want technology at their disposal to enable them to do it efficiently and quickly.

Spending 10 minutes to find a button to upload a document is not only a massive waste of time but also one of the fastest ways to get employees frustrated, unwilling to fully utilize technologies and unproductive. 

As Microsoft Office is prevalent in millions of employees offices, we'll use it as an example of how technology can aid and hinder productivity.  

Time for a Revamp

Outlook is a beast, Excel dominates and Word is relatively easy to use. However, when we branch out into the supporting technologies, such as SharePoint, Office 365 and the like, the water gets a bit murkier and leads me to the following conclusions:

1. Users are too forgiving

When Facebook changes a feature on its timeline there is basically a worldwide revolt, but Microsoft Word requiring five steps to save a document to SharePoint goes ignored. I think the reason for this is users have alternative means of getting the job done.

When Facebook rolls out an update, you can't operate the website or app any other way. With Microsoft Word and SharePoint employees have a number of options to still "word process" without complying to the company policy of saving documents to the records store.

2. Windows Explorer is still king

On many occasions Windows and File Explorer trumps SharePoint. Why? Not for its features, security or any reason other than its simplicity.

3. It's time to go back to basics

I use the Microsoft ecosystem and find it easy to use, but we can't ignore the resistance from a growing user community.  

Microsoft needs to create multiple layers into its product suite, which allow users to interact simply while providing more advanced users an option to delve deeper.  We see small glimpses of this in the classic versus new document library view, but Microsoft Word and Office 365 integration interface need a serious revamp to make it easier for people to consume.

Face it: creating documents and updating policies is not as fun as sharing photos on Instagram and statuses on Facebook — and it never will be. But there's no reason why we shouldn't make it as easy as possible for everyone to use their work tools with little or no training. 

Simplicity remains key to adoption.