In response to the challenges of quickly transforming into a dynamic workforce, many organizations have implemented at least one new technology solution over the last six months. From communication and collaboration tools to seamless, secure access to critical business applications, new technology solutions have been deployed to empower dynamic worker productivity from the office, at home, or on the road.
However, simply implementing new technology solutions is not enough to make dynamic workers adopt them. They don’t deliver results unless workers use them effectively as part of their daily work routine. The effects of poor user adoption are amplified for a dynamic workforce adjusting to new policies, tools, and work environments, especially when the new solutions are critical for keeping your dynamic workers protected and connected.
While successful user adoption leads to faster and more substantial returns on your technology investments, poor user adoption creates several other concerns. Without sufficient communication and training, dynamic workers quickly become frustrated with new solutions and start implementing workarounds to stay productive. Without easy access to apps and data, dynamic workers are more likely to take security shortcuts and share or store sensitive information in unsanctioned environments. Poor adoption of approved applications also accelerates the growth of shadow IT that limits an organization’s visibility into the apps and services being downloaded by remote workers and creates security gaps. Frustration with new technology also leads to higher employee turnover rates.
Successful user adoption relies on skillfully dealing with the human side of change management. There can be additional layers of complexity managing workers who are feeling the added pressure of suddenly working from home for the first time. Collectively shifting the minds of a far-flung group of individuals presents unique challenges, particularly if you are used to managing change from an office environment. While video meetings can provide virtual face-to-face interaction, convincing dynamic workers to embrace change can get more complicated without close personal contact.
User Adoption Strategies for a Dynamic Workforce
I discussed a number of strategies for dealing with the challenges of a dynamic workforce with Hailey Hyde, Cerium Networks Client Engagement Manager.
Strong engagement by executive leadership is crucial for achieving broad user adoption. Dynamic workers should understand the high-level vision for new solutions and how they will align with core business values. Executives and managers should set an example by being early adopters of new technologies and, when possible, using the new solution in their virtual interactions with their dynamic workers. Executive sponsors should be engaged from the initial phases of a technology rollout until the new solution is fully adopted.
According to Hailey, “No solution is perfect, however focusing on the positives can encourage users to be more open to learning and utilizing all the features as opposed to having a closed mindset that is not cohesive to learning.”
Throughout the rollout, communication should focus on the value the new tools bring and how it supports positive business outcomes. Communication should be timely, transparent, and enable workers to provide feedback. Adoption messaging and the feedback loop should incorporate as many different channels as possible to engage dynamic workers on their channel of choice.
“Communication planning gives organizations a chance to control the narrative and help shape end-users sentiments around the transition. It is critical to communicate with those end-users what is in it for them,” Hailey said.
Learning from co-workers is one of the most effective methods for understanding the intricacies of new technology solutions. Influencers should be recruited to generate awareness of new solutions, evangelize the features they offer, and explain how they facilitate workflows. They should be well versed in the technology and act as ad-hoc experts that coworkers can turn to for help. Without the ability to drop by a coworker’s cubical to ask a quick question, the lines of communication among dynamic workers can be more complicated. Technology champions provide a sounding board coworkers can turn to with questions they may be too embarrassed or intimidated to ask in a public forum. Champions can help reduce the strain on implementation team resources and provide valuable insight into what is and isn’t working.
“Perhaps the most important element of a champion program is the excitement and open-minded attitude the champions can spread organically throughout the organization. One of the biggest threats to a successful deployment and adoption of the technology is negative sentiment spreading throughout the organization. We want to control this narrative by strategically placing trusted champions throughout the different departments of an organization who can spread a positive message.“ Hailey observed.
Training for dynamic workers should not take a one-size-fits-all approach. Dynamic workers digest information in different ways, at different paces, across different channels. While traditional classroom training may still be an option, dynamic workers may be more comfortable with webinars, virtual classes, and videos on demand (VOD) to fit their schedule 24×7. Virtual classrooms should deliver interactive training customized to be relevant to the user’s specific job functions.
Implementation and Support
Include users in acceptance testing and ensure their feedback is used to customize and configure the solution. Encouraging dynamic workers to test new solutions using real-life scenarios from their remote environments can uncover hidden issues that wouldn’t be found through other types of testing. Ensure dynamic workers have 24×7 real-time support to answer questions and reduce frustration. Support should be available through multiple channels to connect with dynamic workers who are on the road or have lost their internet connectivity.
User adoption doesn’t end when the solution is implemented. Continuous improvement requires tracking usage and collecting worker feedback on how the solution makes them more productive and areas where they are experiencing issues. Once your dynamic workforce has an opportunity to interact with the new solution for a few weeks, schedule follow-up training to address problems that have arisen and answer questions about features users are struggling to understand. It is beneficial to have ongoing training available for dynamic workers leveraging advanced solution features, and offering meaningful training and support is essential for onboarding new dynamic workers.
“Weekly lunch and learns in the first few months after deployment have proven to be extremely beneficial for successful user adoption at Cerium and many of our clients,” Hailey mentioned.
Adoption Services for a Dynamic Workforce
Engaging users, overcoming their resistance to change, and driving adoption that achieves desired business results takes the right mix of motivation, communication, and training. If you need help with user adoption for your dynamic workforce, Cerium Adoption Services ensure a smoother transition and a quicker return on your technology investments. Cerium professionals will partner with your organization to design, develop, and deliver custom user adoption and training programs. With two decades of consulting expertise deploying and supporting technology solutions, Cerium can help you align your adoption strategies with your business objectives.