More than three months after lockdown sparked a rush to work from home, a trickle of people are returning to offices, and businesses are having to again consider their working practices; at Mars it’s all about ground-up transformation.

Digital adaptation was thrust upon many companies and their approach will have dictated how successful, or otherwise, they have been, according to Alistair Health, people analytics lead at Mars, the petfood to snack business.

“As experts, as people who operate in the realms of digital transformation, we have a duty not just to plan digital transformation from a tool perspective, but [to consider] how we think about the behaviours that those tools drive, how we think about beliefs behind digital transformation,” he told London’s recent Digital Transformation Conference.

The move to working from home was sudden, with many people doing this for the first time and the support structures have tended to be perfunctory and top-down: Heath described a typical scenario in which emails advised staff at home what new tools were being used – Microsoft Teams, Zoom or whatever – followed by more pointing them towards generic training videos. And staff were then pretty much left to make it work.

“All tools are great, but what is really key to ensuring success is the behaviours that you try to encourage in terms of ways of working,” Heath said. “And it’s a very different discussion from which tools you deploy but it's a vital part of any digital transformation.”

Mars works on change using the ADKAR model, which highlights the need for awareness of the need for change, the desire to support change, knowledge of how to change, ability to demonstrate skills and behaviours, and reinforcement to make the change stick.

If Heath’s scenario is widespread, substantially more effort on the part of businesses if the new ways of working are to succeed.

“You get awareness, and you get knowledge,” he pointed out. “But in terms of the ADKAR change management process, you’ve just stopped.” There’s no focus on the desire or ability never mind the reinforcement.

There’s an argument that desire may not have been such an issue, initially at least, as many people actually wanted to work from home because it was safer and the focus was more on ability.

“Three months on, the question around desire is coming back: when people go back to offices or we settle down into this ‘new normal’ – whatever that is – how do you get people to desire actively changing their role with digital rather than just being forced into change and settling into something new.”

For more, read WARC’s report: For Mars, COVID highlights the need for ‘ground-up’ digital transformation.

Sourced from WARC