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Digital workplace project in the pipeline? Pay attention to user adoption (2/3)

So you've recently implemented a new digital workplace, or you’re planning to do so. That’s great! But how do you convince your employees to embrace the new solution?

In our previous blog post we gave you four good reasons why the IT manager is the best person to manage and promote user adoption. In this blog post we give you eight concrete tips to help ensure that your end users will want to use the solution, will be able to use the solution, and will keep on using the solution in the future.

A three-step cultural shift

Implementing change in an organization, even when it’s desperately needed, is often met with resistance. Many people buy into the old saying: “better the devil you know than the devil you don't”, and insist on sticking to their old way of working, even if this is far from ideal.

Change is hard. It means a loss of control, and it strips away our routines and habits, which is really challenging for us. Change also creates anxiety, as people ask themselves: Will I be able to handle the change? Am I going to have to work harder? Will I end up getting fired?

Three questions lie at the heart of effective change management. Do employees want to work with the solution? Are they able to use it correctly? And will they actually use it? Every question has its own tips and best practices. We'll list a few for each of these steps.

Do employees want to work with the solution?

You will only get a positive answer to this question if you have set clear objectives in advance. Inspiring and motivating your employees is key here. And a good story is an excellent tool for this. Where does the organization want to go? And how will this new tool help? The answer to these questions will provide the cornerstones for a clear communication plan.

Tip 1: Launch a marketing campaign

Present your story as an attractive marketing campaign, with its own logo, slogan and original name. Keep in mind that people are at the heart of the project. Choose your slogan and project name based on what you want to achieve with the new tool. Feel free to get your inspiration from other organizations and their change management campaigns.

Tip 2: Stay ahead of the gossip

Digital workplace projects are not always well received: employees can be afraid of the learning curve and they may think that the tool will make their job more difficult, or even obsolete. That's why you need a solid story. Why are we doing this? What impact will the project make? How will it help us to work more efficiently in the future? By thinking about such questions in advance, you can debunk any unjustified criticism from the start.

Tip 3: Share your story through different channels

Once your story is clear, you can gradually share it across the business. The intranet, strategy meetings and receptions are great tools for this. A ‘conflict of generations’ is often mentioned as the main reason for the failure of change projects. Typically, there are three to five generations working within any organization, each with their own preferred communication channels. If you only share your story digitally, you are likely to miss out on part of your target group. It’s much better to use a healthy mix of online and offline channels.

Tip 4: Lead by example

In addition to a good story, getting the management involved is essential to the success of this phase – and all future phases – of the change management project. Management don’t only have to communicate the objectives and benefits in a clear manner, they also have to set a good example. So it’s important that the senior management has a strong and visible position in the project.

‘Setting a good example’, however, is not solely the responsibility of the management. You also need to recruit ambassadors and ‘power users’ amongst the end users, as they will play a major role in the next phase.

Can your employees work with the solution?

This part involves setting up and rolling out an efficient training and education plan for the right target groups. The objective? To ensure that every employee feels like they can work with the new tool relatively easily.

Tip 5: Train the trainer

A tried and tested approach is the ‘train the trainer’ principle, where you choose a number of internal ambassadors or ‘power users’ who will master the tool first. They will then pass on their knowledge to their colleagues. Ambassadors or power users don’t only learn to use the tool themselves, but are also directly involved in its roll-out. They test the solution and provide feedback in an iterative process. Based on this feedback, you can adjust the project where necessary. This ensures that the needs of the end users always come first.

Tip 6: A clear plan as a yardstick

Once the project has started, it’s important to keep all stakeholders informed about the planning. When will certain tools be rolled out? Which departments will be first in line? A specific deadline will ensure that everyone remains alert and that every user has a healthy sense of urgency.

Will employees actually use the solution?

Innovators and early adopters are your main assets for promoting use in the pilot phase. After that, it is a matter of gradually increasing confidence in the solution by providing continuous support and contact points, and by sharing results. Having an efficient service desk is crucial at this stage.

Tip 7: User training should start from daily activities

Many training courses start from the perspective of the tool itself – “SharePoint training”, “Office 365 training”, etc. A better approach is to use the day-to-day tasks of employees as your starting point – “How do I create new projects, and how do I follow up on them?”. This will immediately link the new solution to concrete efficiency benefits.

You should also tailor the training materials to the role of the specific user as much as possible, because not everyone will need the same features. By focusing on what the tool can do for specific roles, you shorten the learning curve and increase the chance of a successful learning cycle.

Tip 8: Provide sufficient ‘dedicated’ resources

The introduction and roll-out of a new tool in your organization often requires a great deal of commitment from the parties involved. For certain stakeholders, such as the project manager and the ambassadors, it’s a part-time – or even full-time – job. Research shows that this is one of the most underestimated factors in change management, so it’s important that the management is aware of this.

A possible solution is to provide a (part-time) replacement, or to temporarily outsource some tasks. By providing sufficient time and space, you ensure that the quality of day-to-day work does not suffer during the project.


In the next and final blog post we explain why user adoption is a never-ending story, and we provide a short three-step exercise on how to break a giant change project down into smaller pieces. Interested? Keep reading.

Digital Workplace Event 24th of October @ Cegeka Hasselt. Hands-on event with attention for the three pillars: the bits, the bricks and the attitude! An afternoon full of concrete tips and real insightfull sessions. Participation is free for industry professionals. Register here.

Getting the digital workplace right