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Making the shift to a digital-first business environment

How the world’s most innovative companies are leading the way

Making the shift to a digital-first business environment

A year ago, if you asked senior leaders if their company went fully remote tomorrow, whether they’d still be successful, many, including myself would have said it’s not possible. Fast forward, and the impossible has not only become possible, but we’ve proved that we can be effective, creative, and productive working from anywhere—even amid a global pandemic.

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We’ve adopted alternative working hours, onboarded new employees, welcomed unexpected Zoom cameos, and gotten to know our colleagues on a more human level. We know this new way of working works, and employees will expect this flexibility going forward. Research from the Future Forum shows that 93% of knowledge workers want a flexible schedule, and 76% want flexibility in location. And that flexibility will be critical in recruiting and retaining top talent.

Organizations of all sizes, across all industries, are embracing this moment to reinvent the way we work. Some will remain fully remote, some will anchor to an office, and many will employ a flexible hybrid combination. But the common denominator among those leading the charge is a digital-first approach.

“Digital-first” doesn’t mean “never in person.” It’s about empowering people to work when and where it’s best for them. Offices are just one of our tools for building relationships and creating space for focused work.

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The world’s most innovative companies are leading the way in the digital-first transformation with Slack as the hub. We’ve curated their most successful tips into “The digital-first toolkit.” Below are three of those tips from TIBCO, Expedia and Up.

CHECK IN WITH EASE

At TIBCO, they’re leveraging Slack to continuously check in and gauge employee sentiment around returning to work. Uncovering ways to better understand the different opinions of their employee base, through things like surveys and polls, helped them develop a return-to-work strategy that met the needs of all. Developing open, honest communication with your employee base is achievable. TIBCO recommends the following three steps:

  1. Select a tool or platform that is easy for all employees to access and receive information.
  2. Identify a handful of leaders who will deliver critical information companywide. This way, employees know whom to contact with questions and concerns.
  3. Check in frequently. Establish a consistent cadence of communication on critical issues, and provide an update, even if small. This kind of transparency can eliminate a lot of employee uncertainty.

DIGITAL MINDFULNESS

At Expedia, they’re developing and using digital tools for mindfulness and self-expression. In the absence of verbal cues, they lean on Slack statuses and emojis for when someone is online but crashing on something critical, feeling sick, taking care of family, or simply in need of a break. Developing custom emojis may sound simple, and it is, but it’s also incredibly effective. The company uses emojis to show what different mood levels could mean for employees with mood disorders or other mental health challenges, and they developed custom emojis to “add richness to self-expression.”

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DEEPEN CONNECTIONS

At Up, Australia’s biggest and fastest growing bank, they’re automating tasks to free up employee time to focus on more difficult, important, and creative work and develop connections with each other.

Because they deploy software updates around 100x more than many banks, they developed an app called Maestro to coordinate a number of essential testing and risk management tasks. It also keeps track of a deployment leaderboard to add a little fun.

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“Cafe Bot” automatically connects two people from across the company, schedules 15 minutes for them to meet, and suggests a topic of conversation. As research has shown, remote and hybrid work has benefited most employees, but we need to find ways to deepen connections with colleagues. This is a great solution.

This digital-first shift won’t happen overnight, and it’s going to look different globally and across teams. But the team at Slack is incredibly optimistic about the future we’re building and how it will improve not only how we work but also how we live. Download a free copy of the digital-first toolkit.

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Robert Frati is the chief sales & success officer at Slack

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