The hybrid digital workplace with Workgrid and AES

28 September 2021 by DWG

For this September 2021 DWG Institute Technology Exchange, we were joined by Troy Campano, Chief Product Officer, Workgrid, and Angie Wyatt, Director, Global Director Workplace Experience, The AES Corporation, to talk about the how the Workgrid platform is improving the employee experience in the hybrid digital workplace. This post explores some of the main takeaways from the session. A link to a recording of the session is included. You can also download the related slide deck from AES and from Workgrid.

Who will be interested in this Technology Exchange?

This Technology Exchange will be of particular interest to:

  • anyone looking to introduce Workgrid
  • digital workplace teams
  • teams looking to improve the digital employee experience in the hybrid workplace and reduce ‘app sprawl’
  • organizations with heavy adoption of Microsoft Teams.

The impact of app sprawl in the hybrid workplace

The way we work is changing. The past 18 months have seen a dramatic rise in remote work, and hybrid working now looks set to continue for millions of employees. This has put far more emphasis on the digital workplace and seen a rise in the use of platforms such as Microsoft Teams, as well as a plethora of other tools and apps that employees need to access across the working week.

This is increasing ‘app sprawl’ across the digital workplace, leading to alarming statistics that suggest 70% of employees have more than five applications open at any given time and can switch between them more than 1,100 times per day. This is resulting in a variety of issues relating to poor digital employee experience, including inefficiency, wasted time and user frustration, in turn negatively impacting employee wellbeing.

In our latest Technology Exchange, we heard from Troy Campano, Chief Product Officer, Workgrid, and Angie Wyatt, Director, Global Director Workplace Experience, The AES Corporation, about what they’re doing to reduce app sprawl and improve the digital employee experience in the new hybrid world of work.

Workgrid is a technology provider whose platform provides an ‘experience layer’ that aggregates notifications, workflow, communications, content, and more, from enterprise systems such as SharePoint, ServiceNow, Workday, SAP, Oracle and Concur all into one single, consistent user experience, accessible from an enterprise intranet, but also from other employee touchpoints too. This is designed to reduce the number of systems an employee must visit in order to complete tasks, tackling app sprawl and improving the employee experience in the process.

AES is a global power company headquartered in the US and operating power distribution, thermal and renewable generation facilities across different countries. AES has introduced Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams, and is currently implementing various projects to support a more people-centred digital workplace. One of the technologies being introduced is the Workgrid platform, with a pilot set to launch shortly.

In the session, both Troy and Angie gave us insights into how Workgrid is being implemented, as well as a glimpse into the product roadmap. Here are six takeaways from what proved to be a highly informative Technology Exchange.

1. Platforms such as Workgrid are evolving to be where work happens

An interesting trend for employee experience platforms such as Workgrid is to be increasingly accessible from different platforms across the digital workplace, ensuring that employees can access notifications, communications and workflow transactions from the places where work actually happens, and across multiple touchpoints.

Troy Campano explained that this is the direction of travel for Workgrid and gave us a demo of an upcoming Q1 2022 release that will mean Workgird is integrated within Microsoft Teams. The digital experience team at AES are particularly excited about this release as they have extremely high adoption of Teams, particularly since the pandemic began, and they believe this will be very popular with employees.

As well as being available through other channels such as intranets and a mobile app, the Workgrid team are also considering future integrations like Slack and Salesforce.

2. Workgrid integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Teams

During the session, we got to see some of the detail around Workgrid experienced through Microsoft Teams, and how features such as one-way and two-way notifications, approvals and others work. The experience is very much based around the feeds that occur within Teams and has been built so that:

  • Workgrid can be accessed via the left-hand navigation across Teams, although this can be set to be a custom icon and name to match the internal branding used by different organizations for their Workgrid implementation. The app can also be reached through the Teams app store.
  • The icon has badging to show when an individual has new items to view or action – this was considered a critical element to ensure people can keep up to date with Workgrid.
  • The experience leans heavily on a chatbot experience for employees to be able to complete simple transactions and support workflow approvals, all from within the Workgrid feed in Teams.

3. AES focused on foundations to build a new digital workplace experience

At AES, the digital workplace team have been working on a wider initiative in delivering ‘Digital Workplace Experience 2.0’ – a new employee experience that will ‘shift our focus from technical to human’.

In order to ensure that the next-generation AES digital workplace is focused on the needs of employees and to plan out the detail, the team carried out research to develop a set of personas and accompanying user journeys. The personas are a collaboration between IT, HR and Communications; they can be used across multiple projects and cover elements such as opportunities and people engagement.

The AES team also worked to develop a new vision for a people-centred digital experience with three main aims:

  • We are connected anywhere and everywhere.
  • We put knowledge and expertise to work.
  • We balance productivity and wellbeing.

4. The AES team embrace learning as you go

A key overall approach for the AES digital workplace team is learning as they go and building on their own experiences. Angie explained that the COVID-19 pandemic had meant the team had learnt that they could deliver remote experiences and are now looking to see how things have changed; for example, they will be revisiting their personas going forward.

This more iterative approach to the digital workplace is also shaping their roll-out to the Workgrid platform. Before being deployed into the production environment, the team are going to launch a Workgrid pilot in Brazil, a market where users are enthusiastic about technology implementations and also tend to give high-value feedback that will help the team to improve the platform and inform the launch.

This kind of approach is also recommended by Workgrid. Troy explained that they often advise teams to start small, introducing two or three kinds of capability to help drive engagement and adoption as well as to get the team used to administering the platform. An approval workflow is often a good use case because it has obvious value and is very simple, gets everybody used to the experience, and also directly benefits managers and executives whose support and advocacy can help with wider adoption and platform evolution.

5. AES is focusing on high-value use cases such as approvals

AES has a number of different core systems across its digital workplace, including SAP Ariba, Salesforce, SharePoint, Workday, Microsoft Teams, ADP, Concur, and more. The Workgrid platform is designed to aggregate some of the common touchpoints with these disparate systems.

To ensure that Workgrid provides value from day one and also starts to build good adoption, the team have focused on a number of high-value use cases, including the approval workflow from key systems such as ServiceNow, as well more engagement-led use cases such as delivering pulse surveys relating to people issues. Approvals, for example, are now being carried out in three clicks instead of six. Overall, the systems covered by use cases slated for the Workgrid pilot include:

  • Intranet home site
  • Communications
  • Surveys
  • Ariba
  • Concur
  • ServiceNow.

Additional use cases being considered include integrations with ADP, Workday Learning and PowerBI. For the pilot, the team have also worked closely with communications to build targeted communications divided into ‘To do’s’ (items that need action) and ‘To know’s’ (items that employees need to read).

6. Stakeholders needed some persuading

Initially, the team at AES worked to engage different stakeholders who own the various systems that will be integrated with Workgrid. Some were very excited about the potential of the new platform but others were more hesitant; in particular, there was some initial nervousness about meeting data protection and privacy commitments, as well as letting transactions happen outside the core system they owned. However, since demos to show the system in action have been organized, most stakeholders are now fully behind the system.

For example, at first, the HR team responsible for employee onboarding were unsure about how they could use Workgrid, but are now discussing integrating onboarding-related workflows and notifications through the platform.

Our thanks to Troy and Angie for an excellent Technology Exchange!

Programme notes

This Technology Exchange was broadcast in September 2021. Joining DWG’s Nicole Carter, Andrea Brant and Rose Miller were Troy Campano, Chief Product Officer, Workgrid, and Angie Wyatt, Director, Global Director Workplace Experience, The AES Corporation. The recording includes the following items:

  • Introduction and housekeeping
  • Troy Campano presentation and demo
  • The digital workplace of the future
  • The experience layer
  • Rise of app sprawl
  • Workgrid for Microsoft Teams demo
  • Angie Wyatt presentation and demo
  • AES digital workplace journey
  • Developing personas
  • The new people-centred digital workplace experience
  • Using Workgrid
  • Use cases: video demo
  • Next steps
  • Working on the pilot
  • To do’s and to know’s
  • Using Workgrid in Teams
  • Would Workgrid replace an intranet?
  • Interfaces and administration
  • More on Workgrid for Teams
  • Next steps for personas
  • Engaging stakeholders and users
  • Running the pilot
  • Workgrid roadmap
  • Decluttering the inbox
  • Metrics and analytics
  • Workflow
  • Implementing Workgrid
  • Wrap-up for the hour-long broadcast
  • Overtime session
  • Impact on content
  • Priority notifications within Workgrid
  • Fina wrap-up

Recording

Categorised in: Digital employee experience, DWG Institute, Future of work

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