Human-centered design and hybrid work should be “a normal strategy”

A Gartner analyst argues for empowering variety, not plurality, as a key new IT mission, during a session at IT Symposium / Xpo Monday.

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Digital workers have become even more tech savvy during the pandemic, with 35% feeling empowered enough to call themselves experts, according to a Gartner analyst who spoke in a session at the Gartner IT Symposium / Xpo on Monday. .

“Digital workers have seized the opportunity to be heroes during the pandemic,” said Whit Andrews, vice president and distinguished analyst, who presented the results of the 2021 Gartner “What Workers Want” survey with more than 7,000 digital workers on how and where they work. , what technologies they use and what they want to use.

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The digital worker survey is conducted every two years, and the latest finding is a big increase from 2019, Andrews said. “This change was unprecedented,” he said, adding that the company had “never seen such a large proportion of workers increase. [their] sense of mastery. “

Thinking in terms of human-centered design

Andrews explained how to “keep the momentum going” in the future and think about a human-centered design. It’s about refactoring and re-imagining digital systems and the human systems around them for humans to be as successful as possible, he said. This is the key to increasing productivity.

“It’s about teaching computers… to understand humans better,” Andrews said. They provide flexibility and in terms of devices that employees use and where. The Gartner survey found an 18% increase in the proportion of time spent working on portable and mobile devices to get work done, compared to 2019. “People are really grasping the alternatives that you’ve seen happening around. [how] people can do their job. “

This suggests that there are now things people can do on their cell phones that they couldn’t do before.

In 2019, the same Gartner survey found that 81% of workers preferred one of the top three ways to solve digital problems: asking a coworker, searching the internet, or calling help desk. “This meant that in 2019, four out of five people chose one of these three things to solve the digital problems we face,” Andrews said.

In 2021, the change has been significant, with just 44% preferring one of these three main ways, and Andrews said: “Honestly we’ve never seen anything like this… what’s amazing is that workers are expanding their preferences to a degree we have never seen before. “

The difference in 2021 is the growth in the use of self-service mechanisms like FAQs to solve digital challenges.

What this shows is “the decline of majority optimization” and “the optimization of plurality” and “the shift to optimization of variety.” to contact the IT department.

Organizations need to assume that data is located everywhere, which means they need to start “this optimization for variety, not plurality”. The devices people use are “extremely diverse,” he said.

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Rethinking the workplace to attract and retain talent

The pandemic has illustrated that people want to be anywhere when they collaborate. Andrews also explained how they want this collaboration to take shape. “The truth is, the virtual has emerged as a winner here,” but not as a winner takes it all, he said. People lack in-person experiences, he added.

He advised organizations to rethink the workplace and evolve the role of offices and resize real estate portfolios to support hybrid work.

In 2019, workers spent 8.1 hours per week in meetings. Andrews said it was amazing to see that in 2020 meeting fatigue is real, but if meeting fatigue is real, in 2021 the figure was virtually the same – 8.3 hours were spent in meetings . It came from more than 10,000 people in several countries, he said.

“They love virtual meetings and find them much more efficient than before,” Andrews said. “So think virtual first or even think zero first. Hack your approach to meeting… do it differently.”

For people who are fed up with meetings, he advocated offering variety and suggested that they record a short video and send it. Organizations that do so will have better access to talents and skills, which are now available everywhere, Andrews said.

This means that your competition for access to the talents and skills you need are now available to anyone, anywhere in the world, he noted. “So you are going to invest in this autonomy and you are going to optimize the variety” to have access to people anywhere.

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Another important finding is that workers want flexibility with the software they use, he said. Forty percent of workers collaborate with others using technology they’ve sourced and approved by the organization in 2021, he said. That figure is up 10% from 2019, he said.

From a hardware perspective, 55% of digital workers use personal devices for at least part of their work. This is especially true for young workers and workers in mid-sized organizations, Andrews said.

Offer flexible working hours

The 2021 survey also found that two in three workers agreed that they would only consider a new job or a new position that offered them flexible hours. While that won’t be the only factor they’ll take into account, it will be easier to attract workers with flexible hours, Andrews said.

In addition, 18% of workers would work part of the time between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. if given a choice, he said. People who work remotely were also twice as likely to say their productivity had improved.

“A lot more people will be spending a lot more time working from home,” Andrews said. While this is not the case for everyone and many teams have found remote working disruptive, “we need to go beyond a universal workplace to make hybrid a normal strategy,” a- he said. “Your policy, remote working strategy is no longer based on the idea that remote working is a privilege that you can take away.”

Giving more autonomy to workers was another big theme of Andrews’ session. Teams demand variety and autonomy and they expect to work from anywhere, he said. “So organizations need to go beyond the default settings that make them easier. “

Among Andrews’ recommendations:

  • Inventory the applications allowed but not provided, and expand this list according to what is not allowed but used.
  • Make hybrid work the norm, updating policies to free it from privileges and punishments.
  • Meet with HRDs to rebalance compensation and recognize that compensation is not just a matter of money but of time, place, status and an opportunity to seize and exercise autonomy.
  • Measure the results of specific tasks and provide frequent checks between manager and employees.
  • Perform digital employee monitoring according to the law, culture and with the intention to improve instead of tagging someone.
  • Reverse the tyranny that one size fits all is the future of work.

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