BY Capgemini
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IT trends spotted and checked by experts


What happens

Stéphane Richard, CEO of Orange
In June 2016, Orange announced it wanted to develop a "unique, digital and human" employee experience, equivalent to the one that the telecoms operator offers to its non-business clients.

so what?

Director of Capgemini Consulting

Julien Villeminot is Director of Capgemini Consulting. For eight years he has been offering support to large groups seeking to make major internal changes, particularly when it comes to the new ?...

Though sometimes perceived as a source of stress, or even a control mechanism, digital technology can also "free" employees by making them more independent. Firms have already transformed the "employee experience" of their workers by offering a "phygital" working environment, which blends physical and virtual workspaces together in perfect harmony.

How can digital technology "free" employees?

The move is born out of frustration. When employees enter their work environment they do not find the same tools and services that make their private lives easier. They want more autonomy and mobility. A study carried out by OpinionWay for Capgemini Consulting, in which over a thousand French executives were surveyed, highlights this gap. 
Digital technology is a formidable tool when it comes to creating organisational models that run more smoothly and improve working conditions. We no longer talk about a workstation or a working environment: we talk about the employee experience. 

By giving employees the ability to fulfil themselves, we create value. When an employee is working from home or on another site, he saves commuting time and the company saves square metres. The benefits don't stop there. In a co-working environment, the employee will be working directly in a breeding ground for innovation.

This also acts as a talent magnet and a means of fostering employee loyalty. This is not just a generational issue. The employee's experience at work is now higher up in the pecking order than considerations such as salary and career prospects. The success of ranking tables like "Great Place to Work", as well as websites enabling workers to rate the experience that their employer offers them, bear testimony to this change. Now, workspaces, tools, management and the ability to work in a collaborative environment are all evaluated. 

What role do collaborative tools play in employee "empowerment"?

In recent years we have created an abundance of intranets, enterprise social networks (ESNs) and knowledge management platforms. These tools have actually made working methods ever more complicated. The new generation of collaborative applications - Slack, Trello, Wimi, Quip and the like, all of which complement the services offered by Dropbox, Skype and other Google Apps for Work - are more focused on ease of use and performance. 

With these solutions, which offer the full range of audio and video sharing functions, as well as instant messaging data sharing, co-editing and conception, synchronous and asynchronous collaboration can happen more easily. Communities with no links to one specific organisational hierarchy or physical location are created. Furthermore, and most importantly of all, they open up the possibility to reach other business ecosystems, as any external partner can be associated.

In what ways can resistance to organisational changes emerge?

The manager's position changes. Their authority doesn't stem from the number of employees who report to them directly or how big their office is. They need to play more of a motivational role than a managerial and supervisory one.

This new-found freedom can also frighten some employees. For these workers, a fixed workstation and clearly defined working hours put them in their comfort zone. Additional responsibilities can destabilise them, especially if they do not know how to make the best use of the new tools and working methods that they have been offered. They need active support to deal with these changes.  

Who cares?

  - Any company that wishes to promote employee empowerment, that is to say the freedom and self-fulfilment of its employees. This means supplying them with a certain number of tools, but also changing the way their work is organised.

- Firms that have created a Head of Employee Experience position, such as Orange in France. Originating in Silicon Valley, the role of Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) is also starting to gain traction in Europe. Happiness at work - that is to say reduced friction - is seen as a driver for sustainable performance. British companies such as Bow & Arrow have their own CHO, for example. 

 - Alexander Kjerulf, founder of Woohoo, has created a blog on the topic. Laurence Vanhée, a former top-level executive who herself fell victim to burn-out, has formalised the concept in a best-seller entitled Happy HR (this is her speech at the last Inno Génération conference held by Bpifrance).
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