5 essential steps for modernizing your workplace

June 23, 2022 BDO CANADA

With the rise of remote and hybrid workforces and flexible schedules, modernizing your workplace isn't just about aesthetics—it's about building a structure that puts trust, autonomy, and collaboration at the core of the organization.

If you're wondering how to create a modern workplace that will help you attract and retain top talent, promote productive and collaborative environments, increase organizational agility, and prepare you for the unexpected, keep reading.

But first, let's define what we mean by the modern workplace and why it's important to modernize.

The modern workplace defined

The diverse definitions of workplace modernization make it an ambiguous term. Many equate modernization with new ideas, change, and the evolution of the workplace. It can mean that employees should work wherever they want, both within the office or remotely.

From another standpoint, it means providing employees with new technology to do their jobs more efficiently. And from a cultural lens, it means moving towards emphasizing creativity, innovative thinking, and positive employee relationships for success in the workplace.

However you define it, you can achieve it in a variety of ways, including:

Adoption of digital technology

  • Remote work and flexible schedules
  • Modern processes and workflows
  • The workplace culture
  • The employee experience

Why it is essential to modernize the workplace

If the past couple years have taught us anything, it's the ability to adjust to new circumstances consistently. The havoc wreaked by COVID-19 forced many companies to act and react quickly to external changes.

As a result, cloud software and hardware deployment proved a tremendous asset for many businesses, offering flexibility, speed, and cost savings. Some downsized their workforces or slimmed their data centre operations, while others implemented a hybrid/remote work model to boost efficiency, happier employees, and more connected customers.

By now, it's clear to all businesses that agility is a necessity. But it takes an intentional shift in the business culture to develop the mindset, skillset, and technology adoption strategy to get there. Below are five steps for achieving a modernized workplace:

1. Define a workplace modernization strategy

To transform your workplace experience, you need to know how to unlock the value of tomorrow's technological advances. Unfortunately, many organizations have rolled out new digital tools only to fail to get the most out of them or consider how users will interact with them. Therefore, it's vital to understand the current state of your workplace to define your vision and determine your future state maturity levels. Begin by identifying stakeholders, including customers, HR, and IT, to help you set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) goals. In doing so, be sure to align them with your overall business and digital transformation goals while considering the demographics of the workforce and how the changes will impact them.

If you're planning to upgrade your existing IT systems, analyze the benefits of each option. Then, use this information to decide which applications should be kept, replaced, retired, or consolidated with others.

2. Prioritize and establish a roadmap

Building a modern workplace is an ambitious undertaking that requires cooperation between departments. It will be critical to establish a roadmap and blueprint for coordinating your modern workplace initiatives across marketing, sales, customer support, HR, and IT. The roadmap ensures that you know what needs to happen and when, and lets employees understand how they fit into the plan. The roadmap should include a timeline of events broken up into phases and milestones, descriptions and goals for each stage, and key protocols, procedures, roles, and responsibilities.

If you have issues with workflow or communication in the workplace, and you've identified open concept workspaces and hoteling as a solution. Ensure you've coordinated with key internal departments (HR, IT, operations) to align on the path forward and communicated effectively with employees.

3. Pilot/proof of concept to test out the plan

Before rolling out your workplace modernization project, consider testing your ideas first with a pilot or proof of concept. Research the practicality, functionality, commercial viability, and ROI of adopting new digital tools, processes, or modern HR policies. This will allow decision-makers to explore the idea's feasibility and potential. A pilot or proof of concept gives you the chance to identify unforeseen risks, gather data, collect feedback, and make early adjustments.

If you're considering implementing a new digital tool, it's a good idea to test the solution with a smaller group of standard and super users.

4. Implementation of new processes and digital tools

Assemble an implementation team that includes your IT, operations, and marketing department members and a project manager to lead the process. First, create a shared understanding and clear expectations about the new digital tool, what it does, and why you chose them. Then provide training for your employees and encourage dialogue and answer questions. This will help to reinforce the tool's benefits and demonstrate its everyday practical application in their workflow.

Assemble an implementation team that includes your IT, operations, and marketing department members and a project manager to lead the process. First, create a shared understanding and clear expectations about the new digital tool or protocol, what the change does, and why you chose to implement it. Then provide any necessary training for your employees and encourage dialogue and answer questions. This will help to reinforce the benefits and demonstrate its everyday practical application in their roles.

Budget constraints, employee resistance, and demonstrating ROI are significant barriers that can undermine modern workplace success. Therefore, it is essential to clarify the workplace strategy and understand how it will impact productivity and employee morale.

5. Rollout and support through change management

Once the plan is set, it's time to bring your modern workplace vision to life by communicating it effectively. To engage your employees in a meaningful way, you need to make a real effort. To really get people on board, you have to explain what the plan means from a practical perspective, and how it will impact their daily work. Taking your company's culture into account will be critical for successful rollout and user adoption.

You'll likely need to invest in training your employees on an ongoing basis through training sessions and/or on-demand videos and survey them to get their feedback on the training's effectiveness. Give special praise to employees who follow the new policies and procedures well, and remind people of the consequences if they try to get around them.

If you're asking employees to return to work in a more regular or hybrid capacity, it's clear that the way we work won't go back to the pre-pandemic days. Two-way communication and a well-thought out implementation plan will help ensure employees feel heard throughout the transition.

You need to attract and retain talent, we're here

There are countless benefits to creating a modern workplace that will help you attract and retain top talent, and keep your people focused on working better together. A modern workplace starts with putting trust, autonomy, and collaboration at the core of the organization. BDO experts can help you implement a modernization strategy to stay competitive.

For more information, contact:

Jason Cigan, Digital and Modern Workplace Leader, jcigan@bdo.ca

Sam Abdulrrazek, Partner, Digital & Production Advisory Services, sabdulrrazek@bdo.ca

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