Danny Vosman Solution Architect
1 October 2021

Instead of 'gadgets', employees want a digital environment that just works

With the coronavirus crisis and increased working from home, more and more organisations are looking at digital transformation. Often, this also means switching to a digital working environment. Technology enthusiasts like to see such environments making use of all the technical possibilities we can think of. However, make sure you know in advance what people really think is important; otherwise you could get it very wrong. 

A major pitfall of digitisation is that digital experts offer tons of options and put users in a position where they have to make choices. The Workplace survey that Solvinity has recently carried out, shows that users do not necessarily want all sorts of gadgets. I think the reason for this is that end users prefer to think as little as possible about the technology they have to use for their work. The reality is simple: technology shouldn’t overly burden users with choices – it should just work!

However, it turns out that this is what end-users find least important of all

"On the contrary, end users and administrators would much rather choose self-service, which enables them to find a solution to their problem themselves, than being 'helped' by a robot."

Not everything that is technically possible is always a good idea

For instance, the survey has certainly revealed more functionalities that are technically perfectly feasible and that, at first glance, even seem very useful, but which, in practice, end-users have a more nuanced opinion of.  

In recent years, we have increasingly seen chatbots and AI being used to help people with technical problems. In itself, the idea isn’t strange, with good support always high on the wish lists of all end users. Administrators often have their hands full, so if you could automate this aspect, it could be a great solution.  

However, it seems that hardly anyone wants artificial help. On the contrary, end users and administrators would much rather choose self-service, which enables them to find a solution to their problem themselves, than being ‘helped’ by a robot. If in that case they really can’t figure it out, they would always prefer a real contact situation.

Another example is remote printing: in many working environments, this is touted as an indispensable function. However, most end users in our survey give it a very low priority. This is probably because remote printing isn’t very convenient at all; after all, what’s the point of printing out a physical document if you can’t access it? What end users are likely to find much more interesting is ‘remote printing’, where you can choose the nearest printer to print your document at all times. This is a subtle difference – but an important one. 

What’s also interesting is how end users view the integration of social media in a digital working environment. In our survey, end users say they find it very unimportant. On the face of it, this is strange, because social media are extremely popular and extremely practical for those working from home so that they can quickly get in touch with each other. However, most people are already used to operating these social media through separate interfaces. So, this probably explains why they don’t immediately see the added value of integration in a work environment. 

"In our survey, nearly 20% of end users say they spend 1-6 hours or more per week on malfunctioning IT systems."

Security: important as long as it doesn't cause any inconvenience

Conversely, certain insights come as a pleasant surprise. Single Sign-On (only having to log in once to the work environment to access all applications) has proven remarkably popular in our survey. People who already have this put it high on their list of functionalities they are most satisfied with, and people who don’t have it yet would like to add it first.  

I think this is a very positive development. People do see the importance of security, but don’t want it to get in their way. Long passwords or two-factor authentication don’t have to be a problem – as long as people only have to do it once a day, and not at regular intervals, and for every programme. 

Another message that IT should take on board is that slow programs and work environments cause great annoyance. In our survey, nearly 20% of end users say they spend 1-6 hours or more per week on malfunctioning IT systems. Fortunately, a cloud-based digital working environment gives administrators more options to solve these problems. However, I would definitely recommend addressing this first before providing your users with all kinds of functionalities they haven’t asked for.  

The point is this: when you start setting up a digital working environment, you have a lot of options – but make sure you properly consult the people who will be using it beforehand. After all, understanding what people really find important and miss in their current environment can be a real eye-opener. It can also prevent you from investing much energy in functionality that sounds good on paper, but in practice isn’t in tune with what employees really want.

Workspace Survey 2021

Are you interested in what end users and administrators have to say about their working environment?

Read about it in the Solvinity Workplace Survey 2021 report.

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