Work-from-home jobs aren’t going anywhere. While some companies have returned to the office, the benefits of remote work are too formidable—for both employees and employers.
Cost savings on office rent and overhead, improved production, and access to a limitless talent pool are not results most business owners would turn down. To capitalize on them, and to grow into the kind of digital workplace people want to be a part of, companies must carefully build the best digital employee experience possible.
The seismic shifts brought about by the pandemic are only going to continue. According to Forrester’s Anywhere-Work Guide for Tech Pros, “66 percent of enterprise leaders plan to pursue hybrid or fully remote workplace models.” A massive percentage of the working population can therefore be expected to work from home for at least a chunk of their week. Just as with traditional employee experience, it’s paramount that leaders keep their teams engaged, empowered and satisfied. Well-executed digital employee experience management is becoming a more essential skill every day.
The Ideal Digital Employee Experience for Remote Workers
In truth, digital employee experience evades a single solidified description, partly because it’s still a relatively new concept. It changes from company to company. And it’s evolving every day.
If, as Gallup defines it, employee experience is “the entire journey an employee takes with your organization,” then it has to now include a digital element, as that is unquestionably part of the journey. And if the elements that typically make a great employee experience include onboarding, development opportunities, organizational culture and shared values among others, then digital employee experience also consists of all of those same elements PLUS all of the technological tools employees rely on to do their jobs.
Download the guide to transform your onboarding experience into a brilliant one:
The Tools of the Trade
Having the right technological stack is key to developing a digital experience that allows employees to thrive. The basic tools should enhance, not hinder, communication and collaboration. Some of the most essential tools include:
Instant messaging software
Video conferencing software
Project management tools
Many of these are what teams used in the office before remote work became such a large part of our lives. Now they’re relied on more heavily, so employers need to make sure they work seamlessly so productivity doesn’t suffer due to technological hiccups or roadblocks.
When deciding what technology to employ, look no further than your most frequent users. IT help desks or internal support teams will have fantastic insight into what users are using the most, which technology they struggle with, and what ideas users might have to create a better tech stack that makes their jobs easier.
Not having the right tools can lead to dissatisfaction and can lead to frustration and turnover of employees, if they feel they can't do their jobs effectively and efficiently. This is an easy mistake to make, but one that can also be remedied with some user insights.
Making the Social Connection
Tools, onboarding and culture don’t quite fully encapsulate digital employee experience. Many employees would agree that even if everything listed above were present to the fullest extent and flawlessly functional, there would still be a key element missing from remote work. According to a survey conducted by Indeed, 45 percent of respondents said they missed face-to-face meetings with coworkers, and
73 percent said they miss socializing with their coworkers in person.
The proverbial water cooler talk isn’t idle time. It turns out it’s essential to a company’s success. Replacing real, face-to-face human interaction is difficult no matter how many video meetings you have. Digital employee experience should therefore include some means of building personal connections. That could mean:
digital happy hours
occasional in-person events during the workday
after work meet ups
encouraging employees to meet up for a morning coffee
on-line affinity groups for sharing personal information like pets or hobbies
There are countless other possibilities.
One of the best ways to discover what your employees want is to simply ask. By gathering a small cross section of remote employees and engaging them in a focus group, it will be amazing what ideas and insight they have for creating connection in the workplace.
By listening to the voice of the employee, other insights might emerge which can bring your digital employee experience to the next level.
It takes creativity, but it pays off in the end.
Finding ways to build a stronger connection among employees may also build stronger connections between employees and the company and can lead to incredible strides in positive job perceptions—not to mention more of the benefits a brilliant digital employee experience brings.
Benefits of Digital Employee Experience
Unsurprisingly, the benefits enjoyed by companies known for a great employee experience are much the same as what a great digital employee experience leads to.
Higher productivity, greater employee retention and reduced costs are a few of the examples of employee experience ROI companies can count on.
Employees can enjoy added benefits too—namely in the form of a better work-life balance. Although working from home has myriad advantages, it can also make it more difficult to separate work and home life. Study after study shows that large percentages of remote workers are spending more time on the job now that they’re working from home. One study referenced by the Society for Human Resource Management put the number at 45 percent of workers. On top of that, there can be more noise and distractions that prevent even the most focused workers from being as productive. A well-planned digital employee experience strategy can help counteract those negative aspects, empowering employees to seek better balance.
Implementing Digital Employee Experience
Improving digital employee experience doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. The biggest challenge may honestly be putting the tools mentioned above in place. The in-person connectedness and work-life balance part can be easy. It can be as simple as sending out a calendar invite to a digital happy hour or encouraging your team to make the most of the flexibility remote life affords and step away from work when they need to during the day.
Ironically, the key to a great digital employee experience—despite all the technological bells and whistles needed for remote work—is making it more human.