A mobile workforce is becoming even more important with the rise of the tech-savvy generation known as ‘Generation Z’. Three experts give their opinions on why employees must offer a flexible and adaptable workforce to appeal to the majority.
Liam Butler, AVP at SumTotal, a Skillsoft company
Gamification is not a new idea, but efforts have often only focused on traditional, office-based workers. Enterprise mobility means work is now something people can do anytime, anywhere. This is changing the face of the enterprise – just look at the increasing popularity of remote working, flexible hours and the gig economy. But distance can result in a lack of engagement, particularly with learning and development platforms. As a result, companies need ways of making all workers feel integrated and engaged – even if they work tens, if not hundreds of miles away.
By harnessing the natural competitive drive of employees and the power of perceived progression and reward, it is possible to increase levels of motivation and engagement in workers.
It’s a win-win situation
When it comes to enterprise gamification, opinion has long been divided between liberal business leaders, driven by motivation and productivity, and those who believe that the traditional disciplined environment is ultimately more productive. But gamification in the enterprise is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – it’s a must.
Businesses in particular have a lot to gain from gamification methodology. It ensures maximum learning efficiency and minimises the effects of potential diversions or distractions, by motivating the user to remain engaged in the content.
Examples of successful gamification projects are being seen across the globe; transforming business operations and changing the way organisations engage and motivate today’s flexible and mobile employees. For HR teams, workplace gamification should be an integral part of performance management and learning strategy.
Gamification in practice
Businesses need look no further than the modern computer game industry – particularly those designed for mobile. The mobile games industry has grown at a phenomenal rate in recent years, breaking more than £1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2017.
Mobile game developers are expertly applying game mechanics and intuitive user interfaces to keep players coming back for more. Opportunities to win rewards, hone skills, progress through difficulty levels, move up leader boards and interact with other players, keep gamers interested, engaged and active over time.
In her 2011 book, Reality is Broken, the American game designer, Jane McGonigal, highlighted four key elements she believes underpin the reward process that motivates an individual gamer:
1. Satisfying work – the opportunity to improve and progress
2. A perspective of success – feedback and rewards
3. Socialising – interacting and connecting with others
4. Significance – recognition through leaderboards
Businesses that can harness these gamification methodologies can amplify individual employee ambitions, enhance team collaboration skills and motivate their workforce to perform and engage with learning that can be immediately applied to the realities of their day-to-day work.
Giving employees the satisfaction of seeing the outcomes of their actions and a chance to succeed and progress is a powerful way to boost employee engagement. It makes it possible to initiate a performance management approach that’s real-time, nimble, individualised and focused on fuelling future performance, rather than assessing the past.
More companies are using gamification to bring remote workers closer to the central hub of the business. Gamification enhances the experience of all workers, not just those based in the office. Creating leaderboards and challenges makes these workers feel like they are part of the community, even if they’re working from another location or country. Often it’s simple factors – introducing virtual goals, progression metres, levelling and experience points – that boost engagement the most. As more companies realise how effective these tools can be at engaging a remote workforce, we will see a bigger focus on enterprise gamification as a whole.
Huib Coopmans, Global Product Marketing Manager, Unified Communications and Collaboration, Verizon
An organisation’s ability to communicate and collaborate effectively remains the key to creating the most productive workplace for today’s workforce. Every organisation has important groups of people it needs to reach, both inside and outside its network. As such, it is vital that businesses develop flexible and mobile working opportunities to increase productivity, accelerate innovation or improve the customer experience. Building and streamlining quality connections between people and the information they need is the key to making this a reality. An added benefit is that remote workers can enable cost savings due to the very nature of the fact that they aren’t based in a traditional office. It allows businesses to cut back on physical office space reducing costs – especially in big cities where rent and other expenses can be high.
To maintain employee connections as the workforce becomes increasingly less tied to a physical place of work, organisations are relying more and more on collaboration technologies such as video conferencing and telepresence. As well as this, one of the biggest developments in how people collaborate is that mobile has become pervasive in both our personal and professional lives. It’s now just as common for employees to communicate through video chat apps like Skype, or access work email from their personal smartphones and tablets as it is for them to do so using a company supplied laptop. The key to ensuring people can collaborate effectively is ensuring they have the freedom to use these tools at work, rather than trying to restrict employees to a set range of workplace-sanctioned options. However, some of these consumer apps aren’t quite as well suited to business environments, or may not be as reliable as is required in a professional situation.
As a result, there has been an increased use of more sophisticated collaboration tools and applications. As such, many organisations are starting to deploy Unified Communications and Collaboration-as-a-Service (UCCaaS), which provides an integrated platform that helps a business’ extended team work more effectively. With UCCaaS, businesses can integrate all their communication tools under one roof, offering employees an easy way to access everything from instant messaging, telepresence, email and social tools. Ultimately, this makes collaboration easier between teams, wherever they’re working and whatever the time of day. In comparison to costly on-premise solutions, UCCaaS makes it easier to rollout UC to mobile and remote workers, enabling employees to access everything from instant messaging, telepresence, email and social tools in one place via the cloud. It also means that, essentially, employers can provide access to UC&C services to users not on the corporate network without needing to set up a virtual private network (VPN).
Euan Davis, European Lead for Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work
With the shift to digital, the rise of data and the growth of platforms, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, virtual work and a ‘no-office’ culture have become more possible than ever. The development of new and emerging technologies makes it easier for workforces to spread across the globe and for those disparate colleagues to be united into a cohesive workforce when necessary.
Furthermore, the digital skills gap has contributed to the remarkable growth of sourcing and subcontracting for digital functions and processes, creating a more flexible, distributed and transient workforce that can adapt quickly.
Our research surveyed corporate decision makers in the US and Europe revealing that an emphasis on collaboration is influencing companies to reconfigure themselves. Sales, marketing, service, product development, production and technology staff are co-locating together and focusing on serving a single customer segment or functional need.
To capitalise on this trend and for these benefits to manifest themselves, the physical workspace and tools empowering employees have actually – perhaps surprisingly – never mattered more. In fact, our research found that business decision makers ranked the strategic importance of investing in an efficient and effective workspace second only to focusing resources on the latest technology. This is because the current era of intercompany collaboration, iteration and start-up experimentation requires people to come together and work. That’s why organisations should reconfigure the workspace, so employees can collaborate both on and offline.
In today’s digitally-focused world, organisations should champion intelligence and imagination by building not only social platforms but also physical spaces for the cross-pollination of ideas, with opportunities to build digital assets or showcase innovation. These spaces need to be considered the new physical or digital water coolers for people to meet, encouraging spontaneous meetings among employees and pulling together disparate teams and processes, supported by tools and new collaborative technologies that help people see and explore the art of the possible. For companies, it is time to get serious about their most important asset — their people — and give them the power they need to work and collaborate successfully in this exciting digital age.
Ultimately, leaders will need to reconfigure their work platforms as the workforce becomes increasingly enhanced with technology. Expect more back-office work to be automated and parsed out to software tools and a more flexible and mobile workforce that can adapt to rapid cycles of business reinvention as and when they happen.