@sharonodea sharonodea on Twitter
Sharon will deliver this talk in partnership with Hanna Karppi
Sharon O’Dea is an award-winning digital strategist with a track record advising complex organisations on communication, collaboration and digital workplace technologies.
Organisations Sharon has collaborated with include Credit Suisse, Allen & Overy, Standard Chartered Bank, Shell, Barnardo’s, the Houses of Parliament, UK Research and Innovation and the Department for International Trade.
A prolific tweeter and occasional blogger, speaker and podcaster, Sharon speaks and writes on the role of digital in a changing world of work. She is co-author of two books, an advisor to the UK government and was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices.
Irked by the lack of diversity at tech and digital events, Sharon co-founded event series 300 Seconds to give women and other underrepresented groups in digital a way to gain confidence and experience, and to find their voice.
A Human-Centred Future Of Work
Work is becoming more complex, a trend that only looks set to continue in the years ahead. Technology is supposed to help people to get work done, but often it has the opposite effect of adding to that complexity. To make work better and ensure tools support that more complex future we need to design and configure that technology for humans - messy humans with complex working lives.
In this talk, digital strategist Sharon O'Dea and Head of Digital Worklife Strategy at Nexer Group Hanna Karppi share ideas on preparing for the future of work by making it more human-centred. Sharon and Hanna cover the need for insight into employees' needs, the importance of digital employee experience and how digital can help rather than hinder the employees of the future.
Hello, thank you for taking the time in the difficult post-lunch slot to join us. Right now, we are going to be talking today the next 40 minutes or so on the future of work and how it's complicated and how technology can help, and it should help, but it can only do that if we design it and if we configure it with humans in mind.
So, let's get started. We are Sharon and Hanna and we are two humans on the stage. I work as Head of Digital Worklife Strategy in Stockholm for Nexer Group. My team helps companies with their digital workplaces from implementation strategy, change management and all the different aspects. I’ve worked about 15 years with internal communications, digital workplaces and change management, and on private time I like cooking, travelling, good wine, even bad wine if it's good company, and I’m also known as the Queen of Funland by my friends and colleagues. The name refers to Finland my original home country and the fact that I end up in quite ridiculously funny situations all the time. Just need to tell briefly because Hilary wanted me to add this, that one of these occasions was when an Icelandic newspaper randomly stole my photo from our company website with a couple of other colleagues, and used it in an article about pleasing yourself at work. So if anyone wants to see that picture later and have a chat, I have it on my phone. It's a very interesting article that you can also Google translate and read, but that's about me and this is my friend Sharon. Thank you.
So I'm Sharon O'Dea. I don't work for Nexer, I'm a digital strategist specialising in digital workplace. I help organisations understand their user needs, select the right kind of tools and configure them, find the right kind of governance and so on to make success of those. In my spare time I also like travel, wine, weightlifting, spin. I regularly have really bad ideas that normally go no further than buying a terrible domain name. So Hanna and I met me maybe five years ago now. I had a conference in Denmark, there was karaoke. Thankfully no record remains of this evening aside from a domain name that I bought, collaboraoki.com which was kind of a collaboration karaoke concept that we never really fully bottomed out, so if you've got any ideas do send them our way. So as I said, we both love to travel but due to the whole pandemic thing this staycation trend has gone too far and we decided we were going to watch a lot of really bad TV instead. That will become clear over the course of the presentation and we apologise in advance. so we want to know a bit more about you. Who here, I hope I can see you all, has like a job a regular job where you get a pay check from your employer once a month or whatever? Okay most of you. Is anyone self-employed? Good few of you out there. Who here works five days a week? I can't see so I’m going to move forward a little bit. Most of you but not everyone. Okay, anyone who works five days a week in an office or a physical workplace? Like basically no one. I see someone out there. So who has maybe some other kind of work pattern, that works part-time maybe four days a week less than that? There's a few people out there who have a different approach to how they work. Anyone who's been with their current employer more than five years?
More than 10 years? Ah a few of you out there, cool. And final question for you all then. Who uses technology of some sort at work?
Pretty much everyone. Right okay. So for a long time work was always thought of as a place that we went to, where we did things usually five days a week. But the idea that that's the case for all of us just hasn't been true for a long time and you can see that looking around the room for a lot of us. We're already living that lived reality of a more complex world of work so let's look at that more complex world. There's two that you're already familiar with, and we will have heard a lot of that in the media lately about time and place. That's two ways in which work is becoming much more complex. We're trying to take a different attitude towards both of those things so there's a lot on the slide, but our animations broke so bear with us.
So let's start with place. Most of us work for organisations that at least are across maybe a couple of sites for a lot of us that might be across a few different countries as well, maybe different cultures and so on. And we're not just talking about offices and home and maybe people who do a little bit of each, but remember that 80% of workers globally are in frontline roles so they're working in schools, in hospitals, and oil rigs, in retail, working with your customers face-to-face so it's actually already much more complicated than a simple home office split when we start to think about hybrid. Also time can be complicated. We of course work in different time zones, but now when many of us work at home we can also choose which day and which time of the day we work and also the line between free time and work is becoming more and more blurry. And then of course the demographics, so the workforce is more diverse than it's ever been in the past. It's also better educated on average and its ageing so we've already got three generations in the workforce, we will soon have four as Gen z start to join us. Also the employment status. Not everyone works 10 years for the same employer.
We might have short time part-time jobs, several employers at the same time, if we do freelancing some of the work might be done by a third-party provider as well. And kind of aligned to that is a different approach to careers. So as we cycle in and out of jobs maybe through a different kind of nature of employment, we're less defined by maybe loyalty as a more transactional relationship that we might have with our employer. And that means that we've got new demands to onboard more people as they join and leave and also to capture knowledge so that people who come later are able to access it. As well as that, as this pace of change is picking up there is a need for people to keep up with that change so they need to access learning and training throughout their careers, or throughout their working life. And of course technology is evolving and adds to the complexity.
The news about robots taking over our work might be a bit exaggerated still but AI and for example automisation are more and more common also in our workplaces, and some things computers do better than us humans. So we can also talk about hybrid of human and non-human work. So work today is messy and the future of work is likely to be a lot messier than that. Work is being disconnected from time from place, from organisations, from balance sheets and to a large degree also potentially in the future, from human labour. So we're looking at different ways of working and different relationships between people and organisations, and I think that's quite exciting as work and society changes we've got an opportunity to rethink fundamentally what work is, how we get it done, how we balance that with our real lives and how we can potentially make that more sustainable for our communities and even for our planet. So for that to work, to deliver on the promise maybe we have for the future of work, it has to work for all kinds of workers so office and home workers, frontline workers full or part-time, that diverse workforce, that aging workforce, that multi-generational workforce that might not have a traditional employment relationship with your organisation and particularly one that works with or is augmented by technology.
Since we're going to talk about digital workplace it's maybe worth telling you what we mean by it. It's all the digital tools that we use every day to get our work done. The productivity tools that we use but also the tools that we use to communicate with our partners, with our colleagues, with our customers. For many of us it's now our main workplace and it has also freed us from the physical workplace. We can now work from any place, any time and also sometimes with any device. And at the same time when it's our main workplace, for many, it's also the main employee experience of the company. During the pandemic many have recruited people who they have never physically met.
The whole induction has been done digitally and the kind of culture and the values have to be also transferred virtually and digitally, so digital workplace is becoming much more than it was just a few years ago. And Sharon and I, we have worked with this topic around 15 years and what we still see is that unfortunately many of the implementation projects and the governance and the management of digital workplace is still very technology oriented when it should be about people using the tools and making sure that they have great tools today and also in the future.
So technology has become increasingly ubiquitous in our personal lives, and in our work lives. We're given things to help us be productive, engaged, to measure what we're doing, to connect us with one another and generally just to get things done. And it's supposed to help, but if we're honest a lot of the time it has the opposite effect. We've got a productivity crisis, particularly here in the UK. We're working longer, we're working harder, we're not necessarily getting more done. Technology hasn't for a lot of us really delivered on that promise of fundamentally rethinking work and a lot of the time it makes matters worse.
So maybe we need to think about why that is the case. Part of it is that there's simply too much of it. There's a frustrating fragmented mix of tools that you need to use that work to get things done. They often don't play nicely together, they're not well integrated. People have to use multiple tools to get very simple things done and all of these have different designs, different interfaces. You have to constantly switch between them. Each of those shifts has a what they call a cognitive cost. A little frisson of frustration and all of these things add up over the course of the day, to something that makes you frustrated, annoyed, unproductive. We also know and I suspect many of you would concur, with the things we use at work just not being that easy to use. So software's got cheaper, easier, moved into the cloud.
Every department is now an IT buyer, but those teams don't necessarily understand, think about, prioritise or really know much about user experience. In fact the office of budget responsibility when they published last year's budget found that what the poor use of an implementation of workplace technology was a significant drag on UK productivity. Another problem that we have is that the tools that we're given at work aren't designed for the reality of how many of us work today. Thinking about the little hands up we did at the beginning, so just as another little test. Who here is in two different instances of teams? Anyone in three?
Four? See you over there John. Five? I'm currently in five I think. Now our tools are designed for people who have one job at a time for a long period of time, for an extended period say. For an increasing number of us looking around just don't work in that way. We are a third-party provider, we work in contracts, we freelance and our tools just haven't caught up with that reality. It forces us to also juggle multiple identities, to wear multiple hats.
And all of this is really problematic now as we face this big shift in how we work because digital isn't just something we use at work but as Hanna was talking about then, it is where we work. When we work remotely or out with customers whatever it might be, we're absolutely reliant on these tools to get things done, so when they don't work we're kind of stuffed. So to deliver on the promise of making work better we really need to put humans back up in the centre of our thinking when we select or implement or design tools that we use at work. And here they are in the centre. You also need a strategy. Unfortunately, this is often missing when I meet companies.
Organisations should know where they're coming from, what is the situation now, they should know their employees and their needs. They should have a clear vision of what do they want to achieve with their digital workplace, even the main workplace that they have. They should have goals, they should have measurable goals that they can actually follow up later. Then they, of course, need technology and this was the part that we said that mostly gets the most attention.
Of course technology is amazing and there are a lot of different tools out there and things that you can develop yourself, but usually the technical rollout is actually quite straightforward. It's important to have good technology but not to concentrate only on that part and then the people in the centre who are using the tools, if they don't then your investment is basically for nothing.
So to put humans back at the centre of our thinking about the future of work, it's imperative that we understand those humans better. So we need to have a clear idea of what humans want, what they need. Not just as one amorphous mass, but thinking about the work they do the context they work in, and maybe the other things like their different approaches, beliefs, experiences, the skills that they might have.
We need to identify the barriers people experience in getting things done. They could be physical ones but more likely they'll be invisible ones like time. Or things like conflicting policy is often a problem. It's only when we really understand what problems we're really solving that we can design solutions that work for everyone. So during the first lockdown for want of anything better to do, I became engrossed in BBC police drama Line of Duty. Now for those of you who aren't familiar with the show, it follows the antics of AC-12 which is an anti-corruption unit within the police force, whose job it is to sniff out corrupt officers and bring them to justice. So anyway, here in the middle we have Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott, who is the sort of diminutive cockney detective genius who has this amazing ability to maintain exactly the same facial expression for the entirety of its six series. Now he's joined on the right by his colleague Detective Constable I think yes, Kate Fleming. Now as I was watching an episode in, I think it was series two, Kate and Steve outlined the three criteria that a suspect must fulfil to be convicted of a crime by a jury. So the first they need to have the means, that is to say the ability to commit the crime, they have the tools necessary for example. The opportunity. So that is to say did they have adequate chances to commit the crime? Were they for example, available on that day? And finally motive. So did they have a good reason and motivation to commit the crime? And then it occurred to me of course that this is a model that I use when I’m trying to understand employee needs. So when i work with organisations I use surveys, interviews observation and so on to understand the real barriers that people experience in getting things done, and how their workplace technology is or more often isn't helping. Now what I find when I work with organisations is that one, two and often three of this categorical trinity are indeed missing, so people might have the means.
That is the ability to access your tools but they don't have the opportunity to do so because they don't have any time in their working day. Let's look at an example. So an organisation that me and John over there worked with recently, they'd issued tablets to their road-based staff. They were an organisation that worked on roads in order for them to be able to be connected to key systems to their digital workplace but to save money they only issued one per vehicle which forced everyone to log in and out which is obviously a pain in the ass so they need to choose like a complex multi-factor process but also worse than that no one had considered that of course it's illegal to use a tablet while in charge of a vehicle.
Which is problematic when you work in vehicles. More problematic still you could technically take it out of the vehicle but it doesn't work in the rain, and they are based in the UK where it rains so generally speaking this was a sub-par kind of setup. People had to therefore wait until they got back to base, park up in the car park and log on but then of course we come across the problem of motive. That by the time someones got to the car park there are other things that are competing for their time and and they ultimately didn't feel that there was anything worth logging on for, that it was worth them making the effort. Motivation is absolutely critical. People only log on to or use your systems if they feel there's something in it for them. Now as people who work with digital workplace tools, it's essential that we understand the real context motivations, means and so on that people work in, so that we can design tools that work for how people work.
And remember here we're talking about people's needs recognising they're not fundamentally first users of services. They are people with pre-existing needs. So I guess my key message there is that we need to be a bit more like Steve Arnott and AC-12 and really spend some time doing that detective work and understanding people's means, motives and opportunities. A few more words about frontline workers that was a great example how things can go wrong, even if you have good intentions. This group is extremely close to my heart. I worked in a company for 10 years where most of our people were working in the front line and taking care of the core business of the company. If we still all suffer from the fact that digital workplaces are not designed to humans this group is absolutely the most neglected group when it comes to digital workplace. Either they have no tools at all or then the tools are not as great as the office workers have or the content either. I have heard all kinds of excuses why companies and organisations have not given the devices or licenses to their employees and their frontline workers, and one of the most common ones is that they don't have the interest of internal communications, they don't have the time to do that when they're working. They're not sitting by the computer. Sometimes I’ve even heard that they don't have the skills, which I think is very hurtful and underestimating your employees. I think the main reason is money. That you have to buy devices and licenses and also the fact that you really need to pay attention to this group and find out what could help them in their everyday work life. But think about the massive potential that this group has when they have the access to knowledge sharing and collaboration with each other. And also they need more and more the culture also digitally now when we have a digital workplace as our main workplace. So I hope this will change and I think that there's been a shift during the pandemic when companies have realised that they have to reach these people who have been keeping the society running while we have been working at home. They need to have accurate information to them in real-time and also make sure that they have opportunity to talk to each other so hopefully change is coming.
So like we were talking about how technology is supposed to help with all of this, but a lot of the time it doesn't and in fact often it has the opposite effect to that. And that's a problem that is perhaps getting worse because every single department is now an IT buyer. So we used to complain that IT teams would buy stuff that only IT people understood, but now every team buys stuff that only their team really understands. Each team buys those platforms in around their own specific use case, they don't have UX experience and they don't really necessarily consider it a priority. But more problematic is that each of these tools is therefore thought of in isolation but an end user will experience them together as a collection of tools that are used to get things done, and they present a real kind of mess of user experience of overlapping functionality of you know different designs and so on. And the whole experience of using it you know day-to-day is messy, confusing, overwhelming. So it's important that we step back and think about the experience overall, the bigger picture. So to put the human back at the centre of this we need to think about all of the digital touchpoints that any one employee might experience.
So in Homeland, Carrie collects all of her evidence, and she pops it all on this big investigation wall. A common trope in the crime drama that you may have seen. And the idea of this is because it gives you a clear picture on how it all fits together and how the different parts of the picture are joined and we need to do the same inside our own organisations. Get that end-to-end view of the complete picture of technology that makes up your digital workplace, what does it all do, what user need is being met by each tool, each platform each service? What does it all look like, and does that reflect your brand, your values, your vibe? Does it meet a common set of standards for usability, accessibility? Does it even meet basic legal stance for such things, and what's the experience of using it all like overall? You know, you may need to test it with employees to find out. Do people know where they need to go for? What there might be a lack of clarity about, the different mix of tools?
And it's only when you've done this that you can understand where the gaps in the picture are. Thinking back to that point you made earlier about really understanding user needs in depth, we need to identify where the barriers are and understand if what you are offering really helps to people to overcome those. A little tip for me is to try and get one person, one team or board responsible for that complete picture, rather than having people just looking at specific picture parts of that puzzle. And then think about how might this work for the workforce as it might be in the future, so you know people who have potentially a different, more transactional relationship with your organisation rather than being a standard employee.
So real life example. We meet a lot of clients who have very vague idea about their current digital workplace. A lot of surprises. I don't know if I could name all the tools I'm using every day to be honest. What we normally do is the discovery work that Sharon was talking about. We talk to the users, we ask their pain points and their wishes and if they're missing some tools. What would they like to achieve with the digital workplace tools. Then we have a sit down with a selected group of people usually IT, HR, communications people from the line and in that sitting, we try to draw a map of the current digital landscape which normally is a big surprise for everyone in the room. First of all there's a lot of shadow IT normally.
People have bought some licenses for some random tools they are using maybe Facebook or WhatsApp for work stuff. There's a lot of licenses for similar tools, so there is a lot of extra cost that could be easily cut. There might be four different document management tools and maybe even used by 16 different ways when everyone has developed their own way to use them. It's very messy and of course all of this leads to a lot of issues with for example GDPR or governance, and like Sharon mentioned, no one knows when to use what and why.
So after this kind of messy picture we then try to draw the future picture where we streamline everything, we think about what we could replace with what, and how can we get rid of the extra costs if there's some new tools that we should invent. And this of course will lead to a much more stress-free digital workplace when everyone knows what they're supposed to do and which tool works for what. So as you can see from that mapping exercise, this stuff is complicated and we've all got messy and complicated working lives so that's a trend that looks set to continue. We've got you know, working across different places in time and all of that, and we have a lot of technology. So I tried to find a stat on this. One suggested that the average back-office employee has access to 90 different applications and cycle through on average 35 in a single shift. And that means that we get a lot of notifications. Most of us have got colleagues who say they get hundreds of emails a day.
Once you add in a social tool like teams you're looking at loads more. I just wonder if anyone wants to volunteer how many notifications have you had since in the 20 minutes that we've been talking. Anyone, no? So the average person apparently gets 90 notifications a day. I get a lot more than 90 I’m afraid, and that problem grows in that complex world of work that we're looking at in the future. If you work part-time you're going to get just as many notifications but you've got fewer days to read them on. And then if you work for multiple organisations all of this starts to grow exponentially and it's all just too much for many of us. When we talk to workers what we find is that they don't know where to go, what to use, whether even really if they understand what they're missing. They don't know what half of it does and this adds to that growing problem of burnout, of the blurring of private and work time, and sadly none of this is going to get any less complicated anytime soon. So we need to help people to find their way around to manage the complexity of their work life and the ecosystem of tools they use every day. For example also, if they have that looser relationship with an organisation in the future, we can't expect people to learn how complicated things should be used. Anyone know what this is?
Thank you all of you people who know, like me showing your age. This is Kit from the TV series Knight Rider. What I like about this is it brings together all of the tools an employee might use in a day into a single interface, a coherent interface with a unified design and a unified user experience.
Now clearly the digital workplace team at Night Industries, they took the time to really understand the context that their employees will be working in here, the tools that they might need every day and their context they're working in. And then they came up with this. Now as I understand it this is not a single tool, but it does bring all of the tools they need into a single interface. And through that they can access communication, collaboration with colleagues, line of business applications like, in this case, chemical analysers and microwave jammers. It can tap into a knowledge base that's hidden behind the scenes there. I also understand it can activate flamethrowers. You might also have some custom applications but as I understand, this is not standard in Microsoft 365. Not yet. Might be coming. If there's anyone from Microsoft here, put on the roadmap.
So what we can learn from here is the need to fully understand the context that an employer is working in. As we talked about before, those means, motives, opportunities. We know for example that Michael Knight here is working in a moving vehicle, he's moving at quite a speed a lot of the time and because he doesn't want to fall foul of the highway code, he needs to be able to access all of this using a voice-activated interface, unlike our guys with the tablet earlier. We also know that Michael Knight has low digital confidence because he lives in 1982. So it serves content to him using kind of a natural language interface that might be more familiar to someone who doesn't have that experience with technology. We know as I said it's not a single system, but it brings together those best-in-class tools under the hood and presents them in a unified, in a consistent way. The end user doesn't need to know or learn what they use for what, they just are able to access it through one familiar route. So what we have here, if you bear with me, is a context-specific human-centred approach that prioritises the key tools that the employee needs based on a detailed understanding of those needs and presented in a consistent way that is appropriate for their employee’s contexts, skills and experiences.
What I also like about this is how it masks the complexity of all of those applications into a single design. Now while your organisation may not have the resources to produce something like this, we have the added advantages that we live in 2022. So we are we've got a number of tools at our disposal. Thank you, I want to do like a Chris Whitty next slide please. Anyway, right here in 2022 we've got a bunch of tools at our disposal that do make it easier to do something more along those lines.
To streamline the user experience, to present things to people in a consistent and coherent way. So firstly we need to prioritise. We define the stuff that people need want and value, and give it to them. That could be simply by adding a link but even better if you give people some agency and allow them to bookmark the things that are important to them so that they can confidently find them. You could use things like bots to simplify that, to streamline using multiple applications at the same time so people don't have to touch the underlying application like Oracle that everyone hates. Better still you can integrate some of these using APIs or whatever, so the digital workplace brings together all of these tools as a series of micro-services, but within one interface. Now as the world of work gets more complex again, thinking of that picture that we presented at the beginning, people are going to need to more intuitively use their tools at work if they're to get value from them. So by understanding what people want, what people need, what they value and making it simpler and easy to use, we enable people to navigate that complex world of work that we're facing in the future. A little kind of corollary to that. Already a growing proportion of labour is done by non-humans. You know it's not, as Hanna said it's not robots taking our jobs but it is computers taking on those tasks that they are better at than us, so repetitive work, patterns-spotting using AI and automation and so on. So we can get on with the things that we'd rather be doing, the more human side of work. But all of that means in the future we are going to need to enable people to work more confidently with that non-human labour, to work more confidently with computers. And that in turn somewhat ironically means that we need to make it more designed for real humans and their real needs and experiences and skills.
We also need higher standards. Technology is evolving, but so are we. As technology users we use multiple different tools at work but also in private lives. I would claim that it's easier for most of us to do your banking on your private banking app than approve an invoice internally at the workplace. The tools are not catching up the same pace at digital workplace as they do in the outside world. We do most of our things online, we do dating, we order food, we pay our bills, we do social networking, and I don't think any of us have spent two hours training how to use Facebook or WhatsApp or read a manual about TikTok but we still do this when it comes to our digital workplace tools at the office.
This is from Doctor Who, so another tv show reference. Here many companies say that customers are in the heart of their business and they invest a lot of money in external websites, online stores, different apps for their customers. They might look really fancy and then this is what their employees get. Outdated systems, complex digital workplace, no idea what to use when. Not very fancy stuff. Ironically at the same time, many companies say that their biggest asset is their employees and they say like we couldn't manage this without you and you're so fantastic but hey, here's a tool for you, we gave all the money to our customer experience. Hopefully companies would understand that they really need to catch up with the technology when it comes to internal communications and employee experience as well, because that would have a direct impact also on sales and also on the customer experience.
Okay little example. An organisation that again John and I went with a few years ago. They had an award-winning website, really public digital ambitions, they won loads of awards for how great their apps were and then they gave their staff this to work on. This it ran on an 18 year old content management system, so the people who were tasked with delivering that message about their digital promise and their brand ambition weren't experiencing that themselves. They were given something that was the complete opposite of that.
So they recognised that their internal customers are every single bit as important as those on the outside, and they need needed deserved best-in-class tools too. So we worked with them to deliver something that was much more aligned to that brand promise, their digital standards so that it's not a copy of their website, but it felt like it was as good quality and that their experience was important and valued. So as Hanna said, so many organisations say “our people are our biggest asset”, but they don't invest in giving people tools that make them productive, or make them feel good. And we know of course, as Hanna’s saying, that there is that indisputable link between good employee experience and great customer experience.
Last but not least, let's talk a little bit about change management. Here we have a last TV reference, Lost. I actually have to admit I’ve never watched this one, but I guess many of you have, and I understand that in this story a bunch of people get into a plane accident and then they find themselves on a deserted island. And they have to navigate through new environment and they really don't know what to do they feel a bit lost, and this is how we can also feel at our digital workplace.
Often we have a lot of tools that we need to navigate through new systems but we don't really know what we're supposed to do. This is a real-life quote from a project I ran six years ago implementing a global intranet to 30 000 people. We had news in the new intranet that we have now a new intranet, and there was a nice video and so on, and this comment was the first comment that came after two minutes. “What was wrong with the old one, this is even worse.” And I don't think this person had actually the time to discover the whole UX of the new intranet or the content, but this was the immediate reaction. And I think it's funny and it's kind of sad at the same time, but I think that this describes very well how we normally feel about change. I work with change and it's not easy for me either. Sometimes the old things old ways of doing things feel very comfortable and safe. So what can we do that this would change into embracing change instead of this? I would say that the most important thing is to have change management all along the project and the implementation, and even after that.
It starts with the discovery work that Sharon was talking about. Involving users, asking them what they need, getting buy-in already at that point. It's also important that we don't let the projects or the digital workplace only in the hands of IT departments. IT departments are amazing but they are usually not the change management professionals so we should involve all the important stakeholders in the organisation, and of course also management and so on. There was a study a few years ago that 70% of all the IT projects fail because of lack of change management, and I don't know what the number is today but I doubt that it's much better. Even if we managed to implement a lot of new tools during the pandemic, how well it was done? We will see in the near future, but I think that still we often miss kind of the, what's in it for me and the long-term thinking how the change is sustainable. So I would say the motive, we should not forget that one either, the motive that Sharon was talking about. Why should I change? And there I would say as a little tip that you should never underestimate the power of fun. If you can make things a bit fun people are more willing to change. So anyways, change management goes all the way from project starts, also after the project, and it's not just done by during the launch.
Some companies think that okay we do a little training and a nice communications campaign and now the thing is launched and that was our change management. It's not that, it's a long process. So just to summarise the last few minutes we've got. Thank you for bearing with us. We've attempted to sort of reintegrate with talking to real people in real life again because people are absolutely at the centre of what we do as digital professionals. We're not designing services for abstract concepts, we're designing them for real people, to help them to achieve things, to make an impact in their home life, in their work life. But we can only do that if we put people back at the centre of our thinking and our planning and our understanding, so to do that we really need to begin with understanding people's needs in detail. So be like AC-12 in Line of Duty and really dig deep into understanding people's needs, their means, their motive, their opportunity. It's only when we do that that we can design things that really make an impact. We also need to bear in mind that this isn't just about where people are today, but where the workforce will be in three years and five years. We know that this stuff often takes a while to deliver and hangs around for a good few years, so we need to really think about the workforce of the future too, and you know, skate to where the puck is, I guess.
We need to think about the overall experience. Go by this tool-by-tool thinking to a more holistic view when it comes to digital workplace. We need to help people to navigate this increasingly complex picture of their work life and the tools that they encounter in that work life. Work is getting more complicated, it will continue to get more complicated in the future as a result of these trends in society, and technology. We need to help people to navigate that complexity, that's coming down the road in terms of the world of work.
We need to have higher standards. Our expectations are growing all the time, and so should the standards of the digital workplace. The robot that looked cool in the first season of Doctor Who doesn't look cool anymore. It's outdated. And change is happening faster than ever. There's a lot of change going on. Yes, some of that was accelerated by the pandemic. All of those other trends have been coming down the road for many years and will continue to do so. The changing relationship between people and their work, and people and organisations, people and their technology but also demographics. That different approach to careers, those different working relationships that we have, and of course the rapid advances in technology that we are experiencing. That's a lot of change, so as Hanna talked about, we need to support people through that change so it happens with them and by them rather than to them. And all of this, if we get it right has the potential to radically remake what work is and make it better for people, for planet, for communities, for organisations. But we can only do that, we can only deliver on the promise of better work if we design it by and for messy humans with messy working lives and terrible taste in television.