Is Your Digital Employee Experience (DEX) Falling Behind the Times?

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Daniella Ingrao, Marketing Manager8 min read

Over the last decade, digital transformation topped the priority list for most business leaders. After 2020, it became not just a differentiator, but a necessity. Finding the right digital tools and automating processes were critical factors in remaining competitive and staying in business—not to mention enabling work from anywhere.

Now, as the dust settles after the transformation scramble, a new problem has emerged. Even as companies iron out their digital onboarding processes and technology training, digital team members continue to experience friction in the virtual workplace.

A Gartner study found “67% of employees still feel that the technologies they use for work require more effort than they should”. This extra effort and stress not only chip away at productivity and work output, but also health, happiness and wellbeing.

Additionally, today’s knowledge workers lose 1.5 hours of focus time every day—nearly a day each week—to digital distraction. Near-constant interruptions via meetings, emails, and messages and notifications from platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams draw attention away from getting work done.

These issues cannot go unchecked. Businesses need to evolve and nurture the ways their digital teams work best. For hybrid and remote teams, this means reframing the virtual workplace as its own environment—connected to, but different from, the office.

By creating digital-first experiences that enable team members to work and collaborate seamlessly and without so much distraction, distributed teams have a better chance of thriving.

However, this requires prioritizing the digital employee experience.

What is the digital employee experience?

Digital employee experience (DEX) is exactly what it sounds like: the employee experience of team members working in digital environments.

In the past, employee experience measurements have focused on things like retention, satisfaction, referrals and engagement. When it comes to employee digital experience, these things certainly still matter. But the concept of ‘moving the office online’ only gets us so far.

While this framing provided the scaffolding to guide decisions about which platforms to invest in and how to rework processes for digital work, it has fallen short of meeting all employee needs over time. Ultimately, replicating the way things used to be with office-based work doesn’t always work in the digital or remote work environment .

To address this, organizations should also look into:

  • availability and quality of hardware (computers, cameras, mics, phones, etc.)
  • network connection speed and reliability
  • startup times for devices and programs
  • frequency of crash reports
  • app usage metrics

All of these things and more dramatically impact the DEX.

As team members collaborate in virtual workplaces, they need dependable, up-to-date technology that enables them to work seamlessly. And they also need the right processes and support to use their tools and structure their workdays in ways that are efficient and enable time and space for deep focus work.

Why does digital employee experience matter?

Your DEX isn’t about giving team members the latest gadgets and platforms—although that never hurts. It’s about meeting their need for frictionless digital experiences at work, enabling them to be as productive as possible.

Consider Anthony Veder Group , a Netherlands-based shipping company that created a digital workplace dashboard for its team back in 2016. By providing every employee with a unified view of time-saving data, the company began saving 33 minutes of time per employee per day.

With the dashboard’s strong emphasis on supporting individual and departmental needs, it likely worked—at least in part—by cutting down on collaboration distraction.

Collaboration distraction is what happens when teams lack visibility into what others are doing.

To compensate, people overuse collaboration tools. They send more messages, toggle between multiple platforms and hold additional meetings in an effort to gain visibility and get the answers they need to do their work. Meanwhile, they’re eating up valuable time and growing more prone to burnout.

The company above recognized its digital teams needed one place where they could easily see all the information they needed, rather than continually messaging and holding meetings. With a virtual tool that gathered, organized and displayed critical information, they could reduce friction in the DEX and streamline digital teamwork .

This is one example that led to real impacts for a digital-focused team, but it’s far from the only way to improve the DEX. Every organization—and its people—will have particular problems that may require unique solutions.

Still, data visibility plays a huge role.

Put your digital team first

Your digital team needs genuine support in creating a virtual workplace that actually works for real people. They need proper onboarding, training and enough transparency and flexibility in the digital work environment to understand and manage the work that needs to be done.

If employees have a hard time finding or accessing information they need, or can’t easily complete simple tasks due to a lack of visibility into what others are working on, their productivity is obviously going to suffer. The same goes for being unsure of what stage a task is at or when it’s convenient to contact someone.

And all that friction can easily lead to burnout and cut into overall employee retention. Accordinging to a recent study by PwC on the global workforce, a fifth of employees are still planning to switch employers in 2022.

So how can businesses and their teams identify the pain points punctuating their digital workdays? One approach is to simply ask.

Surveys and reporting options enable teams to alert their employers to things like:

  • inadequate hardware/software
  • poor/slow connections
  • frequent crashes
  • good-fit tools that meet company needs
  • workarounds and solutions found by the team

With this information, organizations can address their digital team’s most obvious pain points.

However, a comprehensive DEX initiative should also address less obvious ones.

Optimized digital employee experience requires data

The quest for efficiency, productivity, creativity, deep focus work and meaningful collaboration demands asking hard questions about the tools and platforms you’ve invested in.

Gartner estimates by 2025, more than 50% of IT organizations will use DEX to help prioritize and measure digital initiative success. To do that, they’ll need deeper insights into the DEX so they can make informed, impactful and measurable decisions.

With a clear vision of how people navigate their digital workdays, teams can ensure their tech stacks are being used in ways that make sense and that their people have fewer barriers and stressors impacting their performance and wellbeing.

According to one study, 89% of employees think “IT and HR could work better together to improve the digital employee experience.”

To do that, they’ll need data.

Making the data visible to your digital workforce

How can organizations bring IT and HR together for DEX success? It’s a fairly straightforward process:

  1. Gather data about your digital workplace
  2. Analyze data for areas of improvement
  3. Create and execute a DEX improvement plan

Though it seems simple, most companies run into a problem right at step one: they have no idea how people are interacting with their technologies and within their digital environments.

According to one study, businesses may be spending an average of $2,623 per employee per year on SaaS. Despite this investment, there are huge blind spots when it comes to figuring out how (or even whether) team members are using the tools. And software costs are dwarfed by the inefficient use of them.

We may be talking about $10k per employee per year based on $80k fully loaded costs of recoverable time. This is before burnout and churn costs are considered and before we consider the opportunity costs in lost revenue associated with the employee costs.

Employers also severely underestimate the impact of digital distraction—a huge problem employees face when working with digital communication and collaboration tools. This means IT and HR shouldn’t be the only departments seeing this data.

If everyone on a team—from the top down—has access to tech usage insights, they’ll better understand how work happens in the digital workplace.

This democratization of data can help team members understand which tools their team uses and when, making it easier to find ways to optimize processes, fine-tune tech stack usage patterns and collaborate with greater intention.

Building distributed and digital teams that thrive

If you want to nurture your team’s DEX, you have to have a benchmark measurement of what it looks like to start. You need to know:

  • how your technology is being used day-to-day and over time;
  • where time is being lost to inefficiencies, distractions and context switching; and
  • what the work inputs actually look like as your people work toward successful outputs.

The first step to figuring all this out is to get the data. Digital work analytics tools like Produce8 enable teams to watch themselves working ‘out loud’, capturing the digital experience for all to see in real time and over time.

This way, everyone from the top down can get a clear picture of what the digital workplace actually looks like in action. And most importantly, everyone can begin to identify and discuss where improvements can be made and measured to ensure impact.

Digital work isn't going anywhere.

So a better digital employee experience means a better future of work .

To be a part of that future, it’s time to take a good look at the kind of DEX you’re serving up to your team and where it's falling behind the times.

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