Frustrated employee in front of a computer covering her eyes

Digital workplace challenges and how to overcome them

Everyone experiences workplace challenges here and there. While many companies initiated virtual work years ago, many others have had to follow suit hurriedly, without adequate preparation.

And, as one might expect, some challenges have arisen. Let’s go over how you can get past a variety of workplace issues, from organizational resistance to legacy technology and more.

1. Organizational resistance to change

There’s no way around it: the digital workplace is a huge change, whenever it happens.

And as with any change — large or small — there will be some resistance.

Fortunately, well managed emotional intelligence, transparency, and empathy can help bring skeptics on board more readily.

Dealing with mistrust or lack of confidence

To get started in the best way possible, be transparent about the value of the changes coming around the corner and recognize the importance of each employee. 69% of employees say they would work harder if they were better appreciated by management.

But employee expectations don’t necessarily match how management views its performance. Nearly 3 out of 4 executives feel they are being “very transparent” with regard to remote working policies, but fewer than half of the employees in a 10,000-person white-collar worker survey agree.

Finding common ground and implementing new processes and technologies can be a challenge. One way to deal with this is to use change management exercises: break the ice by listening to employees’ concerns and help them ease into changes; make sure the team understands the company’s goals and why changes are necessary.

It’s important to remember - implementing change is difficult for everyone involved, both executives and employees. Creating a digital workplace, however, is worth it.

Recognizing emotional response to change

Change makes people anxious. It can even make them angry, cause them to fall into depression, or develop unwarranted fear over job security. The Kübler Ross model of the grief cycle is applicable here. Some argue that, rather than 5, there are 7 stages of change resistance. Take for example:

Immobilization. Immobilized employees can’t concentrate, can’t plan, and can’t work at a high level. To help them, repeat information about upcoming changes and why they’re good. Use different media — email, video chats, etc. — and get their input.

Exploration. By the time immobilized employees have made it to the Exploration stage, they’ve become positive-minded and curious, and they routinely ask questions about their place in the change. Make sure you recognize how far they’ve come, continue to put a fine point on changes, and openly announce learning and development plans.

Whatever the precise nature of employee response to change, remember to empathize with their concerns and help them understand step-by-step what will be expected of them.

2. Migrating from legacy applications

More than 75% of respondents affirm that legacy applications are hindering their organization’s digital transformation initiatives. 91% of respondents agree or strongly agree that updating apps and interfaces is key to workplace flexibility.

The intelligent use of automation and machine learning is key to continued business success as well.

There’s a cybersecurity dimension to this too. The average cost of downtime from a cyberattack is $84,650 per hour. Intelligent automation can usually detect threats more quickly and efficiently than human monitoring can. Plus, automation frees people up to do the tasks that require human intelligence and interpretation that machines just can’t imitate.

The key is that your digital workplace works for everyone. Sticking with legacy applications today may hinder that. To determine the best solution for your business, a workplace consulting expert or IT consultant can help.

3. Data and application security

The average cost of a data breach is around $4.24 million.

Companies that are well on their way to complete cloud computing catch cyberattacks an average of 77 days earlier than those who are further upstream in the process.

Getting ahead with cyber security can pay big dividends. Start with cybersecurity best practices. Evading phishing and ransomware is important and are helped by:

  • Establishing standards for passwords

  • Inaugurating multi-factor authentication

  • Instituting a VPN (virtual private network)

  • Clarifying the use of vulnerable mobile devices

  • Training employees to recognize cybersecurity threats

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4. Lack of centralized notifications

As employee work locations become more decentralized (remote combined with hybrid office practices), centralized communications become more important than ever.

Not surprisingly, 68% of businesses prefer a centralized communication and notification platform.

Most companies have email of some sort. But email and video conferencing – especially free versions – are not likely to provide the full range of tools and analytics businesses need for scalable productivity.

Creating a unified, streamlined communication network between all on-site and remote workers is essential.

5. Issues with productivity

The stubborn myth that remote work cuts productivity persists. And decreasing productivity can be disastrous for a company.

But as business leaders have discovered, remote workers are as productive – sometimes more so – as a traditional office-based workforce. The key is to have the processes, tools, automation and policies in place to manage how your company works.

Issues with employee engagement

37% of respondents said they are working longer hours since the start of the pandemic, while 40% said they’ve experienced burnout during that same period.

Productivity isn’t so much about employee happiness as employee engagement. Companies with higher engagement levels have a 59% lower turnover rate than those that don’t. This can be difficult with a hybrid workforce; 45% of new remote workers said their sense of belonging suffers working at home.

Maintaining employee engagement is important. Try:

  • Clarifying performance expectations

  • Supplying employees with the tools needed to get their jobs done

  • Providing learning and development opportunities

  • Fostering a culture of collaboration and positive coworker interactions

That’s engagement for you

Creating a digital workplace comes with difficulty but no matter where you are in the process, as long as you’re on the path, you’re heading in the right direction.

Digital workplace challenges can be overcome by taking an empathetic view of employee concerns, refusing to cling steadfastly to outdated technology, and making sure employees are engaged — which is not the same thing as being happy.

Have questions about your digital workplace strategy? Our workplace professionals can help.

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