Some companies have pushed through three years’ worth of digital transformation in three months (paywall). This happened in an environment in which business leaders relied on IT executives to do what it took to keep their companies running. The IT leaders who effectively established true digital workplaces prior to the pandemic found it much easier to help thousands of employees to productively work from home and enable employees to work safely from other environments.
IT leaders who accomplished that became heroes in the eyes of the rest of the C-suite. And now digital workplace technology is also making it possible to create productive hybrid offices.
But while IT leaders are more important than ever, their role is changing. They are now much closer to the business, which wants to use IT as an enabler to grow and attract and retain top talent.
People have choices in their personal lives. They want choices at work, too. So, IT needs to break out of the one-size-fits-all model and address individual preferences and needs. Think of it like this. If your new employer lets you choose your PC or phone, you would likely be encouraged.
However, the choice of device is just one aspect of the employee experience. IT leaders also must rethink how they handle employee onboarding, how to make it easy for associates to get technical help and how to ensure quality communication and collaboration experiences.
Here are six ways that IT leaders and teams can create better digital workplace experiences.
Leverage Modern Device Management To Do Over-the-Air Computer Provisioning
Many companies today need a simple way to turn up PCs and laptops, wherever they are, to get those devices — and the people who will be using them — working. That can be a challenge in an environment in which many people are working from home or in other remote locations.
Yet in today’s competitive world, associates can’t be without a device for days. Use over-the-air provisioning to set up devices for new hires and existing employees whose gear is broken.
Create A Tech Cafe To Help Stage Equipment And Provide Work-From-Home Kits
Handling things remotely can be very helpful. But sometimes people want to connect in person.
Use a tech cafe to enable in-person connections. That way, employees can stop by to talk to IT experts and get materials. Everyone understands this model because it’s a consumer approach.
Tech cafes were popular before the pandemic, but they can be especially effective in the hybrid work world. When people were in the office 9-to-5, they could just wait for IT to arrive at their desks to help with problems. In the hybrid work world, more people will be popping into the office. When they do that, they can also just pop over to the tech cafe and get what they need.
Use AI-Enabled Automation To Handle An Influx Of Support Calls
Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are really maturing. Consider employing this technology to handle easy questions from associates. This will help eliminate some of the frustration that business associates face in waiting for IT team members to answer calls and respond to emails or chat.
Avoid creating experiences that are clunky and put users in a circular loop. The last thing you want is for AI to respond to users with reams of text or put people on a road to nowhere. Configure your automated system to connect users with agents if it can’t provide an answer.
Carefully select the IT service desk use cases to which you apply AI. About 20% of requests into IT involve people following up on existing requests. Use automation to provide status updates.
Don’t Wait For Trouble — Automatically Detect And Fix Problems As They Occur
But many issues in the IT environment go unreported because people just live with them. As I mentioned in an earlier article, don’t let people suffer in silence. You don’t have to wait for associates to reach out to improve their experiences. Leverage proactive problem detection.
You can do proactive problem detection on devices or for unified communications and collaboration to understand and address issues that may be creating problems for associates. For example, somebody’s video may be freezing on Teams or Zoom. With proactive problem detection, you can identify such problems, resolve these issues that may be creating user frustration and then reach out to impacted associates to let them know that you fixed it.
Employ Remoting Tools To Help Eliminate The Need for Physical Fixes
Traditionally, associates and IT had to interface in-person to solve user problems. But in today’s world, sometimes you want to eliminate the need for an IT expert to be physically next to an associate to fix problems. Use remoting tools such as merged reality to allow for that.
Perhaps an associate has a problem with a printer or router in his home office. Sending a technician to his home can be challenging. Some people don’t want strangers in their homes.
Use a one-way or two-way camera to understand the problem. For example, an associate can show IT that her modem is flashing. An IT expert can then walk them through how to fix it.
Supply Employees With A Good Communications And Collaboration Experience
Ensure that people have leading collaboration tools like Zoom or Teams. But don’t stop there.
Focus on end-to-end collaboration experiences. Assess whether you have the proper infrastructure and networks to deliver quality video experiences for in-office associates.
You may not know when people will be back in the office. But when they do return, more associates will use videoconferencing. According to an ESG survey of more than 500 executives, 30% of IT executive respondents believe that the ability of workers to effectively incorporate online collaboration tools into daily work patterns will be the most significant lasting change of the pandemic from a technology perspective.
Start work where you are today to enable better digital workplace experiences for associates, wherever they work. This will help your business create happier employees and a more successful organization.
This article first appeared in Forbes.