“Generation Y is all about social. At the job interviews, they don’t ask for company car anymore. They want a bicycle, a tablet, and a Facebook-style collaboration tool. We can offer them bicycles and tablets, but how can I offer them Facebook?” This is the fear which each manager knows. This is not knowing where to start when challenged with providing a modern workplace.
On one side, changing the ways and means of communication and collaboration is required by a rapidly growing number of their employees (and highly educated employment candidates!). On another side – challenges, and risk and governance issues, are righteously stated by their IT and risk departments. “I want to tell my colleagues that I’m going to the cafeteria for a coffee!”. In the eyes of Generation Y employees, it is a requirement, a prerequisite, if you want. This is the way of communication and collaboration they are used to, from their private lives. For management, it is a pressure to keep up with competition, and not to lose the edge. For risk department, there are issues on exposing sensitive data through unknown channels. “Hey, but you are not allowed to tell anybody that you are in the cafeteria because of the rule XYZ!”. Worker council will stress the privacy issues. And IT department just sees yet another tool they need to manage.
So, is modern workplace actually only a hype, such as “enterprise social” or other similar hypes were in the past, a burden that companies need to endure in order to attract the younger population, and, if we trust to the promises, to survive on the market? No, that is not the case. But to get there, we need to go back to its essence, to define the purpose, use cases, and measurable ROI (as much as it can be measured), before offering it to the employees.
As we have seen in the characteristics of the modern workplace, published in the first article of this blog series, tailored information is one of the key cornerstones of the whole concept. Our employees do not want to have a corporate newspaper – or the whole static intranet, for that matter – they want the information which is relevant for them. That relevance can be determined based on the multiple factors, which mostly vary from company to company, but in the most of the cases they can be boiled down to four major factors:
Relevant corporate news
There will be always news which are relevant for all the employees of the corporation, regardless how large it is. Corporate news, important events, big deals won, such the things. Every corporation needs those, but you need to keep them on a manageable level. If these news overflood employees’ inboxes, the whole platform will become less dynamic (since this kind of news is static by definition), less interesting and – less desirable.
Hierarchical unit (teams, department)
Each employee is always part of some team or department. Regardless if it is a permanent team, or a temporary team, information needs to circulate. Any modern workplace platform nowadays must enable corporations to create information exchange methods between the team members, but also, to manage them, to govern them, and to enable proper lifecycle for this kind of the content. This is especially important for the dynamic teams with the limited lifespan.
Each medium or large corporation knows this problem: there are people with the common interests, but they are working in different teams. Maybe even in different cities and countries. Very often they don’t even know of each other, and they have never met. A classical example are developers with one special interest, scattered all-over the world in different departments of a global software company. Any modern workplace platform needs to take this into account, and to enable these people to meet each other, communicate and collaborate. This is how new ideas are born and creativity is fostered.
This here is the “I want to tell my people that I’m going to grab a coffee” part of the modern workplace. Even if it might sound the least important of all these use cases, it is actually not. In each and every group of people, in every company, friendships are born, and people start to communicate and to interact regardless of their belonging to a team, department or profession. You will want to support these relationships: they are strengthening that feeling of togetherness and company spirit, and generally contribute a lot to the loyalty of the employees.
Now, the real challenge for any modern workplace platform is combining all those news and information in a meaningful way, as well as managing information for people which belong in the multiple of these groups in the same time. Obviously, the key here is maintaining clean hierarchical employee directory, proper information tagging and cataloguing, and last but not least, information lifecycle.