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How to drive remote workforce technology adoption

Brian Jones

Remote collaborative work, alongside with the technology and culture surrounding it, will be around for a while. Analysts predict that managing remote workers and the accompanying technologies will be key business drivers through to 2024.

But technology will make remote work easier only if you can get users to consistently adopt it. How do you change attitudes, behaviours, and work habits so that users will ditch legacy solutions and embrace new technologies?

Technology adaption - what's been tried already 

Organisational change management, communications, live training, e-Learning and contests are all ubiquitous parts of technical transformations. The truly great change managers are adept at weaving together all these along with well-conceived deployment plans and tailored, user-friendly workflows, to drive adoption.

However, these change techniques assume that a remote workforce can be engaged, developed and managed in the same ways as an in-office workforce. Recent remote working experiences (children, pets and other challenges) have proven this to be a faulty assumption. The reality is that each adult will make their own decisions around which tool is best for the job at hand – and that may or may not be the organisation’s latest technical solution.

The next tool in the change management toolbox is good old executive sponsorship, a bromide which far too often results simply in project funding and a few email announcements. The grim reality is that, while execs may provide general approval of technology transformations, they may not readily perceive them as improving the business. Improving the business – in measurable ways – is how managers at all levels are assessed. Compelling workers to use what is perceived as ‘your application’ is probably not part of their assessment. So, how do you overcome this?

Focus on the business 

Anything at scale that lowers costs, improves performance, decreases risk and saves time will likely get sustained executive attention, because these are the performance areas where managers are assessed. With performance as the focus, you are better positioned to enlist execs to drive user behaviours, which in turn will drive adoption. Your challenge as a change manager is to demonstrate to your organisation the ways that using this technology will improve the business in measurable ways. Doing so turns passive executive sponsorship into management imperative – and that imperative helps drive adoption.

Though it’s known by many names – business impact, measurable business outcomes, ‘the why’, business results, and success measures – these monikers all amount to performance focus, as opposed to technology focus. The takeaway? Focus on how technology can improve measurable performance at organisational, workgroup and individual levels.

Where to begin 

Start by identifying the pain points in your organisation. In my experience, legal operations have four areas that are critical: time, cost, risk and agility. If you can use your technology transformation to tackle two or more pain points, you can go beyond passive executive sponsorship to management imperative.

Let’s look at two examples – time and security:

Time - It is literally money, for both law firms and in-house legal counsel. Determine what time savings a technology transformation can deliver for your organisation, its functions, workgroups and users. Months after a rollout, one iManage customer said: “Trying to find content in our previous environment was a nightmare. It wasn’t properly structured so that content could be quickly located. Sometimes documents couldn’t be found at all.”

In this case, “quickly locating” content was the challenge. This customer ultimately realised an annualised time-savings of 240 hours per user – $4m USD in productivity – by simply improving their search capabilities.

Security – Safeguarding sensitive documents is integral to professional services businesses. Here is an example of a security goal using Share, an iManage solution which allows secure document sharing with clients and third parties:

Implement inside of the document management workflow the ability to protect 100% of sensitive documents shared outside of the organisation by the end of Q3. We will measure this outcome using the percentage of iManage Share links compared to the number of ordinary email attachments.

You could make this security performance outcome more granular by applying it to targeted functions, workgroups and even users. An iManage customer saved $60k USD by implementing iManage Share within its document workflows.


So, when trying to push user adoption over the top, which ways of expressing tech initiatives do you think will garner the most managerial support? Will it be a new application that allows users to search faster, or the ability to increase productivity by $4m? Will it be an application that allows users to securely share outside of the business, or a tool which will immediately save the business $60k?

Assuming solid technology and other change management capabilities are already present, managerial muscle – or business imperative – is critical to driving remote workforce technology adoption. To get business imperative, you need to relate the technological transformation to outcomes that improve the business.

For more information on how iManage customers have successfully done this, read iManage’s Total Economic Impact Study.

This article first appeared in LPM

About the author

Brian Jones

Brian Jones is the Senior Director, Customer Adoption at iManage.