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Author: Venkateswaran Sundareswaran |10/21/16

Using personas to build the workplace of the future

Broadly speaking, today’s workforce share a common set of needs: the means to connect with a distributed network of colleagues and partners; engagement with their jobs through consistent and personalized social experiences; productivity tools that allow them to do their jobs from anywhere, anytime, using any device; a sense of health and safety; and opportunities for learning that help them take part in the company’s innovation while enabling personal career growth.

But the specifics of these needs often depend on the employee’s role in an organization. To truly meet the needs of the workplace of the future, companies must understand the unique composition of personas in their workforce—then create and prioritize initiatives accordingly.

Identify needs before building tools

Let’s look at a few sample personas and examine how a company might tailor initiatives to them. Jim is a “road warrior” insurance consultant. He spends most of his time out in the field, based out of a Chicago office, but he has periodic meetings with his New York–based manager. For these meetings, he needs to travel to the New York office, find a desk, book a meeting room and navigate this unfamiliar work space. Essentially, Jim needs to feel included while visiting New York, and he wants a simplified experience that helps him be productive.

John is the senior sales manager in Jim’s office. He’s also a road warrior, but as a manager he needs to keep up with his team—approving requests for travel and training, staying up to date on company policy, providing feedback and generally being available to his team. John needs access to information and people to stay productive while on the move.

Susan is a business analyst who just joined John’s team. She is a new hire who mostly works from her desk. She’s not yet accustomed to her colleagues, and the company systems are completely different from her previous job. She’s also not well versed in company travel policy and recently learned that she has to attend new hire training at company headquarters. Susan needs a simplified, personalized experience and access to information that will ease her transition and help her feel more included and engaged with the organization.

Meet needs with efficiency and personalization

Now let’s consider some sample initiatives that can meet the needs of personas like Jim, John and Susan.

Smart app for team members in the field

Jim can’t imagine life without the company’s global staff app. Signing in with his enterprise email and password lets him see a list of global offices. He chooses New York and gets access to:

  • A QR code for access to the elevator (no need to sign in with security) and the main office door on his floor
  • A desk-booking tab that shows availability and hardware requirements for desks, enables desk reservations and lets him share his location
  • A conference room–booking tab with an option to send invitations and alerts
  • A navigation tool that uses maps and voice navigation to direct him to his desk, meeting rooms, restrooms and office printers
  • A food and drinks tab showing all office cafeterias and vending machines, as well as local eateries

HR collaboration app for managers

John appreciates that the HR collaboration app is smart watch–friendly, so he can use it on the road to keep up with his team by:

  • Reviewing requests (for travel, training, vacation) and granting approvals
  • Sending instant messages to team members
  • Looking up company policy on the various requests he receives
  • Providing feedback to HR on the policies that affect his team
  • Receiving notice that his feedback resulted in policy change

Intelligent agent (chatbot) for desk workers

Susan was skeptical when she heard that a chatbot would be her first best friend on the job, but she quickly learned that it helped ease the transition because:

  • The chat tool lives in Skype, the standard messaging platform in the organization, which she has used before.
  • When she got locked out of her account, the chatbot sent a verification code to her mobile phone. This allowed her to answer some basic security questions and reset her password.
  • She queried eligibility for local travel. Because the app knew her role and level, she got a personalized response about how to apply for travel and advice for her destination.

Remember this: The journey to building the workplace of tomorrow starts with persona-driven modeling so you can understand diverse employee needs. Each company is unique, so every solution should be unique as well.

Only when a company understands the touchpoints used by its employees can it implement suitable interventions for maximum impact on engagement, productivity and ROI.

Did you miss the first article in this series? Check it out here. Our next installment will discuss the key building blocks for the workplace of the future.


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