Going back to the basics to build digitally inclusive workplaces

Published on
11 August 2023
Emma Earl
Emma Earl
Managing Consultant

Meet Tracy.

Tracy is a continuous improvement officer in IT for a large utilities company.

She initiated core digital skills training for her organisation after finding her colleagues frustrated by their abilities in Microsoft 365.

And she realised there was a lot she didn’t know herself.

“We were all using tools like Teams daily, but self-taught.”

You assume you are using software well until someone shows you differently – it’s amazing the blind spots you get around some of the basics”.

Zoom and Teams might feel like verbs now, but there’s no shame in refreshing our confidence in common applications.

In the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations integrated software tools rapidly to enable remote working.

In the rush to get everyone active online, we had little time to benchmark skills and to design and customise training to truly meet user needs before technology roll-out.

Now, the widespread use of digital technology at work can mask critical differences in proficiency. We are all so busy using the tools that we have little time to ask what’s new and what don’t we know.

Big tech’s software arms race also plays its part. The rate of change in the software market can be a disincentive to keeping pace. Why bother updating your skills if they’ll be made redundant by the next software version?

But the price of not upskilling impacts both organisations and individuals. RMIT and Deloitte Access Economics estimate the cost of digital skills gaps among existing workers in large Australian businesses is $3.1 billion per year (2023). At a personal level, not updating your digital skills has financial, productivity, job quality and career satisfaction costs that are difficult to quantify.

An active digital skills learning program helps people navigate their workspaces better, connect with others, and co-invest in the tech learning journey.

In an era of DIY upskilling online, customised programs can complement off-the-shelf training. Diversifying our training also helps challenge systemic inequalities in digital skills within organisations. Individuals who were not employed or in a supportive organisational environment during the pandemic may have missed its novel learning opportunities and could benefit from targeted digital skills development (Papageorgiou 2023). There are also intergenerational, socio-economic, and learning style differences in both the uptake of e-learning and how we develop the confidence and competence to use software applications.

It can work, but for not necessarily for everyone.

For Tracy, taking a whole-of-organisation approach to refreshing core digital skills been positive, inclusive, and supportive.

“The world is changing. Beyond process improvements, our technology and software skills are an integral part of how we improve as a workforce.”

The feedback and gratitude we received for a concept that seemed so simple is rewarding – it tells me that we are helping our people to be more confident and prepared for the future”.

Preparing your people change starts well before go-live. Find out how Escient can help your organisation understand its blind spots and build confidence in uncertainty.
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