The Impact of the Digital Workforce

Over the summer, Forbes Insights partnered with VMware to survey more than 2,000 executives and frontline employees around the world to get a sense of what helps individuals do their jobs most effectively, hear how digital transformation journeys are progressing, and assess the cultural impact of these changes. From the perspectives of both end users and CIOs, VMware wanted to find out how providing end users with the digital tools to choose how they work best can impact enterprises as a whole. The striking results are presented in the infographic below.

Employees First Infographic

Over the next several months, VMware will be sharing insights into some of the key themes surfacing from the study. Here’s an overview of what the study uncovered:

New Working Environments and Cultures Emerged

Organizations operate with varying degrees of flexibility and freedom, especially when it comes to giving employees access to the tools they want and need to do their jobs.  

As might be expected, surveyed organizations report a large range of supported digital workstyles and technologies following a traditional bell-shaped curve:

  • The Traditional Workspace – Companies that do not (in the opinions of their end users) provide employees with the technology they need to do their jobs effectively
  • The Transitioning Workspace – Companies that provide the applications workers want and need, but don’t yet make them easily accessible
  • The Digital Workspace – Companies that provide the applications workers want and need, and make them readily accessible anywhere, anytime, and on any device

A Shift in Culture Is Accompanying Digital Transformation

By empowering employees—giving them greater access to the apps they prefer and need to do their jobs—companies self-identified as digital leaders are migrating from hierarchical, top-down, “command and control” cultures to businesses powered by employee initiative and management trust.  

This rebalancing gives frontline employees the tools, including the underlying digital platform, and the mindset freedom that they need to innovate and execute. It’s a cultural change that ultimately becomes a decisive competitive differentiator.  

It’s a shift that many believe is already underway. Companies that give employees ready access to the apps they need were nearly three times as likely to be rated leaders in digital transformation by survey respondents.

Individual Productivity Is Just the Beginning

Empowered employees are more productive employees. During the workday, individuals whose firms make apps available and highly accessible said they

  • Spend nearly 20 percent less time on manual processes
  • Experience increased collaboration
  • Make decisions faster

They are nearly 5x, 4x, and 2x more likely than employees in traditional workspaces to report gains in personal productivity, to say their company is a more desirable place to work, and indicate that apps are very important in accelerating decision-making in their companies, respectively.

In a nutshell, companies that make apps available to employees outperform those who don’t. But companies that make apps available, and highly accessible in the ways employees choose and prefer, significantly outperform those that don’t.

Aggregated Improvements Bring Business Success to the Enterprise

As companies race to innovate for consumers, they may be tempted to cut corners when it comes to their own employees. But the data shows that providing employees with consumer-grade experiences aggregates to gains that positively impact overall company performance.

Empowered employees, compared to traditional employees,

  • Project 34 percent increase in efficiency
  • Report almost double the increase in customer service quality
  • Believe their human resources (HR) function is improved, helping their companies recruit top talent

And 87 percent of all CIOs surveyed believe that digitally empowering their employees can drive at least 5 percent additional revenue growth over three years.

Can More Be Done?

End users think there’s more work to be done when it comes to availability, utility, and freedom to use employee technologies in the workplace. In contrast, CIOs seem pretty happy with the way things are progressing, considering 72 percent of CIOs versus 40 percent of employees believe their company is a pioneer or leader in providing cutting-edge technologies to employees.

More communication is likely needed to prevent this disconnect from negatively impacting overall company performance in the days, months, and years ahead.

Learn more about empowering employees and the Digital Workspace, and join the conversation at #EmployeesFirst.