The last year and a half has been a master lesson in what it is to be human. We’ve all lived it, courage, fear, anger, boredom, frustration, anxiety, hope, care, kindness.
As a two decade marketer, and as the chief marketer for a software organization that has long made Human-Centered innovation and experiences its key differentiator, I’m convinced that the workplace has never been more overtly human. I also believe that our collective human experience has likely permanently changed the work experience and with it has brought new opportunities to many facets of work.
From Pixie-Dust to SOP
One of the things that brand marketers understand is how essential a positive emotional connection is to building successful brands and market share. For decades we’ve known, how you make people feel is everything (for more on this topic, see any episode of Mad Men).
Deeply hidden in the workplace of 2019 (and before) under the veneer of senior titles, we marketers knew there were people with feelings, making hard decisions about projects that elicited a range of emotions and that carried serious professional and personal consequences. Understanding that, and speaking to those emotions and concerns gave buyers the confidence that your company could and would help them.
More than once, I’ve worked with teams that have been surprised to learn that as important as it is to describe the functionality and deliver a superior offering for the buyers, the decision on what product or company to choose nearly always comes down to the relationship they have with your organization and how you and your solution makes them feel.
As you can imagine, those emotion focused workplace conversations evoked feelings of their own that needed to be resolved. Ultimately, once we establish how our functionality or offer would apply to the needs of the humans it would serve, we would end up in a place that really reasonated with our buyers. One peer described the effect of marketing to feelings as pixie dust. It magically worked, and everyone felt good.
Looking ahead from the workplaces that were, with the hindsight and openness that has come as a result of the pandemic, to the workplace of now, I am full of optimism for the wave of human centered work experiences ahead of us. We have a fresh opportunity to make the work experience significantly better. For those new to this way of thinking, I have some suggestions.
Human centered is about more than where your team will be sitting
With many organizations taking concrete steps towards adjusting their workplace options it’s important to realize that delivering a human-centered work experience is about more than navigating where people sit and offering flexible hours.
Coming out of the pandemic there are signs that there is a new appetite for prioritizing comprehensive work engagement that emphasize the user’s experience. In a recent article in HR Morning, The key to building better workplaces: Humanity at work they outline how human centered initiatives are the key to retaining and attracting exceptional teams and to making the workplace happier and healthier.
Human Centered Enterprise Technology Experiences
For those charged with defining enterprise software environments, what opportunities exist? To start, the tolerance for cumbersome systems and painful processes have weakened and are being replaced with a drive towards innovation and possibility. Looking beyond out-of-the-box, to meaningful customization tailored to your team and processes, is a good start. Some things to keep in mind as you evaluate your path forward:
- Enterprises and the people that make them up are unique. Enterprise software vendors can’t possibly tailor their offerings to each individual customer. Look to service firms or internal experts to provide human-centered design and creative development offerings to meet diverse enterprise needs.
- Leverage tools like Design Thinking Workshops to uncover your needs and customize the right outcome for your organization.
- Humans drive enterprises. Enterprise software needs to be built for humans.
Rethink how you are factoring empathy, understanding, and the feelings of your audience and you should see progress in replacing discomfort with delight across all your user experiences. The magical upside, making those changes demonstrates both compassion and solid business acumen and maybe, just a little bit of pixie dust.