Empower Frontline Workers with Google Workspace

Posted by Andy Serwatuk, Head of Solutions Architecture

Oct 14, 2022

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Understanding the needs of frontline workers today

Frontline workers form the backbone of our businesses and organizations. They are often the first people customers or clients connect with—the people who build the products, welcome guests and visitors, fulfill the order or answer the service call. Even though they make up 80% of the global workforce, they still have unmet technology needs. And a poorly enabled frontline can create a downward spiral of business problems:

  • Fragmented technology
  • Lost productivity and efficiency 
  • Frustrated employees leading to high turnover   
  • Poor end-customer experience & customer churn, impacting brand identity 
  • Employee workarounds & security risk

Scheduling and task management are common administrative duties for frontline teams that can become unnecessarily complex without shared tools or a clear workflow. Information evolves rapidly on the frontline, and scheduling often requires real-time collaboration between busy employees and managers.

Understaffing puts undue stress on employees and can lead to higher turnover. Overstaffing, on the other hand, increases daily labor costs and can leave employees unmotivated and bored on the job. If you want your team to work together efficiently, getting a handle on scheduling, task management and staffing is critical.

The first 2 steps to empowering and supporting your frontline

1. First, assess your current readiness start by thinking about:

  • How to become more flexible.
  • How to increase employee adoption and engagement.
  • How to empower everyone to participate.
  • How to gather more data.
  • How to keep data secure.
  • How to enhance workflows.

2. Brainstorm with teams on how to achieve:

  • Better, faster distribution of information.
  • More effective collaboration and resources management.
  • Employee wellness and burnout prevention.
  • Getting buy-in for hybrid service delivery.
  • Standardize onboarding and offboarding.

Sharing what we’ve learned

Onix runs Transformation Workshops to help teams (of all sizes, across industries) identify where any gaps currently exist. That information is then used to create a custom, turnkey solution that meets the needs of your business, and of course your frontline workers. In thinking about what your team’s readiness looks like today, you’ll want to take an honest look at what your frontline is doing well, where there is room for improvement and how other members of your team could also participate in making workflows easier, more efficient and productive.

If you’re thinking that your company could benefit from a Transformation Workshop, here are some additional insights that may assist with the process and make the transition as smooth as possible:

First, apply leadership leverage

In our workplace transformations, we’ve discovered that leadership support offers more than a force multiplier on every action you take; it often makes these improvements possible. It’s worth spending a little time and energy up front to line up support for any change management you take. For instance, in working with Whirlpool, we coordinated with C-level execs through the CIO and other officers from the start. We also engaged the help of Whirlpool’s Operational Excellence, Communications and other leadership teams to ensure buy-in from multiple angles.

This enabled Whirlpool to make the most of the tools that Google put at their disposal. Now let’s talk about how to target potential improvements unique to your teams.

Set the stage for big improvements

Work doesn’t happen in a vacuum, so it’s important to provide Google Workspace end users with a space where they can meet to openly and candidly discuss how they can use the toolset in real life. Set up a brainstorming session that gives them the opportunity to take a fresh look at the Google toolset, learn its capabilities and apply it to how they work and what is most important to them. This approach fosters what Google calls “10x thinking.” Look for ideas that will inspire and catalyze big changes. Also, remind everyone that they are empowered to make those changes. 

Go for simple but big wins—in two parts

One of the beautiful things about Google Workspace is that it gives users the flexibility to make the tools their own. Each department probably has a slightly different take on each use case. Harvest these. In your initial brainstorming session, share simple but big-impact process wins that will pull more value from your Google Drive, Docs, Sites, G+ and Hangouts in their business operations. You’ll be surprised at the stories you hear. I’ve come out of these sessions with as many as 83 different use cases for improvement. 

The second brainstorm session gets more granular. Here, we move on to what we call advanced cases. In this session, we gather a more specialized group of power users and developers to examine things like Apps Script to integrate and disseminate processes across Google tools: Cloud Platform for innovations in storage, sharing, security and collaboration, and Maps and Google Search. The process is the same, but the result is a much deeper cut on new ideas.

Finally, at the end of each section, have the group prioritize your ideas for quick, high-value wins, and select one idea to move forward into a prototype.

Create prototype solutions using Design Thinking

In thinking about how to simplify work and boost productivity, Google focuses on making tools that incorporate Design Thinking methodology. To get yourself and your team into a Design Thinking mindset, start with the three “E”s:

  • Empathy: Keep the user in mind. By staying focused on the people who use the solution, you are more likely to come up with solutions that work for them and that they will adopt. Listen to their stories, look at the actual tools they work with, get inside their heads. 
  • Expansive Thinking: This is that 10x thinking again. Don’t be limited, and don’t limit others. Red tape, barriers and even cultural obstructions are not an issue in this environment. The only source of big ideas is big thinking. 
  • Experimentation: Think of this as play—but play to see if it works. In this phase of your ideation process, you get to the actual prototyping. With Google, it can be simpler to create a beta version for a few selected individuals to try before developing for rollout. Gather data and feedback from that core group, then decide if it makes sense to move your idea forward. If not, your sunk costs are low, and it’s easy to kill it or tweak it.

Now it’s your turn

Small projects can result in colossal improvements. Remember, Gmail and Google Drive are now used by over a billion people worldwide every month, but each started as small projects by individuals and teams. This is where rollout can be critical—even world-changing. Onix can help you turn your team’s ideas into can’t-imagine-life-without-it staples of productivity. Contact us now to get started.

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Andy Serwatuk, Head of Solutions Architecture

Andy Serwatuk is the Head of Solutions Architecture at Onix with over 20 years of experience delivering innovative IT, SaaS, and cloud services for businesses. He holds a College Diploma in Networking and Hardware and specializes in helping organizations leverage information technology to improve connection, collaboration, and operational efficiency. Andy's experience is unparalleled because it's multifaceted. He has worked in help desk and datacenter admin roles, as well as backup specialist positions, and as a disaster recovery technician. He now manages a full solutions architecture team that assists organizations with evaluating the value and benefit of switching to Google Cloud platform. Andy is based in Toronto, Canada with his wife and 2 kids. When he's not helping teams simplify and secure their operations, you can find him playing with a 3D printer, playing board games, or 3D printing board game components.

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