As lockdowns are gradually lifted across the world, a key challenge in terms of workplace safety and optimum productivity is coming to the fore for management and human resources. Companies need to deliver an effective and successful ‘re-entry strategy’ for their businesses as well as their employees using the right tools and resources.
Physical spaces and workplace dynamics are being re-thought, re-shaped, and re-designed to accommodate changing talent and business aspirations as well as the change in location of work. Although the workplace had already begun to transform before COVID-19, the pandemic has accelerated the process that would otherwise have taken years to complete.
As businesses begin to recover across industries, there is greater awareness of the need to become more agile in the workplace. Corporates are becoming more flexible and accommodating to the needs of the workforce in the new normal with many companies continuing to prioritise business continuity.
We had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Malcolm Koh, Director of CX Practice, Global Customer Engagement, Zendesk, a customer service software company with support and sales products designed to improve customer relationships. As their “Customer in Residence”, Malcolm has deep expertise in both operational and strategic elements of customer service delivery with over 20 years of experience spanning 8 industries.
For over a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many businesses and industries. Some are more severe than others. Some were able to expand their businesses, while others had to make strategic, even drastic, cuts. One common factor though, was that almost everyone needed to retreat to their homes because of the lockdowns and remote work recommendations all over the world.
Even though this was a significant change in the daily lives of the majority of the workforce, for some, it made little difference because they were already working remotely. As a result of the global pandemic, businesses have been forced to make drastic changes to the workplace, causing complete disruption to the employee experience.
Malcolm acknowledges that employee experience has changed over the past 18 months just as how customer experience has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, indeed, these continue to evolve and rise. He believes that “employees are customers too” and that the key to a great experience lies in flexibility and collaboration – even more so now as companies have moved to hybrid models of operation.
Digital transformation is about using technology to change the way work is done, how employees interact, and how the workplace is structured, not just using new or more technology. Malcolm notes that as governments explore the use of apps and user interface design to improve citizens’ access to public services, the same should be done within their agencies to help employees easily access knowledge, tools, and support as they go about their work.
Without a doubt, Malcolm emphasised that having an employee-first mindset would greatly benefit any organisation. This means listening, asking for and responding to their feedback.
Organisations are solidifying their hybrid and remote work arrangements as they ease into new post-pandemic ways of working. It is therefore critical for government agencies to ensure that employees have access to tools, information, and people they need to stay connected and be productive.
Malcolm firmly believes that the future of employee experience will be hybrid. Improving uptime has real benefit and perception to employees is also possible with SaaS and cloud-based solutions and ones with a large marketplace like Zendesk. He shares that implementing these digital solutions would be efficient, given that almost everything was already online before the pandemic began, and that digital platforms are now the most important tool in hybrid working.
Ensuring that employee experience is a priority for businesses, just as customer experience is. An organisation’s approach and attitude to both these experiences will define the type of employer they are, impacting employee loyalty, motivation, and overall employee and customer satisfaction.