Employees don’t need workplace tools to be fun

Employees Don’t Need Workplace Tools To Be Fun, Just Efficient

Employees Don’t Need Workplace Tools To Be Fun, Just Efficient

Let’s face it, work isn’t cool.

For quite some time, organisations have tried to make work more fun and endearing by incorporating gamification into the work environment. Of course, there are various layers of the concept but at its core, gamification is playing a work-related game to achieve something and get a reward. This approach covers two bases – keep users engaged and get some work done.

The problem, however, is that gamification hasn’t worked to the extent that organizations had hoped to increase employee engagement and motivation.
This is especially true in the information worker and word processing world where gamification simply has not set the industry ablaze. I think at its core, we (the industry) are focusing on the wrong things based on the concept that we believe many people enjoy work.

Perhaps they don’t enjoy work? Perhaps that’s okay? Perhaps the secret to better user adoption is the acknowledgment that information workers don’t have a glamorous job, but would like to work in an efficient manner?

Simplicity – it’s that simple

The secret to better user adoption, engagement, and efficiency is, quite simply, simplicity. Workers want to do their jobs and want the technology at their disposal to enable them to do it efficiently and quickly.

Spending ten minutes to find a button that will enable you to upload documents is not only a massive waste of valuable time but also one of the fastest ways to get employees frustrated, unwilling to fully utilise technologies, and unproductive.

As Microsoft Office is by far the leader when it comes to serving as the core interface for millions of employees daily, it serves as a great example of how technology can aid and hinder productivity.

Outlook is a beast, Excel dominates and Word is relatively easy to use. However, when we branch out the supporting technologies, such as SharePoint; Office 365 and the like, the water gets a bit murkier and leads me to the following conclusions;

1. Users are too forgiving

I find it fascinating that when Facebook changes a feature on its timeline there is basically a worldwide revolt but the fact that Microsoft Word requires 5 steps to save a document to SharePoint just gets ignored. I think the reason for this is that users have alternative means of getting the job done.

When Facebook rolls out an update, you can’t operate the website or app any other way. With Microsoft Word and SharePoint you have a myriad of options to still “word process” without complying with the company policy of saving documents to the records store.

2. Windows Explorer is still king

On many occasions Windows and file explorer trumps SharePoint. Why? Not for its features, security, or anything, but purely for its simplicity.

3. It’s time to go back to basics

I use the Microsoft ecosystem and actually find it easy to use, but the resistance from a growing user community cannot be ignored. Microsoft needs to create multiple layers in its product suite, thereby allowing users to simply interact and enabling more advanced users to delve deeper. Pockets of this have been coming through with the classic vs new document library view, but a serious revamp is needed to the Microsoft Word and Office 365 integration interface to make it easier for people to consume.

Let’s face the facts, creating documents and updating policies is not as cool as sharing photos on Instagram and statuses on Facebook, but there is no reason we shouldn’t strive to make it as easy as possible for every humanoid to use these tools with little or no training.

Simplicity remains key to adoption.

Article featured in New York-based publication CMSWire

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