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Changing technology is easy; changing behaviour is not.

Share some lessons learned to make your modern workplace transformation a success

Creating a modern workplace is key to digital transformation. If you’re embarking on such an initiative, remember that changing technology is easy, but changing behaviour is not. Begin with the end in mind, ask what you want to achieve with your new modern workplace, and address user behaviour, user adoption and usage from the outset.

Digital transformation is nothing new. It’s a daily reality for any company. Some are disruptors, and others are disrupted. Covid-19 has made this even clearer. Everyone understands that digital transformation - not evolution - is required to maintain a competitive edge. That’s why so many digital transformation initiatives have been started around the world.

Modern workplace projects are a key part of such digital transformation initiatives. After all, it’s people who make companies successful, and they need to be able to do their work as efficiently and effectively as possible. So when you start thinking about a modern workplace project, it’s essential to start with the end in mind.

Your project shouldn’t be about technology. Technology by itself is worthless. It’s what you and your users do with it that (potentially) creates value. So before we defined the scope of our own modern workplace project, we asked ourselves some hard questions. You might want to use them as a checklist when embarking on your own initiative.

Questions to ask before a modern workplace initiative

  • What do we want to achieve? And how is this project going to execute on this?
  • What user behaviour do we want to see and support, and what behaviour do we want to stop or reduce?

For example, do we want to facilitate more remote work? Or better quality online meetings? Do we want to start supporting hybrid meetings? Or stop sending documents as attachments and work with links and single versions of truth?

  • How about BYOD (bring your own device)?

Should employees be able to access company documents on their private laptops and mobile phones? How do we want to support working on tablets?

  • What current set of applications do we want to stop using and replace? Is this realistic?

We made sure that decommissioning them was part of the project scope to avoid simply adding a number of new applications to the landscape and increasing complexity instead of reducing it. Paying twice for the same capabilities has never been a smart thing to do for a CIO.

  • How important is user experience? How important is security?

And of course our legal and compliance requirements need to be addressed. Balancing these is one of the most difficult challenges in a modern workplace project.

  • Is a SaaS solution like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace the answer?

Maybe. But certainly not the whole suite at once. It would be almost impossible to handle the change. So what applications should be part of this project, and who will support these applications after go-live?

Get user buy-in

After you’ve answered these and other relevant questions, you have to think about your users. Because in the end, any technology is only as good as how well it is used.

If users don’t know how to use applications effectively, the benefits will be small, or even negative. This means user enablement is critical to the success of any modern workplace project. Include user pilots in your project. Learn from your users. And make sure your users understand the following:

Why you are implementing the new solution.

When it comes to a new modern workplace, many employees will be instrumental in the change you’re promoting. It’s important to tend to their needs throughout the change journey. Transparent communication is key.

How existing processes will change. 

Your leaders, colleagues, customers and suppliers all live in their own reality – and it’s likely to be different from yours. So invest in understanding their way of working before you force them to do something that doesn’t work for them.

How to use the solution.

Your user base can range from people who started their careers on terminals to millennials who are so accustomed to touchscreens that they don’t know what a keyboard is. Your ability to transform is only as good as the average skill level shared by the majority of your employees. And don’t forget about the new joiners. Training is never done.

Who to contact if they require support with any problems or questions.

If you’re working with an internal service desk, make sure that they’re equipped with standardised scripts. Alternatively, if you’re working with an external service provider, make sure you’ve selected a partner who can provide the highest level of support required for the new applications.

Whether they can offer feedback and make suggestions to improve the solution.

One of the best ways to build support organisation-wide is to give everyone a voice and a platform to share their views throughout the transition. Active user communities are pure gold.

A modern workplace project is all about changing and supporting the right behaviours, supporting your business model and regulatory requirements, keeping your data secure, and implementing the capabilities you need most. It’s not about implementing new technology. Remember that people aren’t able to change their behaviour overnight, so you need to plan for a journey, not a weekend trip – which of course is true for any digital transformation initiative.

Henrico Dolfing

About the author

Henrico Dolfing, CIO at PwC Switzerland, is leading the cloud transformation at PwC Switzerland and enables the new way of working our clients and employees expect. In a series of blogs, he reflects on our own workplace transformation journey and shares four lessons learned. The last fifteen years he has helped C-level executives in the financial service industry with interim management and recovering troubled technology projects. Henrico has a strong technical background as a software developer and solution architect, including an M.Sc. degree in Computer Science and a B.Ec. in Economics.

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Our journey towards a modern workplace

If you’d like to find out more about PwC Switzerland’s experience with its own modern workplace transformation, register now for the webinar on 14 October.

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Urs Küderli

Urs Küderli

Partner and Leader Cybersecurity and Privacy, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 42 21

David Gehring

David Gehring

Cloud Security Lead, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 77 47