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[ARTICLE] HR Transformation & The Future of Work: 5 Key Takeaways to Unlock the Productive Potential of Your Digital Workforce

The HR, People, Culture & Workplace edition of the Online Digital Transformation Conference took place on June 23rd and covered a range of key topics & challenges facing digital strategists, workforce planners & HR professionals as they continue thriving to achieve a seamlessly efficient digital workplace capable of supporting productivity and delivering high levels of employee engagement & satisfaction. Expert practitioners from Benelux, Nordics & Europe, joined to provide their insights into the global digital transformation of their workforce operations and internal systems, collaborative software & communications. 

The conference was part of a series of HR Transformation Summits, with two more webinars planned for the end of September. The key takeaways from the event are detailed below but you will also get full access to all presentations OnDemand if you register for either September webinar, which you can do for free here

People, The Most Important Element of an Organization

As part of Lars Boom’s keynote presentation the Country Manager for Benelux & France at Personio, he asked the audience to contribute to a poll seeking to reveal what they believed was the most important part of their organization. 73% of our audience voted for “We are, The people” this was reiterated throughout the day, especially through Lars’ presentation where he stated how Personio believes that people are the single biggest influence on the success of any business. As the number 1 success factor, employees create innovation, products, and services. They then take these products to market and take care of customers to drive value on an ongoing basis. 

The theme of people playing a crucial role in business success was reiterated throughout the day. Carolyn Moore, Global Director of Organizational & Cultural Transformation at Arcadis took us through the wonderful journey they have been on establishing Expedition DNA through their organization which culminated in their rollout of ten-week projects with employees, subject matter experts, sector leaders, and practitioners which enabled their workforce deep learning of technical skills and human-based proficiencies. The ripple effect of these development courses can be seen throughout the globally connected workforce and has increased committed relationships with clients to digitally innovate productivity, efficiency & digital experience. 

“People are the lifeblood of our organizations” 

Lars Boom, Personio 

Empower employees with increased efficiency through coaching & technology

Attention & focus are core tools to being productive, supplementing these ideals & supporting a distraction free environment through technology helps avoid attention fragmentation & micro delays, allowing employees to maximise productivity. However, multiple tools cause interruptions due to overlapping tasks, often the solution is not more tech, sometimes it is less tech to increase efficiency. Creating seamless and streamlined workflows is essential. With the implementation of software, it is key to focus on personal benefits for employees in terms of time saved or other added values; as this will enable smoother adoption of the new solution. 

You should be digitizing work in a human-centric way, focussing on solutions centered around unlocking employees’ full potential. In order to achieve this, you require a solid understanding & empathy for the daily tasks of various roles. As mentioned, the focus should not only be on technology but also ensuring operational efficacy through leadership and coaching. This can be best achieved through internal communications & self development databases available through the digital workplace. 

 An easy way to promote deep work within a distributed workforce is to make recommendations on workspace, creating an office setting is beneficial. Technology enables 24/7 connectivity and permits you to work and be empowered to work when you know you can work with minimal distractions but you should also empower workers to support their own deep work by:

  • Letting employees learn how to have a distraction-free working environment
  • Allow for ‘focus hours’
  • Let employees manage notification settings in an efficient way
  • Design processes to maximize flow

“HR must raise service levels and improve the employee experience using next-generation automation tools and standard processes to drive higher productivity.”

The CEO’s Guide to Competing Through HR, McKinsey 2017

Manage the extremities of remote work whilst maintaining communication & collaboration through technology & company culture

Over the past 16 months global collaboration capabilities have been stress tested to the maximum. For the move to working from home to be successful this had to be a frictionless process supporting asynchronous collaboration. Through the pandemic processes needed to be improved to increase workplace services for seamless communication & group work. 

Within this forced experiment it became clear a higher level of flexibility was needed within our working environment. Opening opportunities to expand the workforce & recruit highly experienced employees to enhance the organisation.This is a significant learning curve for both senior leaders as well as employees. Fundamentally, you need to assess your leadership who can then promote how you would like employees to behave, whether they take risks, share ideas, give feedback on what isn’t working advantageous for their job function & how they envision things could change. Even upskilling leaders & providing the latest expert opinions on how to motivate the workforce, should be delivered by digital means. 

Design thinking functions & idea sharing capabilities can be supported and encouraged through internal software, digital whiteboard & formal/informal video conferencing conversations. 

Katharina Brodt, Head of Germany Communications & Digital Workplace at Umicore noted that they needed to provide support and learning opportunities for all. This meant changing the delivery of this to much smaller nuggets and this was a format employees needed and valued. They realised that digital skills need constant support in multiple languages to ensure fluidity & agility throughout with everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. 

Considerations to champion planning for the future of work

The one big question that seemed to be facing all digital workplace owners who joined the event was the move to a hybrid workplace. Whilst the idea seems almost universally accepted, how this will be strategised and supported by technology & leadership is something that will likely have to be bespoke & personalised to a companies requirements and the needs of their workforce. 

The move to a remote workforce was supported through influencers throughout organisations who promote agile working, listen to feedback & provide insights to leaders on how to evolve & adapt. Strategy & messaging needs to be clearly defined and you need to sell adoption the right way, being very clear about why implementations of technology or processes are taking place and clearly defining the benefits for themselves as individuals in addition to the team and organisation as a whole. 

Employee feedback should be the first source when looking to decide on what your own hybrid approach will look like. Asking what employees valued about remote work & what they value about being in the office is important. It would be beneficial to look at maintaining flexibility & employee empowerment to adapt working hours & practices to suit their individual needs in a way which is inclusive of project work and fair for all. It should also be mentioned that it will be another learning curve and involve testing & iterations to find the best blend for employee satisfaction and business efficiency. 

If you haven’t already done so – Now is the time for Digital Transformation of HR 

The way we do business is changing. We are digital to survive which sets the tone looking at the future of business. This puts a huge emphasis on how we do work & how HR, The Workplace & Workforce will need to evolve. Volvo are in the process of moving from HR to becoming a people experience function with a changed mindset to how we look at innovations & move away from traditional pillars. 

Uncertainty will remain as a certainty, operational excellence is required to enable you a business to pivot to a new environment. Culture has to create a safe space for an element of testing, failing fast & rapid iterations. 

HR should not be the last department to innovate, as a core pillar it should be one of the most important. Firstly you should remove the waterfall philosophy within HR, as this inhibits effectiveness & efficiency. Agile brings together digital & cross functional capabilities within HR and requires empathy of other business roles & functions. 

HR Transformation


Digitize your people processes, allowing them to run smoother & more efficiently. Permitting more time to focus on things that make an impact, like strategic planning which will have an impact on employee satisfaction. 


Once digitized you can focus on the optimization of your processes. For example, you can focus on the improvement of the automated onboarding process or improving employee retention and productivity. 


Digital transformation will provide enhanced reporting & people analytics which in turn enable you to make data-driven decisions that support the satisfaction of your employees and the ambitions of the business. 

Digitization allows not just faster & better processes but permits the generation of value to the company, this is crucial if you want HR to be a strategic partner to your business. 

If you are interested in finding out more details on how you can add process automation to HR with a comprehensive all-in-one HR software solution. Personio was founded to provide a human-centric solution without distractions through an all-in-one HR software that covers all core HR processes including recruitment, onboarding, HR Management, and Payroll. 

You can learn more about Personio through their website – or watch back the conference OnDemand here.

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