Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Achieving a strong digital culture without trust? Zero chance

August 10, 2016

The key to a company achieving digital excellence is through its culture – that was the key finding of our recent study of 3,000 UK workers. But culture is not something you can shape overnight, and it’s certainly no box-ticking exercise.

So how do you achieve a digital culture that will help you thrive in this wonderfully fast-moving world we’re all working in?

To me, it’s all about digital autonomy – giving people choice and variety when it comes to the technology they use at work, and, most importantly, trusting them to pick up and learn the tools that will help them be most productive.

Do you bring your own device?

Here’s a crazy thought: instead of dictating to people what devices they can and can’t use at work, why not let them make that choice themselves?

This is not a particularly ‘out there’ concept. By definition of the fact they live and work in the year 2016, your employees are likely to be extremely savvy with the technology they use at home. All you’re doing is allowing them to bring those skills to the office.

Very early on at Cisco we realised that if people are using a Mac at home and then they come to work and have to use a PC, that user experience is widely different.

What we want to do is close the gap between home and office technology, so that employees feel as comfortable sitting in the office as they do on the sofa in their sitting room.

The benefit of doing so? 60% of those we surveyed say using digital technologies makes them more productive, while 58% believe it could have a positive impact on their organisation’s productivity as a whole.

Trust is key

I can’t say this enough: you have zero chance of building a successful company culture without a very healthy level of trust.

When it comes to achieving a strong digital culture, that trust comes from allowing people to be autonomous in the way they deliver their work.

We like to measure performance based on output rather than the number of hours put in. How they achieve that output, and where, should be their choice. If people can see you have that level of trust in them their engagement and productivity levels are likely to go up.

And even if you’re worried about where your employees are or what they’re doing, there is so much technology around today that can help connect people to the office and their colleagues even when they’re working remotely and whatever device they’re using.

Whether it’s a collaboration platform like Spark, or conferencing technology like WebEx or something more akin to face-to-face interaction over tele-presence, these applications work on any device, wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection.

Being physically separate from people no longer means you can’t work closely together.

And finally, champion the cause…

It’s all well and good having trust in your employees when it comes to digital technology, but if you want that to permeate into the wider company culture you need to shout about it.

Less than one-quarter (24%) of employees we surveyed said they were happy with their company’s digital vision, while 29% they their leadership team is struggling to push through new digital ways of working.

How can we change this? Here are five steps I propose:

  1. Empower staff to experiment with different technologies and let them suggest how they would prefer to work
  2. Create pilot groups for BETA testing new technology. Use this as a way of ironing out any issues for both user experience and IT management
  3. Create technology champions, advocates to show the benefits of different ways of working
  4. Give people choice when it comes to training. Some people work better with classroom led sessions, others may choose to self-serve, while on-demand training such as videos and guides should be available to everyone
  5. Create an online community such as a forum, where people can share best practice and troubleshoot issues

If we can all do all of the above, I’m sure those percentages will improve.

Here’s to a digitally autonomous future!

Download the full report for lots more insight around digital culture in the workplace.

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