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The hyper-connected workplace

Jun 14, 2018
Valarie Daunt of Deloitte outlines how, as the availability and capabilities of communication tools advance, Irish organisations are reshaping work practices, physical workspaces, and leadership approaches to ensure that greater connectivity leads to better productivity.

Deloitte has recently released the findings from the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, The Rise of the Social Enterprise. This year’s report is the largest survey of its kind with more than 11,000 global HR and business leaders weighing in. One of the trends that featured prominently, among global and Irish respondents alike, is that on the hyper-connected workforce.

But, what does that mean? Essentially, there are massive changes underway in how we connect. Social media and collaborative communications tools are transforming the world of work. Gone is the time when we could only contact colleagues nine to five via email, phone or in person. Today, instant messaging tools, such as Slack and Trello, have introduced new ways of working, allowing ideas to be shared instantly with colleagues on a regular basis, without having to wait for scheduled team meetings. 

The conservative approach

In Ireland, these new technologies and tools are changing how we communicate at work. 68% of Irish respondents said this new way of communication has had a positive impact on productivity and 75% envisage increased use of online communication platforms as a in the next three to five years. However, while a majority of respondents rank this trend “very important”, Irish organisations have displayed a somewhat conservative approach to adopting emerging communication channels and tools, with more than four in ten either only permitting the use of well-established tools or requiring tools to be carefully reviewed and approved by their IT departments. Only 6% of respondents promote the use of such tools among their employees. 

Given that workers are expected to spend more time using collaborative platforms in the future, it may be prudent for Irish organisations to trial newer means of communication, developing a digital strategy for introducing and promoting them in the workplace. Organisations will need to adopt a holistic approach, taking into account different working styles and introducing rewards to promote take-up while also ensuring the workforce is prepared and willing to use these tools. 

An important aspect of this strategy is to audit the tools in the marketplace to ensure they are satisfactory from a risk and IT perspective before introducing them into your office. Once approved, collaboration tools should be embedded in day-to-day processes so as to actively promote adoption.

The bottom line is that as social media and collaborative communication tools migrate from personal lives to the workplace, organisations must apply their expertise in team management, goal-setting and employee development to improve performance and promote cooperation. For the hyper-connected workplace to improve productivity and procedures, workspaces and leadership styles will need to be capable of capitalising on the power of these tools while, at the same time, managing any potential negative impacts.

Meeting the team’s needs

In determining which tools best meet the requirements of their teams and tasks, managers will need to consider factors such as culture, pace and formality of their organisation’s internal and external communications.

From a human resource’s perspective, the focus should be on creating a deliberate digital strategy for collaboration and communication platforms that extends beyond the technology, considering not only what tools to use, but ways to design the work environment to take effective advantage of these tools.

The chief revenue officer should also be involved, determining what risk policies should be in place surrounding the use of collaboration and social tools in the workplace. They should also implement training for the workforce on ways to use collaboration and social tools in a way that manages privacy and other related risks.

The chief operating officer needs to consider how collaborative tools can be embedded into day-to-day work processes to increase adoption and help increase productivity.
How we communicate in the workplace is changing, and rapidly. Increasingly, Irish organisations will need to embrace these new ways of communications to ensure they increase collaboration, and ultimately, productivity.

Valarie Daunt is Partner and Head of Human Capital in Deloitte.