How to tackle tooling inefficiency in your digital workplace

From Teams to Docs to Email then Slack and back again, the digital workplace is wildly inefficienct.

When the pandemic hit, digital communication and collaboration tools became critical for businesses. Every day, employees would set up at their kitchen tables, bedroom side tables or home offices and choruses of “You’re on mute!” could be heard across the world.

It is reported that Zoom has nearly tripled its market share since 2019. And WIRED shared the number of Slack users jumped by 2 million in just 2 weeks between March 10 and March 25 2020.

As Covid-19 wore on, concerns about burnout and the ‘Great Resignation’ combined with a growing digital-first attitude to work, led companies to add well-being and reward programs to their digital communication and collaboration investments.

As well as this, employees brought in their own favourite tools, on a mission to find their own remote working utopia.

The rise of the digital workplace was unstoppable. Before we knew it, flitting from Zoom to Docs to Email then Slack and back again became a working normality.

But switching between multiple tools to get stuff done wastes time, and drains efficiency and engagement. Today’s workforce is swamped by an ever-growing array of digital workplace tools that aren’t delivering on their promises. They make the workday a notification-stuffed distraction slog.

What’s the business and employee impact?

According to Okta, companies deployed 89 new apps on average in 2021, compared to 58 in 2015. At larger companies, that figure is now almost 200.

This explosion in digital workplace tools is neither inherently all good nor all bad.

But what’s essential is that this willingness to deploy new digital workplace tools must be balanced with an acknowledgement of the very real — and not always positive — impact that these tools often have.

According to WalkMe, close to 1 in 3 digital workplace tools are duplicative or add no value. This problem is further proved by software developer, Freshworks, saying that more than half of IT professionals polled say they pay for SaaS tooling that their IT teams never use.

This duplication is not only a huge waste of money — imagine the licensing cost that is being sunk into tools that nobody sees value in — it’s also a huge waste of time.

A recent study of 20 teams across three big employers found that workers flipped between different tools and websites 1200 times every day. That’s just under four hours a week. Or five weeks a year.

Bloomberg writes that the researchers dubbed this as the “toggling tax,” but it’s better known as context switching. Context switching is a hugely inefficient habit that eats into focus time, reduces employees’ ability to actually get stuff done and, over time, increases stress and drives burnout.

What can you do about inefficiency?

Digital Workplace and IT leaders must be active and intentional in the design and decision-making surrounding the digital workplace. You wouldn’t open a physical workplace — an office — without any plan for your seating, windows, desks or meetings.

So why open a digital workplace without any design, employee expectations or analytics?

1. Continuous review

Think back to why you chose Slack over Microsoft Teams or Microsoft Teams over Slack and continuously ask yourself whether your digital workplace investments are meeting the initial promises that got you hooked.

2. Avoid oversimplification

The impact of your digital workplace tooling will be nuanced and complex. Depending on an employee’s age, WFH set-up, care responsibilities, focus time requirements, tenure, and seniority (the list goes on), they will have a different experience of the digital workplace.

Ensure that any decisions about the digital workplace and your employees are not driven by knee-jerk reactions or a gut feeling alone, but by the latest data.

3. Continuous digital workplace analytics

The digital workplace is where everything happens. It’s therefore holds masses of data about how work is getting done. Harness the power of this data with digital workplace analytics with innovative providers including Temporall.

Contact us to see how our Digital Workplace Analytics platform can help you drive better business outcomes.

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