Top tips: Culture’s critical role in digital workplace transformation

Javier Diez-Aguirre, Vice President, Corporate Marketing at Ricoh Europe discusses why organisations need to invest in culture in order to build the agility and adaptability needed for long term digital success

Management expert Gary Hamel popularised the phrase: “You can’t build an adaptable organisation without adaptable people – and individuals change only when they have to, or when they want to”.

Today’s leading businesses all encourage agility and adaptability. For years, Facebook’s mantra was “move fast and break things”. This reflected the senior leaders’ values and priorities. Clearly, this culture was the very difference between business success and failure.

Overall, 81% of European employees in recent research conducted by Ricoh believe new technologies such as automation and AI are changing how we work. But they also identify closed internal cultures as a huge hurdle to its success.

This is a worry. For workplace technology to be truly impactful, people have to want to use it. Successful digital workplaces foster innovative cultures that make the most of costly technology investments. Here are three techniques for successfully laying these foundations:

  1. Creating an open-dialogue – technology is disruptive by nature. Staff should feel encouraged to share ideas about working smarter – even if they challenge the status-quo. Employees mostly want more speed and flexibility. But 72% think senior management only introduces new technology to cut costs. Honest, open forums help ensure employees’ concerns and suggestions make it into the decision-making process. Everyday users’ needs must be considered.
  2. Benchmarking against the best – analyse how market leaders use technology. Assessing these strategies and the role digital culture plays will help anyone lagging behind catch-up. Nearly half of employees (45%) say they are attracted to work for competitors using innovative technology. A similar number (46%) question whether the technology they use at work enables them to be their most productive. Businesses can’t afford to lose talent by failing to fully empower staff.
  3. Future proof people – fostering a tech-ready culture is a continuous journey. All staff, old and new, must feel confident with the tools they’re given. Only 27% of employees think their company invests the right amount in technology training. Clearly, handbooks aren’t enough. Practical demonstrations, workshops and vendor support must be common-place. Proper training is essential for encouraging employees to make the most of exciting new tech.

Mike Bohndiek, Head of IT at professional football club West Ham United, which has been working with Ricoh, comments on this. “Moving locations is a challenge for any organisation, but it also gives a welcome chance to refresh IT. Workplace technology should empower staff and reflect the business’ needs. This includes specialist requirements such as the gathering and sharing of large video files post-match.

“Staff now have much greater flexibility and freedom in how they work. Our managing director, for example, was able to close a business deal from abroad while securely accessing the network. Something like that just wouldn’t have been possible without the proper tech.”

Clearly great opportunities are available to workplaces that openly welcome new technology. Too much is at risk to take a gamble. A third of employees believe their business will fail within five years if no investments are made in new technology.

Culture drives everything and being receptive to new technologies and working practices can make or break a business. Investing in this culture builds the agility and adaptability needed for long term digital success.

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