Jo UpwardJo UpwardApril 29, 2019


The Delphi Study of Work 2050 can be seen as a sober read for those of us working in workplace culture.

As well as predicting an unemployment rate of around 24 percent of the world’s population by 2050 due to the convergence of technology, it talks about how we will be both virtual and metaverse-centric or living in a collective virtual world. 

There is no doubt that the impact of the next round of technology advances will be profound.  We are already going from ANI (Artificial Narrow Intelligence), where machines can learn a specific task, to AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), where they mimic humans, to bordering on the ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence), where machines’ abilities and functions become superior to that of humans. 

What this means for the workforce is that the nature of work has changed. Today we are multi-local and mobile. By 2050 we will live and work in a collective virtual world. No longer ‘jobs for life’ – there will be fewer permanent contracts, more patchwork careers, and a need to invest in long-term learning.

By 2030, digital assistants will guide us through our day, connected to our schedules, aware of our preferences, and with the ability and knowledge to book our favourite restaurants, plan routes, and arrange transportation for our travel.  Keyboards will be a thing of the past as interaction with devices will be via speech and gesture, and everything will be connected – by 2030, 20 percent of the world’s electricity is forecast to be used by the billions of connected devices.

We will of course be driven to work by our driverless car, which will be enabled by 5G, that it is predicted will have over two billion connections by 2030. And we will have less days off sick – a combined result of working on freelance contracts with no sick pay and the fact that our health will be monitored through our wearable devices.

So what does this mean for those of us working in workplace design and culture? How do we attract people to a workplace when we know the future is about designing for the tech rather than the talent?

We know that all businesses will need to be digital – to embrace digital transformation within their workforce. We also know that the human aspect is often what puts the heart into our businesses and gives us our point of differentiation from our competitors.  So, how do we design the space that brings digital transformation into our workplace yet is attractive to those who will work within it?

Flexibility in the workplace

Firstly, we need to create flexibility in the work environment to help teams work in a more agile way. Work will more organised around project not function and this can be challenging to accommodate in a fixed space. People need to be able to move from project to project and the technology and space needs to accommodate this seamlessly without causing delay or disturbance to those working agilely.

We all know that real estate is expensive and therefore the tendency is to cram people into the office space and ‘agility’ becomes another word for too many people in too little space. Digital teams, such as developers, also tend to be office-based rather than flexible workers, so the challenge is to create clever collaborative spaces where teams can get together on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis to discuss projects and progress, but also have space for concentrated activity.

The space needs to be attractive

To attract and retain good people you need to create attractive workplaces. We all have seen on YouTube, or at least heard about, Google’s offices complete with slide, putting green, and revolving bookcases, and although most of us don’t stretch to that level of innovation or budget, we do need to make our workforce proud of the space they work in.

The 360 degree work we live and work in means that we share far more of our lives on a day-to-day level. This includes our life in the office. Workspaces need to reflect the brand – so what you are externally saying to customers, internally lines up with your staff. This isn’t just graphics on the wall, but how the brand is lived and demonstrated within the workplace, including what food offerings are available, what rest and relaxation areas there are, how wellbeing is being addressed, and so on.

Ability to engage all

Ensuring that your frontline staff – for example those working in retail or those in the field – are delivering your brand and feel their workplace reflects them too is key. For example, getting feedback from these frontline staff in real-time or even delivering internal and external communication strategies in 3D and on their own mobile devices, can be a way to excite them about product launches, educate them about brand values, and make them feel that they know – and understand – what is going on within the company.

Culture comes from people, not brands, products, or robots. Every workforce needs a culture and therefore needs to place their people at the heart of workspace they are working in, whether this workspace is in the office, in the field, or virtual.

Jo UpwardJo UpwardAugust 31, 2018


With the Institute of Customer Service recently warning that the “survival of the fittest will be driven by how well customers are served” and 33 percent of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service, there is no doubt that Customer Experience continues to be a main concern for organisations big and small.

Even though Customer Experience transformation has been a focus of most organisations now for going on 10 years, how many of those transformation programmes still have the energy, focus, and effectiveness that they had when they were first created?

Just as times have changed politically, economically, and financially over the last decade, the process of keeping the customer at the heart of what you do needs to evolve. Here are five tips on rebooting your Customer Experience Transformation programme; CX 2.0.

Dedicate a space

Organisations have long felt the benefit of bespoke sales suites where they can engage with better, more strategic conversations with their enterprise customers. However, few have a dedicated space for engaging with customers around the experience they provide, a place where you and your customers can co-create future experiences. 

We are starting to see organisations bringing traditional sales thinking into customer experience transformation.  Creating Customer Experience Test Centres where you bring customers (both consumer and enterprise) to review touchpoints, identify drop outs or poor experience and help you to design the ideal future. This signals to the organisation the important and focus you are placing on getting customers’ experiences right. 

Embedding the brand ethos and promise, you can make it a comfortable place to bring customers and other stakeholders where they feel able to be honest and constructive about improvements they would like to see. Combine the comfort with analytic tools that can help redesign key experiences and to help test preferences to make the space as effective and efficient as possible.

Open Up

Customer Experience mapping and process analytics is often done behind closed doors with internal project teams mapping experiences, identifying drop outs and re-engineering processes. Changes are then made to product, services and processes, expenditure incurred in IT, training, marketing and so on to support the changes then launched and measured to see if the desired effect on improving customer experience has been achieved.

Often these changes produce unintended consequences, creating, for example, challenges in the contact centre, delays in process flow and problems for the supply chain.

What better way to stop this unnecessary domino effect – and save your organisation time and money – than open up the process up to customers; who better to help you shape a truly customer-centric service for the future? But also, to other stakeholders – contact centre staff, for example, have a wealth of knowledge and feedback that may not make its way to the transformation team. 

One example where this has been implemented effectively is with the Dutch retail bank ING that included its employees in the co-creation process of a low-end life insurance product. On the one hand they had identified a younger, harder to reach target audience.

On the other hand, they had a high churn of junior advisors whose lack of experience led to more of an admin role than a commission-based sales role. Leading on from a Customer Experience workshop, it became apparent that these advisors and the target customers for the life insurance product had a lot in common and their younger, more junior advisors were better placed to understand the need, desire, and demand of this younger target audience. 

Taking this learning, the product sales process was evolved to be built around the junior advisors selling the product with the support of more senior staff. The results were startling – the revenues generated in the first two years were the highest in the life insurance division’s history and retention of their junior advisors improved significantly.

Going even broader, your supply chain can also be brought into the fold, helping to make the end to end process that makes up the experience you are designing more likely to be achievable.

Design thinking

Design thinking, with its roots in software UI and UX design, can provide some useful lessons and a deep understanding of the customer, defining the experience that will meet their needs, being creative in ideas to deliver the experience and then prototyping and testing those ideas is a much more agile approach than traditional process re-engineering.

Executing design thinking in a bespoke environment with all key stakeholders involved will ensure investment that is finally made in service improvements is tested and targeted to improve efficacy and return on investment.

Get real (time)

However, look to take Design Thinking one step further by adopting a much more real-time approach. A Customer Experience Test Centre with easy access for your customers or based on the Contact Centre floor allows you to analyse and solve experience issues as they happen. This ensures minimum frustration for customers and minimum cost to your organisation.

A great example of this is one UK-based financial service company that ensured that all front-line staff had 20 percent their time dedicated to service improvements. Staff had specialisms they focused on for improvements and built contacts and a support team within the business to allow them to direct improvements.

So, for example, if call volumes were increasing after communication to pension holders about a taxation change, the agent responsible for communications improvements would bring a team together to review the reasons for call volume increases, learn lessons and apply for communications in the future.

Visualise the experience

The final boost to your transformation programme is to get a lot more visual in the experience you are providing today and the experience you are aiming for as a result of your CX programme. This applies to the macro experience; creating a clear and understandable vision that makes sense across the organisation (and that can be communicated externally as an ambition as well as internally). It also applies to the micro; investing in digital tools that can help visualise processes that are easy to understand and easy for a range of stakeholders to contribute their valuable transformation ideas. 

In today’s world where products can be sourced cheaper and promotions undercut by competitors at the touch of a button, Customer Experience is the one strand many organisations must focus on to keep their share of the market. Ensuring that you keep listening to your customers and involve them at every step of the journey will bring them closer to your brand, drive advocacy and ultimately help transform your brand for the future.

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Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.



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