Emma Marlow
6 March 2019
4 minute read

Employee driven design: creating the digital workplace

By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware that the Fourth industrial revolution is driving seismic workplace changes. You may not be affected yet, but it won’t be long before the huge challenges presented with the growing influence of AI offset the potential benefits of digital nomadism for many of us. And this isn’t limited to the non-creative industries. An alarming report from The Guardian describes a test which saw an AI driven programme create copy remarkably similar to that of a staff writer.

Near-future threat to jobs aside, currently we’re experiencing a digital skills gap the like of which probably hasn’t been seen since the first industrial revolution when farmworkers were retrained in factories.  This means it’s a seller’s (employee’s) market out there.  

There’s far more need for talent with specific, tech data and systems skills than ever before, just to keep a handle on the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data we create every day.  The traditional workplace (employer) enticements of job security, status and pension no longer hold in a world where none of us knows where we’ll be in ten years, nevermind when we reach retirement age.  Or even if there will be a retirement age…

So how do employers build a workplace of the future, where the best talent is retained no matter what the open role; and the best specialist expertise is parachuted in to maintain business agility? The good news is it’s already happening.

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Here, in the tech bubble, we’re already seeing more fluid work environments which are helping to redefine archaic 9to5 rules and empowering employees, whatever their work-life balance.  Just look at the news from Publicis that their entire UK workforce of 5,000 should now be able to work flexibly.  Such a great headline, although we feel the proof will be in how this plays out across client facing agency divisions… after all, for so long the advertising business has been built on the principle of “client says jump” and if the business leader of a multi-million dollar account can’t get hold of his agency lead because they are picking the kids up from school, a whole new set of rules will need to be drafted.

For the moment then, let’s accept the idea of work-from-anywhere is a little rough around the edges and will need to be fitted to each industry in which it’s a change agent.  But there are other influencers to a workplace driven by employees; namely the rise of younger / return-to-work workforce demographics, driving the need for emotionally intelligent approach to how organisations treat their resource.  On a recent job application received by MeasureMatch ourselves, a graduate wrote “Seeking entry level employment in a progressive and innovative project that will have a positive impact on society”.

This is talent no longer prioritising – non-existent – job security, but rather job “experience.  A social purpose; knowledge that we are working for a business that if not doing inherent good in society, isn’t contributing to its challenges; opportunity to feed valued and part of a bigger community; all these are reasons cited by millennials for eschewing traditional graduate career paths and focusing on personal happiness.  All of which meassn a transformation, not simply evolution, of how today’s organisations are designed, which is broadly to meet the needs of their shareholders, not their employees.The tasks facing HR departments are more impoactive than ever before; the better the employee experience, the better the talent that can be brought in - and retained within - a business.  For the first time, businesses truly can be build on people, which is an oddly socialist tenet for an inherently capitalist society.

All the employee-centric design in the world doesn’t change the fact that across the corporate world, businesses are being asked to do more (output) with less (investment). These two principles seem to be at odds with one another; we must be more focused on employees but also more focused on our bottom line?  Of course, a happy employee is a productive employee but this principle can only be stretched so far; in tech industries particularly we are hearing more and more of “burn-out”; so while focusing on the latter, business leaders are often ignoring the human impact.

The answer?  Augmenting a productive, motivated, engaged workforce with expert skills from outside of the full time environment to maximise business agility and minimise resource wastage. technology, responsible for so many human challenges in the workplace, is also the solution.  Never before has there been potential for organisational visibility of all full time / contracted resource available to an organisation, allowing decision-makers from C-suites to HR to team leads to deploy talent where it’s needed most.

Here at MeasureMatch we recognise that augmenting teams with qualified / experienced ondemand resource delivers flexibility key to the business success of today; one of the reasons why we’re working so hard to develop our platform to help define the employee driven, digital workplace.


Emma Marlow

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