The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed how people work. The adoption and use of unified communications tools, for example, skyrocketed to support remote workers. But, as workflows have changed, organizations must alter their approach to supporting end-user adoption of new tools.
At the start of the pandemic, organizations rolled out whatever tools they felt necessary to support remote work. As a result, employees learned how to use the tools on the fly as the traditional methods of user adoption training -- such as classroom-style trainings in the office -- were no longer possible.
Now, as organizations have become more strategic about their unified communications (UC) investments to support a hybrid workplace, they must also consider employee training to ensure adoption success. There is a direct correlation between preparing end users before deploying a new tool and user productivity post-deployment, COMMfusion LLC President Blair Pleasant said.
Most end users who felt they were well prepared with training before a deployment believed the new tool made them more productive, according to a BCStrategies survey of end users and IT leaders. Of those end users who said they weren't adequately trained, only 17% said they felt more productive.
Pleasant and other industry analysts and leaders spoke at the Enterprise Connect virtual conference. One key topic was the importance of supporting user adoption in a hybrid workplace to ensure UC deployment success and employee productivity, regardless of location.
Hybrid work means new training models
As organizations think about user adoption programs in a hybrid workplace, they have to ensure training is equal for both remote and office-based employees, said Eric Hanson, chief marketing officer at cloud-based communications provider Fuze.
Some user adoption training methods, like classroom-style instruction, will be set aside as employees work remotely. Other training strategies will emerge, like Yammer community forums, to create more of an online discussion, said Alan Shen, CTO at IT management software provider Unify Square.
Video training will also be key, especially to recreate the feeling of in-office training. For more successful video training, organizations should consider virtual events that combine real-time activities with asynchronous, on-demand content, Hanson said.
Blair PleasantPresident, COMMfusion LLC
Training structured with synchronous and asynchronous content can address the different ways people learn and create a more engaging experience, he said. On-demand materials can also be used for reference after a training session.
"Adoption isn't something that happens right after deployment," Hanson said.
However, using video for training can be challenging, despite the overall growth of video across organizations, Pleasant said.
"The problem is end users can do it on their own time, but it doesn't mean they're going to," she said.
Training goes beyond business workflows
Organizations need to remember that UC tools are not just for business workflows and communication.
"When deploying new technology, we just think about the technology," Pleasant said. "We don't think about the organizational changes, the cultural impact and change management."
Rolling out a new application or system is not the main and end goal. The deployment needs to help employees collaborate more effectively, she said.
For example, many employees have used UC tools not just for collaboration workflows, but to maintain company culture and personal connections with their co-workers during the pandemic. User adoption training could include educating employees on how to use a new tool for social communications, like virtual happy hours, to support team cohesion, Shen said.
Employee experience platforms support user adoption
While training is key to boost user adoption, a major roadblock to adoption is the actual experience when using the tools. According to a global Omdia survey on the future of work, the biggest barrier to achieving successful outcomes with digital workplace technology is employee resistance.
"It's not a surprise as employees and line-of-business decision-makers have an idea of what tools they need to be successful, and IT isn't listening to them," Omdia analyst Tim Banting said.
According to the survey, 45% of companies said the IT department determines the need for workplace tools and makes the final recommendation. Only 15% of companies involve other stakeholders in the business when making buying decisions.
The result of not including employees and lines of business in buying decisions is not achieving ROI because employees aren't using the tools, he said.
Employee experience platforms can help highlight where user adoption is faltering and where more training may be necessary.
Addressing the gap between performance and experience
The operational data and application performance metrics that IT sees do not always reflect what employees are experiencing, said Johnny Russ, general manager of employee experience management at Qualtrics, a provider of employee experience tools.
IT may see data about the tools employees are logging in to or the number of help desk tickets filed, but they don't see data around situations where employees are logged in to an app but having frustrating UX.
"We're often missing appropriate understanding of why this is happening," Russ said.
Employee experience platforms, such as Qualtrics and Microsoft Viva, can provide greater insight into how employees are engaging with tools through features such as training effectiveness surveys, pulse surveys and AI-driven analytics. Without these metrics, IT could have a hard time addressing UX.
Or, as Pleasant put it, "You can't fix what you don't measure."