Blog · 16 Apr 2020

How to help your team adopt digital working

The digital workplace has huge benefits, but only if people are taking up the tools you’ve put in place for them. Here’s how to get your team on board and help them make the transition.

Head of Digital Workplace User Adoption

Training can help manage complexities

User adoption is so important in today’s global enterprise because organisations and individuals are now operating in an increasingly complex environment. As we move to the cloud and use multiple tools and workspaces, people have the choice of communicating via phone, chat/presence and meetings. Choosing the best method for different conversations can be difficult, so an adoption strategy that gives guidance is vital for success.

While digital tools have the power to enhance the way teams and individuals collaborate, it’s simply not possible for organisations to achieve effective and lasting change if they’re working in the dark. By identifying the gap between what you do now and what you want to do in the future, you can put in place the right training and information your people need in order to get there.

Common mistakes you need to avoid

With so many different communication tools to choose from, we’re seeing lots of companies struggle to find the solution that will work best for them. A common mistake is not having a discovery phase in your adoption programme. If you want to develop an effective digital workplace, you need to understand the tools your people are currently using and how. Making assumptions is risky and you can read more about this in my blog ‘Discover how your people are collaborating in the cloud’.  

Another mistake we often see is global enterprises that aren’t getting buy-in at every point in their purchasing chain. This is particularly relevant if countries have previously purchased on a local basis, meaning different offices and teams are operating on different systems. It’s important to make sure everyone in the organisation is part of your global adoption journey otherwise you will struggle against different business units. You may need to look at multiple adoption programmes rather than one size fits all to improve your chance of success.

You also need to realise that the user adoption programme is probably part of a wider change management programme, involving potentially hundreds of projects and even more people. It will need to work hard to fit in with the overall journey and be backed by simple actions and clear reasoning to make sure your transition to a digital workplace is a success.

Top tips: how to get employees to adopt new ways of working

Like with any significant change, a gradual transition is usually best. Take a stepping-stone approach, recognising that adoption requires behavioural changes and gradually introducing just one tool, or one way to use a tool, at a time. For example, if you’re aiming to move to Teams, start by removing desk phones and move calls to Teams. Once everyone’s comfortable and confident with this, move to using it for external and internal conferencing.

Change, no matter what it is, is often difficult for people, so be firm and make it clear that everyone needs to move to the new digital platforms and tools. From here, it’s also important to reduce choice at an individual level, removing the services that you’re phasing out to minimise confusion and encourage adoption of the solution you’ve chosen. To help get people on-board with the change, be clear about the circumstances in which a tool should be used: when to, why to, how to. And, if you do offer a choice, make sure to be clear about your reasoning.

Along with education and training, try to motivate your teams so they see the transition to digital working as a positive one. Remember, ‘it cuts costs’ isn’t a particularly strong motivation for your team and probably won’t encourage them to adopt your solution! Instead, find out what will excite them about the new tools and show them the value. Perhaps it will make it easier for them to collaborate on documents, or it may mean they have less admin to take care of at the end of each day. Think back to your discovery phase and the problems you’re looking to solve and share this reasoning.

Don’t lose heart if persuading your teams is difficult. Remember, you’re dealing with increasingly tech-savvy people who are used to a lot of choice in their personal lives. Your team are aware of what’s technologically possible and can be stubborn in their use of certain tools. This might mean you have to police what tools are used and also justify the limitations of company use in order to win them over. For example, work video calls may be lower quality than those at home because the company has to prioritise traffic over its network — this is understandable, and if people are aware of why the quality is sometimes compromised, they’re less likely to push back.

When it comes to creating an effective digital workplace, the key thing to remember is that having the right technology isn’t enough. Everyone needs to be part of the journey and understand the why, when and how to use the new tools. This adoption process becomes even more important at times when organisations want more people to work from home at short notice. In our experience, it’s not unusual for half of an organisation’s workforce to not know how to use the tools they have in place. This is something that’s so easy to fix with an effective user adoption strategy but has such a negative impact on productivity if it isn’t done right.   

Find out how you can carry out a tailored adoption plan for your organisation and transition to a truly digital workplace.