With the Bank of England announcing the UK is now likely in a recession, business leaders may be tempted to drive people back to the office to justify high commercial property leases. Instead of investing in the right tech stack to enable teams to work where and when suits them, they are looking to build resilience by avoiding change. This, however, is a false trade-off.
Stuart Templeton, Head of UK at Slack, believes that boosted resilience and improved employee experience aren’t mutually exclusive. This becomes clear when looking at how organisations can use technology to build a digital HQ that empowers their teams with flexibility, and their businesses with greater competitiveness.
In this exclusive insight for HR Grapevine, Stuart explores how the right digital infrastructure creates a more agile team, better flexibility for employees, and a more resilient business...
Both individual attitudes toward work, and the macroeconomic environment, are in flux.
This is creating a challenging set of circumstances for businesses. They simultaneously need to adapt to deliver an employee experience that enables their employees to flourish, and build resilience to a challenging market. In fact, according to PwC, 84% of business leaders are exploring organisational resilience.
Chief among the changing expectations from individual workers is the demand for flexibility. Research from Future Forum shows that just 20% of workers want to be in the office full-time—the lowest figure recorded.
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The reason for this can be attributed to the overall experience of work—full-time office workers report lower employee experience scores across the board. They feel more stress, less satisfaction, and have poorer work-life balance than those working remotely or in hybrid environments.
But despite this evidence, with the Bank of England announcing the UK is now likely in a recession, business leaders may be tempted to drive people back to the office to justify high commercial property leases. Instead of investing in improved digital experiences that enable greater productivity and faster decision making, they are looking to build resilience by avoiding change (which can be seen as risky). This, however, is a false trade-off.
Boosted resilience and improved employee experience aren’t mutually exclusive. This becomes clear when looking at how organisations can use technology to build a digital headquarters (HQ) that empowers their teams with flexibility, and their businesses with greater competitiveness. By doing so, they can meet both the needs of their teams, and the market.
Streamlining the tech stack means more agile teams
Business leaders looking to unlock the promise of the digital HQ, should start by thinking about how they can get more from their existing tech stacks to drive more agile decision making and help teams focus on the most important work. Or in other words, how they can improve employee experiences and business productivity.
A focus on streamlining is key because today most enterprises use more than 1,000 different pieces of software and are asking their teams to switch between multiple apps and approaches in their daily work. Emails, video calls, CRM, expense software, HR software—jumping between these slows work down. In challenging times businesses should be helping people focus on what matters most. So how do they cut down this overload?
The trick isn’t cutting tools out entirely, but bringing those you regularly use together in a platform that’s connected and inclusive for everyone, regardless of their location. Firms also need to look at technologies that can help them reduce unnecessary meetings and video calls.
This drives up the flexibility that workers are demanding by reducing time lost searching for information, switching apps, or attending low-value meetings—meaning employees, and the business, benefits from more focused, engaged, and motivated teams.
This is what the digital HQ is all about: everyone finding the information, tools, and workflows they need in a single place. But what does this look like in action?
How the digital HQ drives flexibility and resilience
In the digital HQ, collaboration is built around channel-based messaging. This acts as a way to bring clarity and order to work and each channel might be built around a project, topic, or team—with all the relevant people, and the tools they use, added.
An effective digital HQ should default to transparency when it comes to the visibility of this information. This enables teams to work autonomously and flexibly because it’s simple to find information without the need for searching through apps or inboxes or joining endless meetings. The result is the whole business benefits from a more productive, resilient, workforce because people aren’t being bogged-down in busy work.
Gymshark is just one company that recognised the potential of the digital HQ to drive a more efficient approach to work. The hyper-growth fitness brand moved all of its employees to a channel-based digital HQ in Slack, where it could integrate teams and the apps they use every day—like Zoom, Outlook, Welkio, Polly—into a single space.
With all relevant project information in its own channel, the Gymshark team drove up efficiency, made faster decisions, and were more strategically focused. The result? Projects are now being completed in record time with 95% of the team’s communication taking place in channels.
Rather than seeing the current economic downturn as a signal to bunker-down in the status-quo, it’s clear that these are the types of gains that organisations should be chasing in the face of economic headwinds.
Now is the time for leaders to be bold and think about how technology can improve employee experiences—and in turn their business resilience. There’s a clear opportunity to do this, to benefit both individual experiences and the business as a whole by helping teams focus on productive work in a flexible way—and it starts with the digital HQ.