Keeping both your employees and customers satisfied may seem like a tough trade-off. Especially in an era of customer-centricity, employees tend to come in second. However, the newest trends reveal that it may be time to reconsider this strategy.

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Is the customer really king?

According to Gartner, two-thirds of marketing managers are primarily competing on customer experience (CX), with the outlook of exclusively competing on CX within the next two years. However, only 22 percent argue that their customer experience focus translates into exceeded customer expectations. What is going wrong?

The discrepancy between anticipated and actual customer expectations demonstrates that “the customer is king” principle excludes a critical variable, the employee. Leading companies are recognizing the link between employee experience (EX) and customer experience. At the same time, they acknowledge that the new workforce has become more digital, changes their jobs at a faster pace and seeks continuous opportunities for growth. 


In an attempt to remain competitive, companies need to recognize the newest trends, which show that by 2020, 30 percent of organization’s competitive advantage will lie in the ability to reshape the modern workplace experience (WX) by utilizing digital technologies.

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It is time for a paradigm shift. It is time to redefine the workplace!

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What is workplace experience?

Workplace experience is a holistic concept that combines aspects of technology, operations, culture, and employee experience to drive cost efficiencies, productivity and growth. At its core, WX focuses on combining two main trends: employee experience and the digital workplace

Employee experience drives profitability and staff retention. Studies show that highly engaged workforces are 21 percent more profitable than those with poor engagement. What's more, companies can more easily attract talent through a strong employer brand. Unsurprisingly, those deciding to disregard employee experience will lose the war of talent and fight lower levels in productivity, staff retention, and loyalty.

Additionally, the digital environment requires businesses to adopt digital workplaces. However, few are ready. By 2020, only 25 percent of companies will have the needed digital ability to enable a truly digital workplace including tools such as virtual collaboration. What now? 

Both trends give rise to three challenges that companies are bound to experience within the next two years: intuitive experience, liquid productivity, and immersive real estate. Each challenge involves both the employee experience and the digital workplace, thus addressing the most urgent needs of future workplace experience.

Three main challenges of workplace experience

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1. Intuitive experience

The health and fulfillment of the individual take center-stage within the intuitive experience. Companies are increasingly seeking ways to improve their employee’s mental health and concepts such as mindfulness are gaining popularity in- and outside the workplace. 

In addition, identifying moments that matter within employees’ professional and private life will become increasingly vital to create personalized experiences. From the introduction of standing workstations, to the birth of a child, analytics like survey data and social listening will help to identify moments that matter.   

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Finally, employees search for companies with purpose-driven identities that give them a sense of belonging. Mercer found that 75 percent of fulfilled employees work at companies with a strong sense of purpose that mirror their personal values. Besides, employees are looking for continuous support in both career and personal growth. 

In fact, Gen Z is two-and-a-half times more likely to remain five years or longer at a company, which matches their skillset with challenging and meaningful work.

2. Liquid productivity

Liquid Productivity focuses on using a digital work environment to connect individuals seamlessly. The liquid workforce seeks autonomy, co-creation and connects employees with a diverse skill set. Hence, collaboration between teams remains essential. 


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The core of a liquid workforce: the right team at the right moment

What defines a liquid workforce? What are the differences between the workforce then and the workforce now? And where do you even start? Martijn Smit and Geert Batterink dive into the ins and outs of a liquid workforce.

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Smart systems help employees engage and therefore increase relationship building, ultimately driving collaboration, creativity, and productivity. Examples are location-enabled devices, Skype-optimized networks and one-touch conferencing. As a result, meetings become more effective, and the workforce can be planned through predictive behavior. In terms of productivity, an agile workforce can deliver its products to the market three times faster than a non-agile team.

3. Immersive real estate

Immersive real estate focuses on the area around the employees, the workspace. Topics of interest are open office spaces, acoustics, air quality, and temperature. Especially millennials assign high value to their workspace quality. 70 percent would make various trade-offs, including longer commutes and working for a lesser known company, to ensure a better workspace.

The Internet of Things (IoT), will enable an attractive immersive real estate. For example, smart sensors will empower the workforce to have insights on energy transition and waste resources, driving the sustainable footprint. 


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How technology is making the future office smart and sustainable

If hunter-gatherers would hop into a time travel machine and exit today, they would be in shock. Whereas we used to 'work' primarily outdoors, the new reality is that we spend most of our working lives indoors. The question remains: How can we evolve the physical workplace experience to make it a happy, productive and sustainable place for employees?

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An ecosystem of innovation players driving workplace innovation together

Innovation efforts are most fruitful when people collaborate. To solve the three challenges in workplace experience, Accenture, ISS, and partners have joined forces to kick-off the School of Workplace for a second time. The School of Workplace is a collaboration between startups and corporates, which aims at creating innovative solutions for improving the workplace experience. 

Following the three main challenges, we will scout the most promising startups in workplace innovation and connect them to our partnering corporates. As a result, our program enables startups to test their innovative ideas, ultimately assessing the impact on workplace experience. 

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We are ready, are you?

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By creating an ecosystem of innovation players, consisting of startups, corporates, and innovators, we can leverage each other’s knowledge and tackle the workplace challenge together. We are ready, are you?

Are you interested in joining the ecosystem?

If you are interested in joining the School of Innovation or in receiving more information, please contact Féline Mollerus.

To keep up to date with the School of Innovation and learn more about the Workplace Challenge visit us here.

This article was written in collaboration with Liz Pfeffer

Féline Mollerus

Junior Digital Consultant – Accenture Interactive

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