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Affordances & Rituals in the workplace Pt1

Posted 19th April 2016 | Category: CustomerExperience

Introducing Affordances and Rituals

How can companies make it easier for their staff to focus on what really matters to drive organisational performance on a daily basis?

Affordances and Rituals help to clarify the tension between efforts to recognise which policies, processes and procedures can be simplified and streamlined to emphasize speed, flexibility, convenience and ease of use, and which elements of the job can be used to build motivating and empowering relationships between employees, customers and the organisation. We'll take a look at Affordances first and then address Rituals in a second blog posting.

Affordances allow employees to work more efficiently

Affordances are a concept that comes from the design world, they are cues that help us to know what to do next, they make objects and technology in our environment intuitive, easy to understand and easy to use. They help us to know how to use the handle on a door to open it and find an exit, they use familiar icons and functions to help us to navigate digital devices. Apple is famous for building great affordances into all their products and services.

Good design of systems and processes in the work environment means that they are highly intuitive, easy to master, effective and efficient in delivering performance. Complex tasks are simplified and become a joy rather than a headache for employees. Of course regulatory compliance and many operating procedures are difficult to change but often the way work is structured can improve the way things get done.

Technology has revolutionised our productivity but we also see an increase in clutter and information overload distracting us from being more effective in managing our workload. Time management has become one of our greatest challenges so we embrace any improvements that help us to focus on the priorities that really matter.

The organisational environment can be designed in a ways that make it easier for employees to do their job. This includes good infrastructure and technology, clear job roles, structured career paths, training and feedback, clear documentation and helpful support systems. Marginal gains in many areas can save time, money and improve the employee experience. This all contributes to making it easy to be customer focused while managing an increasing variety of tasks and volume of work.

User experience consultants apply these principles to new products and services but applying Affordances to workflow design and customer interactions is now more important than ever for employees. Automation and technology play a part and so does organisational design. If tasks and team structures are intuitive, employees will have the reserves to work well together, make better decisions, be more productive and less overwhelmed.

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