Hannah J Lobdell

Strategies for leveraging digital transformation in my business: do’s and don'ts

With 70% of employees working from home amid the pandemic, companies are beginning to experiment with innovative technologies that can better support a hub-and-spoke business model and ensure proper training, onboarding, etc. Investments into digital transformation may seem daunting, but in reality, U.S. companies are estimated to have saved $30 billion per day with work-from-home initiatives during COVID-19. This leaves room for exploration into tailored remote onboarding and technology solutions— but where can your company begin? Start by thinking through some main employee pain points and the do's and don'ts of digital transformation in the workplace. 

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Do explore new technologies to level up your onboarding process

According to a White Paper by Root.inc on The ROI of onboarding, there are several key ingredients to a successful onboarding strategy: 

  • Start the process early— productive new hires add to a company's bottom line more quickly.
  • Make employee onboarding about joining your organization as a whole, not just one subsection or team.  
  • Onboarding is meant to be a process, not a singular event.  
  • Get the necessary people involved— don't be afraid to network with other members of your HR or IT team to optimize the onboarding process for a new hire.

Training new employees in the remote work era has become a central point of frustration for companies. The United States Department of Labor and CDC guidelines have enforced strict regulations for in-person training, including social distancing, proper room ventilation, and more.  

Luckily, video conferencing has replaced many of the face-to-face meetings that one would typically associate with onboarding, allowing for easier compliance and better employee safety. However, many companies are still unsure of how to make the transition from in-person to digital onboarding seamless and as stress-free free as possible. 

Some companies have turned to new technology and tools to create a digital onboarding process. HubSpot, a company that now facilitates fully-remote onboarding, relies on analytics to keep an eye on live employee participation in their onboarding website, Learn@HubSpot. The program allows them to study how employees responded to new information, and if they were reacting negatively or positively to their training. Additionally, guides on remote working were written for employees and managers to continuously reference throughout the onboarding process

Other businesses have turned to virtual reality (VR) to immerse their employees in a simulation that is reflective of real-life scenarios. For example, IKEA began to use VR to help train employees on different job responsibilities, including inventory management and interacting with customers. The memory retention of an employee after completing VR training is two times higher than watching videos or reading documents because the employee is getting an interactive experience rather than third-party information. VR is not a required solution, but it is a viable option for those who wish to explore other avenues of digital training.  

Don’t forget network security: you need secure remote access

Cyber threats such as DDoS attacks, ransomware, and phishing are projected to cost companies a staggering $6 trillion by the end of 2021This has to do with the transition over to a remote and hybrid work model; as the demand for VPNs increased, overuse and over-exposure to the smart home threatscape has made them vulnerable. Also consider that they were never designed to secure IoT devices on a remote network in the first place, explaining why they are currently falling short from a defensive-in-depth perspective. To that end, multi-layered security systems are needed to defend the new corporate edge in the employee home. As companies look to incorporate new technology for optimizing their remote networks, additional security is non-negotiable.  

Antivirus and other security software should be made available to at-home employees to better protect against the most common forms of malware and system infiltrations. WiFi networks can serve as an access point for hackers, so bolstering an employee's security and password strength are additional things worth considering. If pertinent, a company handling confidential files should also have a centralized storage system where employees can send documents and other data to be housed and protected. For more ideas on how to build out a more secure network, check out Minim’s most recent article on Bring Your Own Network (BYON) security.  

Do cultivate a healthy workforce and culture 

Companies have seen a 47% increase in productivity from their work-from-home employees. Despite the improvement, 52% of employees have stated that they have not taken time to rest or recharge while working remotely. To combat this, companies have begun to make changes to the happenings of the virtual office.

Instead of having Zoom meetings on Fridays, Citigroup has experimented with removing them from the schedule and adding a Mental Health Day. Zoom burnout is a common occurrence and setting healthy boundaries for video conferencing is a step in the right direction. While this may not be a plausible approach for every company, there are many solutions aimed at enhancing employee wellness.

Workloads should be evaluated and adjusted (if needed) to have reasonable goals without overworking staff. Time off should be considered as well, as $300 billion is lost yearly due to work-related stress. While implementing pockets of time away from computers and cameras is an effective way to help employees combat burnout, new and exciting WFH technologies are constantly emerging to help monitor employee health, network security, and productivity. Be sure to explore and consider the resources available to you when attempting to find the right work-life balance for your team. 

Don’t rush digital transformation 

New and flashy tech is dropping every day, and it can get easy to be swept up in the glamour of new releases. The cost of digital transformation upgrades is projected to reach $6.9 trillion between 2020 and 2023. Rather than rapidly improving technology, it is suggested that upgrading should be taken slowly.

Replacing technology in small increments has been found to be the most successful approach for most companies, as it helps prevent backups and larger updates that could take months to complete. IKEA bought TaskRabbit in 2017, for example, and used it to assist individuals with assembling their purchased furniture. Now, customers can use augmented reality to help them find the right piece of furniture by using their phones to produce an image of their room and the furniture inside it. By improving the technology one update at a time, companies can follow IKEA's lead and avoid overloading their systems. It is also important to make sure that the technology benefits your employees and customers, as reception is as critical to digital transformation as initial integration.

Do explore new-age employee perks 

A new era of work-from-home employment opens exciting doors to unique employee perks. Benefits that could improve employee morale and productivity include: 

  • Work schedule flexibility 
  • A shorter work week 
  • Employee allowances

A new remote mindset has also led to a discovery regarding work flexibility. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that only 47% of employees have the work flexibility that they need. There are several ways companies can mitigate this concern and provide employees with more remote freedom.  

Timeshift allows for employees to tailor their schedules in such a way that increases productivity. For example, if there is an employee who works better at night, they may work from 4 pm to 12 pm instead of the normal 9-to-5 work day.  

Microagility is a term that allows employees to step away from their computers to take breaks or go to appointments without penalty, as they can make up the hours they missed.  

Part-time schedules are dependent on the company, as they may require productivity from their workers. With part-time schedules, employees have fewer hours sitting in front of a screen. 

A shorter work week is not a perk to be scoffed at. Perpetual Guardian, a business in New Zealand, found that when they switched to a 4-day work week, the stress levels of their employees dropped by 7 percent. With a workspace that was made more efficient, 78% of the employees felt that they could effectively manage their workloads and their at-home requirements.  

Another option is exploring new employee allowances. We've already talked about California's state requirement for WFH internet subsidies, and even international corporations like Google have experimented with stipends of up to $1,000 for remote working necessities. The options aren't limited to monetary allowances, either; what if you could provide your team with a new home WiFi setup for better network performance? Or, how about offering managed WiFi features to employees with bandwidth-stealing family members? The possibilities can extend as far as your  imagination— just be sure to take employee privacy and security into account.   

Don’t overlook employee privacy concerns 

As previously mentioned, corporate cybersecurity is at risk with the rise of external threat vectors. As companies begin to monitor computers, emails, phones, and other machines for enhanced remote security, employees are beginning to question which data is being recorded and collected. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) allows employers to intercept communications between two parties, which further highlights these concerns. In 2021, the regulatory and legal activity centered on employee privacy will increase by 100% as the need to maintain employee privacy while also keeping corporate data safe becomes a more prevalent focus.

The topic is tricky to navigate, as each state has a different law or practice in place for companies and their employees to follow. It can be difficult to manage employee privacy, but if their personal information is not abused or manipulated by the company, security measures like the techniques in the “network security” section can be used. Keeping employees safe and happy is the goal, and their privacy ties into that state of wellbeing.  

Leveraging digital transformation: what's your approach? 

Is there anything you think we missed, or a WFH strategy you'd like to share? Join the conversation and let us know how your company is embracing digital transformation. Follow us on social: 

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