The Evolution of the Modern Workplace: Forget the technology, start with your business and employee needs

When people hear the terms ‘modern workplace’ or ‘digital transformation’ they automatically think about technology. But the evolution of the modern workplace is about so much more.

The truth is, unless they work in IT, your employees don’t really care about technology. Their professional focus is on performing well in their role, maybe getting that promotion or bonus, or completing the training they need to climb the corporate ladder.

On a personal level, they’re thinking about getting their lunch break back or leaving work on time. Or perhaps they’re looking forward to catching up with friends or watching Netflix, relaxed in the knowledge their work to-do list is under control.

At the Modern Workplace Alliance we’ve seen first-hand the benefits for companies leading with their employees’ professional and personal goals, rather than technology. To us – and our customers – technology is just the enabler.

The right approach evolving the modern workplace

Bringing in great new technology is one thing.

Getting people to engage with it is another.

Consider the many great tools we now have that enable people to effectively work from home – Skype for Business conferencing or the Teams collaboration tool.

But if a team is led by a manager who wants their staff in the office from 9 till 5, that technology investment is wasted. It is the same with powerful tools such as SharePoint, if the office culture is still one of emailing attachments.

With any new technology introduction, it is critical to eliminate those cultural blockers first. Focusing on business goals and working with staff to introduce change – rather than imposing it on them – always leads to better outcomes.

Here are four pointers to help guide the evolution of your modern workplace:

  1. Deal with ‘change fatigue’
    ‘Change fatigue’ is a familiar concept. The world is constantly changing, and nothing is evolving quicker than technology. Today it’s all about the cloud, but who knows what the next big tech thing will be and how it will disrupt our current working practices?In the workplace though, much of the fatigue around technology stems from the fact that those who implement it do it for technology’s sake. They don’t think about how it can be used to help people achieve personal and professional goals.

    While leaders – and especially IT leaders – might be excited about what’s new in the latest Microsoft Office update, most users won’t give it a second thought. They just want to do their job well and go home on time. Business leaders need to illustrate how technology can help them to do just that in order to get their employees’ support and buy-in.

  2. Focus on business goals
    If you’re introducing new technology, or upgrading what you have, keep your focus on what you’re trying to achieve. Your business goal is not to upgrade Exchange or introduce new desktops. Think about key areas of business improvement – and find out how technology can assist you with that.For example, a mining organisation might want to improve safety for employees, and technology that facilitates fatigue management will be ideal for that. Or a council might use Business Intelligence to see how it can better serve its customers, and help councillors be re-elected.
  3. Take small steps
    Recognise the fact that everyone is different, and people handle change in different ways and at a different pace. You can’t match everybody’s individual pace when introducing change, but what you can do is work with each team in an individual and focused way.For example, a national retailer wanted to sell more furniture and improve employee engagement. They introduced Yammer to enable floor staff to engage with the CEO and buyers. This resulted in increased morale (employees could see their ideas and requests, e.g. for better labelling, being actioned) as well as supply chain visibility, which made for a more emotive product story.
  4. Grow with the business
    Business needs and conditions are always changing, so be prepared to evolve with that. Don’t set a structured plan in place for three years. Instead, execute that plan in short sprints, and take a more agile approach.
    For example, you might introduce new technology in a specific geographical location and learn from that before repeating it elsewhere.

How do you facilitate the evolution of your modern workplace?

The answer is: don’t focus on the technology. Focus on what your business is trying to achieve. What challenges does it face? What opportunities are out there? What technology would enable your business to meet those challenges and grasp those opportunities?

The Modern Workplace Alliance can help you keep on track with technology, and place the focus on achieving your business goals. We work out a regular ‘check-in’ schedule to discuss your evolving needs and how technology can help.


If you’re ready to define what the evolution of the modern workplace looks like for you, get in touch with us today.

Alternatively take our 10-minute modern workplace assessment – the personalised report will help you determine where your organisation is at in your modern workplace transformation journey and the logical next steps.

The evolution of the modern workplace


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