April 14, 2021
The Importance of User Personas in a New Work Environment
To optimize collaboration, organizations must consider the different needs and workflows of various user groups.
Over the past year, many organizations scrambled to roll out new collaboration technologies and end-user devices to enable their employees to remain productive while they worked remotely. These efforts were necessary, and they bridged a gap to keep businesses up and running during an unprecedented period. However, they often resulted in one-size-fits-all solutions that did not adequately account for the differences in how business units and individual employees use collaboration tools.
As we head into the “next normal” — a period when many people will return to offices even as hybrid and flexible work schedules remain common — it will be important to optimize collaboration environments. One way to do this is by understanding and developing end-user personas.
A persona is a concept that represents the needs of a group of users in terms of their goals and personal characteristics. Personas help to guide decisions about strategy, functionality and design. Here are four factors we consider when guiding organizations through the process of developing collaboration personas.
People: Identifying Needs and Roles
An office-based worker is going to use collaboration tools much differently than a mobile worker. An executive will have an entirely different set of needs from a worker in a contact center. These different jobs play a large role in user personas, which will, in turn, help determine which tools different users need. It’s also important for organizations to consider user adoption. Monitoring and analytics tools can help to determine which employees are using collaboration tools effectively and which may need additional training and support.
Channel: Meeting the Demands of How Users Work
Are different user groups more likely to require voice, video or virtual meetings? Are they more or less likely to engage in instant messaging and persistent chat? The answers to these questions will help organizations decide not only which platforms to provide to users but also which devices they will need to access those platforms and how to best support specific user groups.
Hardware: Finding the Right Fit
The way a particular type of user engages with collaboration technologies will influence which devices are the best fit. Most users will need smartphones, but some will also require laptops. Depending on the role, some employees and managers may even need additional monitors. Peripherals such as headsets (which are sometimes overlooked during collaboration deployments) can make a tremendous difference in user experience as well.
Work Process: Determining the Details of Optimal Work
IT decision-makers should ask users a number of questions about their work methods, including the following: Who do they work with? What devices do they use? How do they like to work with these devices? What do they actually use the devices for? Where do they work from? The answers to these questions will inform design decisions around high-level considerations such as security and networking.
The ways that employees may have interacted with collaboration environments before the pandemic have changed during the extended period of remote work over the past year. As employees begin to return to offices and hybrid environments, the way they use collaboration tools is set to change yet again. By carefully crafting user personas, organizations can enable employees to use tools more effectively and improve the user experience.