I’ve spent the greater part of my 20+ years in technology trying to make work easier and simplify the way people collaborate. As a product leader at companies like Adobe, Box, and EMC, I’ve led teams that delve into digital workflows to remove friction from routine tasks like file sharing and document collaboration. Today at Miro, I am applying the same approach to making the digital workplace more visible and engaging.
My background in technology has led me to pay close attention to the phenomenon I call the Great Resignation. Since the start of the pandemic, millions of knowledge workers have left their jobs – sometimes to take on new jobs or change jobs, and at other times to refocus their lives and rearrange their priorities without any specific work at all.
Many people suffer from burnout at work. Some studies point to an increase in meetings since the beginning of the pandemic as a source of burnout. Even outside of meetings, collaboration in an organization can often be a pain, relying on a range of messages, logging into multiple applications, and drawing in colleagues around the world to get the alignment we need to make an impact. The result is a chaotic, unreactive, frustrating, and inhuman work experience.
My years of experience working to improve digital work has made me believe that there are opportunities for companies to use new technology and work practices to improve employee retention. A redesigned approach to collaboration technology and practices can bring relief in areas where workers are most disruptive and help companies improve employee satisfaction, drive innovation, and keep their top talent motivated about coming to work.
Bringing asynchronous work into the mainstream
If meetings are a major cause of burnout, switching to asynchronous working methods can help prevent it. Asynchronous work is a style of work that doesn’t require all team members to be online simultaneously, which means employees have greater flexibility as to when and how they work and reduce cognitive interruptions when focusing on tasks.
Normalizing asynchronous work requires a cultural shift. At Meru, we have adopted No Meeting Wednesday which gives our team a full day to focus and work uninterrupted. The adoption of this practice gave us a window into the role technology should play in providing context and information when mutual dialogue is not an option.
For our team, workflow automation platforms help enable asynchronous work by keeping projects progress clear and sequential. And our own platform – Miro – gives us a place to map ideas and provide context for project direction so we can work independently without “quick sync” meetings dropped into our calendars throughout the day.
The biggest benefit of asynchronous working in terms of employee retention is that it can unleash flexibility in working hours. In asynchronous work models, colleagues on different continents do not need to burn the candle at both ends to meet at staggered hours. Employees have more freedom to balance their life and work while still meeting their expectations in the workplace.
Invest in engaging in communication
Personal relationships in the workplace have been damaged as a result of telecommuting, as has employee engagement Currently going down. I think these are related phenomena that boil down to the fact that remote work makes it difficult to build meaningful relationships with people and work. With technology being the greatest touch point in the employee experience for remote workers, it’s clear that many of the tools used in the workplace simply don’t help us connect.
This is one of the reasons why I believe that visual collaboration is a critical component of the technology suite of the future, and why our team at Miro is investing so much creativity to make collaboration feel more human. Our platform can bring back the feeling of collaboration in the same room, and companies can strengthen teams by helping them mix work and play.
So how can we collaborate in more human ways with technology at the center of our interactions? By remembering that work is not everything. Offices contain water-cooled conversations and ping-pong tables for building relationships, and virtual workplaces can benefit from similar episodic experiences. At Meru we design group meetings like Open All Hands with ice-breaking activities like temperature checks Or “meet” games (two truths and a lie is always a hit) that bring people together.
Even outside of entertainment, Miro’s visual collaboration platform creates a common focal point for meetings, allowing attendees to see each other’s actions in real time. It can also support embedding attractive multimedia elements such as videos and audio quickly in the work. All of these things can help create a community among your team, help people understand the ‘why’ they work, and hopefully keep them engaged and enthusiastic about your company as a workplace.
Simplify the technology experience
SaaS has always been a promise of simplicity, but in organizations with too many SaaS tools, the experience is often the opposite. Research says normal worker 9.4 . is used Different applications are daily, and as the digital workspace becomes bloated, information is hard to find, hard to sync, and teams struggle to work together in one process.
It’s hard to reduce the amount of SaaS we rely on, especially when areas like sales, marketing, purchasing, human resources, and countless others have their own vertical tools that help boost their productivity. But we can simplify the technology experience with integrations that allow these systems to connect, share data, and update each other—thus reducing the amount of shuffling and copying of information our employees have to do every day. To make this possible, application developers must ensure that robust APIs are an essential part of their product strategies. And IT teams need to look holistically at the integration capabilities of their systems, and find ways for them to talk.
By simplifying the technology experience in the organization, you can help your workers avoid the frustration of not being able to get anything done, and instead give them the joy of getting the dirty parts of their work done for them. With this progress, may come a sense of pride that makes them excited to stay.
The big resignation isn’t just about technology
It would be naive to blame the Great Resignation only on technology. Among other factors, the pandemic has caused countless people to drop out of the workforce to take care of themselves and their families, and the demand to refill these jobs has given workers a new level of power to choose new employers and demand better work experiences.
However, technology is a major part of the experience your company creates for employees in the workplace. CIOs and people leaders have the opportunity to work in coordination to fix the ways in which they can lead to burnout, frustrated inefficiency, and disconnected communication. Creating an employee experience that leads to flexibility, engagement, and success can go a long way in persuading your workforce to commit to your company.