WorkplaceEX Day 2 Recap:
Virtual Workspace Experience Summit

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Day 2 of WorkplaceEX covered a gamut of anywhere workforce topics, opportunities and challenges — including the reason futurist, keynote speaker and host Scott Klososky wears collarless jackets (hint: he’s not a big fan of ties, which can’t be worn without a collar).

Among the slightly more important topics covered were how to build a distributed corporate culture, leveraging the cloud to power workplace technology to support an anywhere workforce, the importance of maintaining equality between on-site and remote workers, building a healthy corporate culture based on shared experiences, and technologies that will be crucial to supporting hybrid workforces.

Let’s dig in.

He’s Playing Our Song

The day started with a visit from singer/songwriter Jonathan Mann, who has written a new song each day since 2009 (a Guinness World Record). Jonathan explained his prodigious and prolific process, then created an original riff using words and phrases supplied on chat. He then promised to return at the end of the day with an original song for WorkforceEX based on the content presented during the 2 day event.

Fireside Chat with Korbyt CEO, Ankur Ahlowalia

Scott Klososky sat down with Korbyt CEO Ankur Ahlowalia for a wide-ranging, insightful and inspiring conversation on everything from the importance of new technologies for the hybrid workplace to the bold opportunities that abound in the U.S.

 
Ankur described his action-packed time of moving his family from California to Texas in the middle of a pandemic for the opportunity to join Korbyt. It’s a move he’s still excited about. He lamented about video only going so far, and how he misses handshakes, travel, and not being able to meet people face-to-face (including many Korbyt employees). In the mode of anywhere workforce, Ankur believes every employee deserves a personalized communication experience. He shared his vision for delivering a simplified, personal communication experience to every employee, wherever they are — and how those communications need to be tracked and measured to better tailor communications to each worker.

The two discussed the need to regularly take a pulse of workers to gauge the possibilities of burnout and depression, which have become more prevalent issues in these turbulent times. They believe that leadership needs to take a more proactive approach in addressing these issues, and removing stigmas and providing support options, especially as the world moves forward with hybrid workplaces. As a person who spent half his life in India, Ankur fervently believes that the U.S. will always be the land of opportunity. “Americans are bold, brave and take risks. There are no roadblocks and anything is possible. All the doors are open.”

“Now that employees are remote, you have to do something about employee experience. We feel our platform can enhance, simplify and personalize experiences.”

Ankur Ahlowalia

Leveraging the Cloud to Power the Hybrid Workplace

As the Director of IT at Diversified, Adam Bowser opened his presentation with a quote that epitomizes the anywhere workplace:

“Today’s workplace is no longer somewhere you go, but something you do.”
The Telegraph, 2020


He then discussed how COVID forced companies to rapidly scale for large, remote workforces, and that many of these seismic work environment shifts will remain throughout COVID recovery and beyond. All of which makes cloud solutions vital to so many organizations. Adam delved into the decision-making needed to create, adopt and maintain a safe, strategic cloud strategy that includes business transformation, technology skill
set migration and strong security practices.

Business transformation 

  • Most cloud solutions are based on proven business models
  • Undertake the processes to not only innovate and adopt new technology, but to also adopt improved business workflows

Technology skillset migration

  • IT roles traditionally focused on infrastructure and design
  • Companies must augment IT personnel and adopt new skill sets

Security

  • Secure what you do versus where you are. For example, a preponderance of attacks come from email.
  • Data governance. Make sure your policies include strong security.
  • Robust authentication/least privilege. Give each user access to only what they’re authorized to view.
  • Dedicated cyber security/risk role. For companies with budget issues, this could be a partner or contracted solution.

What’s the next big thing (hopefully) in cloud technology? Portability between clouds, with an open framework between clouds. The company who can provide that will be in the driver’s seat for a long time to come.

Interactive Panel: Architecting the Safe Return to the Office Space

Moderated by Jeff DeHaan, Senior Solutions Architect at AVI SPL, the group discussed the risks of attempting to bring people back to the office if it’s not done strategically and safely. What has been proven during the pandemic is that workers are working productively at home, so many will need strong enticements to return to the office. Reminding them of the values of comfortable, personalized office environments, in-person interactions and informal conversations will entice some workers to return. Providing the option to remain at home is also important. And as the world evolves to a hybrid workplace, it’s crucial to maintain equality among on-site and remote workers

From Insights to Action—Using Data and Segmentation to Connect with Your Workforce


Devin Cygnar, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Northwest Bank discussed the crucial need for better employee data, segmentation and targeting to improve workforce communications. In fact, employees spend 650 hours per year sending and reading email. He explained that low-value communications drain productivity and engagement, and that over-saturation contributes to stress, thereby risking employee wellness.

Devin explained that with the right data and insight, we can deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right audience. He then detailed both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Quantitative/Capture Data Insight   Potential Insights  
Channel engagement – open and click through rates   Which messages are connecting with employees and why  
Intranet engagement – average daily visitors, top pages visited, time on page Ideal channel for certain message types  
Employee opinions – surveys, quick polls   What employees want to hear and don’t want to hear  
Employee engagement measurement   How connected employees feel  

Qualitative/Needs-Based   Potential Insights  
Focus groups   Topics employees want to learn about  
Team meetings Issues that must be addressed  
Leverage existing resources (e.g. employee resource groups)   Messaging segmentation opportunities  
One-on-one meetings or interviews    

Devin explained that not all messages are created equal. He provided key points on determining the importance of a message:

  • Who’s going to find value?
  • Who must be aware?
  • How will the info be accessed?
  • Can the info be grouped with other content?
  • What are consequences of this message being missed?

“Stop random acts of communication. Think strategically how your message intersects with audience.”

Devin Cygnar

Shaping Our Collective Reality—How Experiences Influence Culture

Christopher Westcott, Head of People Experience at the Federal Reserve Bank of Nexplained that employees’ collective experiences shape the corporate culture. He discussed emotional, cognitive, physical experiences, and explored the foundations of those experiences for each individual.

Beliefs

  • Accepted or considered to be true
  • Arise from learned experiences

Values

  • The relative importance of our beliefs and actions
  • Values imply that certain outcomes are preferred over others
  • Espoused values are what we say but not always what we do

Behaviors

  • The way we conduct ourselves
  • How we respond to a particular situation

Artifacts

  • Visible symbols of culture
  • Places, platforms and policies
  • Our daily interactions and the environments we create

Breakout ThinkSprint: Aligning Pre-Pandemic Business Issues with Workplace Technology

Everyone broke into groups to delve into the technologies that will carry us into the anywhere workplace and be a mainstay in business. The groups then came together to share their ideas.

Among them was health scanning for workplaces that goes beyond thermal scanning to possibly include many other health detectors. Also discussed was maintaining and equipping a remote IT group dedicated to supporting remote workers, as well as maintaining a vigilant security strategy to protect companies with anywhere workforces.

The group highlighted the need for multiple channels to reach employees effectively, wherever they are. And establishing a feedback system to ensure that the right communications get to the right people at the right time.

Also to be considered are privacy issues as employees provide what could be perceived as personal information and then move on to other positions. Who governs the information collected on employees? What everyone agreed on is that companies must partner with employees to build trust.

Many voiced the need for more effective mobile communications for anywhere workforces, since people are relying more and more on their phones to stay connected. Just as important is ensuring that employees disconnect as needed to prevent burnout from overworking.

AI will continue to play a larger role in communications platforms, as hybrid workplaces become the norm. It will enable companies to better tailor and segment communications to all employees. And while there are multiple technologies and processes available, many expressed the need for a single platform that integrates these disparate technologies to simplify and streamline technology processes.

The World Premier of Our Own Song.

As promised, Jonathan Mann returned with an original song crafted with the thoughts and words of our two-day conference. It’s sure to go to the top of the pop charts.

Closing remarks

Event host Scott Klososky provided parting wisdom about the adoption of hybrid workplaces:

“The rest of this year will be an experiment, so we better be innovative, patient and kind.”

Thank you for attending!

It was two days of information, inspiration and insight. Two days of meeting new people and exploring new ideas. Two days of recharging our batteries and looking forward to a brighter, flexible and connected future.

Thank you for making these a wonderful two days.

If you would like to review any or all of this inspiring and actionable information from this year’s WorkplaceEX to drive a workplace transformation creating experiences everyone loves, click here.