Tips_for_Effective_Change_Management
Introduction

Tips for Effective Change Management with Workplace IoT


Workplace IoT has developed into a considerable force and from a technological perspective, it seems poised and ready to enter workplaces everywhere. Cloud storage and sensor costs have decreased rapidly over the past few decades which allows for cost efficient solutions which provide valuable insights and offer a high ROI. Several factors, however, are still presenting obstacles to companies as they look to implement these solutions, chief of which is employee concern.

Although sensor based solutions such as Adappt’s are designed to maximize anonymity and security, public perception of sensors tends to be negative given the popular stories surrounding them. Back in August 2017, Inc. reported on a story which they titled, “Barclays Installs Creepy Sensors to See Where All the Bankers Are”. In January 2016, the Independent published an article tiled, “OccupEye sensors: A sinister exercise in Big Brother-style management or a 21st-century way to monitor workers’ needs?” Given this negative framing of these technologies by the media, it’s no wonder they get a bad rep.

The key to implementing these technologies in workplaces without disrupting the ordinary flow or upsetting employees is the implementation of a concerted change management effort which would largely consist of a clear communication strategy.

Laframboise identifies the four stages of change appropriation for employees to be: discovery, denial, resistance, and acceptance. He identifies these with regards to relocation projects but I believe that they are equally applicable here. Denial and resistance are inevitable. In order to minimize those stages, controlling the discovery stage is crucial. Formal memos with clear information, town hall style meetings, and FAQs on bulletin boards can be effective tools to communicate information to employees prior to installation.

Also crucial is understanding what employee concerns are and what must be answered. From our experience in executing projects with enterprise clients, the three most important questions about sensors which employees need to answer are What? Why? & Who?

What information are these devices collecting?

Space utilization and environmental data. Devices are unable to distinguish between individuals or collect any personal data.

Why are they here?

So that your workplace is designed around your needs- people centric design/ management.

Who has access to the data which they are collecting?

Your company’s CRE executives and Adappt’s data scientists. Your managers are not given access to the data which is being collected.

Furthermore, by empowering change agents within the organization, and showing visible support from management, resistance and denial can be minimized.

The Workplace of the Future is upon us and these technologies which we are looking to use are to the benefit of both employers and employees alike. With clear communication and effective change management, we can show employees the benefits and bring them on board!

Communication Strategy

One key strategy that can be adopted to ensure that all employees engage with the change management programme is a communication strategy. The communication tools and techniques adopted should be appropriate to the stages of the change management programme.  Research undertaken by Laframboise et al. (2003) identified the stages of change appropriate for a relocation project to be: discovery, denial, resistance, and acceptance. Each of these stages will now be discussed with special emphasis placed on the appropriate communication tools as set out below:

Discovery

This is the stage at which an employee finds out about the proposed changes to their working environment. This is an important stage in the change management process and therefore must not be left to chance. How and when employees hear about the change should be planned for in the communication plan. A possible vehicle for communication could be a town hall meeting. This approach gives the senior management an opportunity to explain their vision for the future project.

Denial

It is at this stage of the change process that people continue in a ‘business as usual’ way of working and may ignore the new working environment proposals. A communication tool that could be adopted at this stage is a project room/ wall that includes the new working environment layouts and proposed timescales. This approach keeps reminding employees that a change to their working environment is going to take place. An additional supporting communication tool could be the creation of a project website that gives all the up to date information on the progress of the project.

Resistance

During this stage of the change process employees start to acknowledge that their working environment is going to change. This is where employees may demonstrate, emotions such as anger and resentment. It is essential that employee’s concerns are listened to and addressed appropriately. One of the major fears employees experience is the inability to influence the changes that will have a direct impact on their working lives. Therefore, an appropriate strategy would be to involve employees in the decision making process. Adopting this approach should ensure that the work environment created actually aligns to the work processes undertaken by the employees.

Acceptance

The last stage of the change management process is the acceptance stage. It is at this stage that the employees accept the new working environment. This is an opportune time to celebrate the success of the project. A tool that can evaluate employee satisfaction with the new workplace is the post occupancy evaluation (POE). This is usually undertaken once employees have been in their new working environment for approximately six months. The POE gives the employees an opportunity to feedback their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the new working environment. An extended aftercare and POE service consisting of 1-3 years could be adopted to ensure that employees get the most from their workspace and building (Way et al., 2009)

Change Management

It is important to acknowledge that individuals react to change in different ways. If changes are imposed on the workforce by someone else, such as changes in office layout and office relocations, then more time needs to be given for employees to accept and embrace the change.

Implementing a major change requires preparing the leadership/management team as well as the employees. One of the greatest predictors of a successful new working environment is having the local management team support the concept and engage the employees in the decision making process.  

Clear understanding of objectives

The local management team should have a clear understanding of the output that is to be achieved by changing the working environment. They should all also be provided with the tools that enable them to achieve the desired output, such as communication packages and agreed protocols.

Change agents

It is important in any change management process that ‘ project champions’ are identified. these project champions will be the change agents for the company and therefore it is important that they believe in and are committed to the output of the change management process. They play a pivotal role in convincing others of the benefits of the new work environment, and therefore they need to walk the talk.

Visible support from management

The local management team needs to have high visibility during the change management process. This visibility means they can lead by example by being the first to adopt the new ways of working.

Communication

Keeping people informed and updated on the changes that are being undertaken is an essential part of the change management process. Therefore presentations to employees should be pitched at the appropriate level. To ensure the message is communicated to all the employees, many different ways of communicating should be adopted. These could include internet, videos, email and coffee talks. communication is not a one way process and therefore opportunities for two way communication and feedback need to be integrated into the communication strategy. communication is so important during the change process that the communication and change management team need to be an integral part of the project organization.

Fun

As much as people desire straight forward information, in times of change, it is also important not to be too serious. injecting a bit of fun into the change management process will make the process easier. Some suggestions might include adopting cartoon characters to deliver messages in written or video communications, or creating videos about extreme office behavior.  

Celebrate

Once the new working environment and the change management process are complete than it is important to celebrate your success. Simple events like move-in breakfasts can help to welcome employees and show off achievements.

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