Authored by Heather Barstow, Senior Manager, KPMG Customer and Lucy Pringle, Manager, KPMG People Consulting.

As countries across the world begin to ease restrictions in response to COVID-19, discussions of ‘phased returns to work’ crowd the news. All of a sudden, designing a ‘new reality’ which balances the triad of safety, productivity, and employee experience, is a challenging prospect facing many leaders.

This pandemic has meant that in such a short space of time, customer demands and organisations’ ways of operating have shifted more than in previous decades; and employees’ wants, needs and expectations have shifted with them. In order to survive this period and to maintain relationships with customers and employees, organisations must respond with speed and innovation like never before. They will require not one, but many, permutations of employee experiences that allow a phased transition to the ‘new normal’, and ensure a market leading customer experience is retained though-out. Design Thinking should be front and centre of the toolkit for driving this.

Design Thinking focuses on deeply understanding your users (whether customers or employees), and taking an experimental approach to rapidly develop, iterate and roll-out solutions. It is an invaluable approach in times like this, when the external environment is ever-evolving, and empathy towards employees and customers is critical to design. In addition to this, Design Thinking balances human-centricity with a focus on feasibility (technically possible) and viability (financially possible) of solutions, which is critical given the extreme time and cost pressure facing so many organisations.

A typical Design Thinking approach for an employee experience follows a number of phases from understanding through to delivery at a rapid pace:

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Are you ready to face this challenge?

This is undoubtedly an extremely challenging time, but those who act quickly and design the future with their customers and employees front and centre, will be best placed to survive and grow in a very different world to the one we knew before.

This is also an unprecedented opportunity to engage employees in designing an experience that can inspire, engage and motivate like never before. The ways of working and behaviours embedded now will no doubt last far into the future.

Design Thinking is the tool that can help you do this at pace, whilst balancing employees’ needs with the operational challenges facing your business. Experimentation is key to success – explore, ideate, test and learn, and don’t be afraid to fail on the way. So, where we are navigating uncertain and unchartered waters – why not give this tried and tested approach a go to help you design your New Reality?


Further reading:

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