How to Create a Modern Workplace that your Team Loves

Modern Workplace that your team loves

One of the very cool benefits in my job here as Client Success Manager at Grassroots IT, other than the privilege of partnering with a wide variety of wonderful local businesses, is the opportunity to absorb insights and get some sneak peeks into the world of our technology partners.

For example, earlier this year I saw our Datto rep take entirely too much joy in dismembering a laptop with a Gray Nicolls cricket bat, only to resurrect the shattered device almost immediately with Datto technology. A little bit dramatic? Sure! But it was an excellent demonstration of technology that can protect one of your most valuable possessions - your data.


This week, I was lucky to be invited to the Microsoft Modern Workplace Roadshow. 

“Modern Workplace”. Sounds contemporary, but what exactly does that mean, and why should we care?

Microsoft’s conceptualisation of a modern workplace centers around technologies such as Office365, Windows10 and Enterprise Mobility & Security. But it’s more than that. So much more.

It seems to be a theme around here of late, as we explored at the GrassrootsIT Small Business Download, but the modern workplace is not a shiny box with a flashing light or a swish portfolio of software applications. The modern workplace isn't just about technology, it's about the people and how we work together.

Microsoft gave some compelling reasons as to why we should pay attention to digital transformation and give ourselves and our clients the very best chance to do our level best.

  • 75 % of businesses are going through digital transformation to a modern workplace.
  • Organisations that get it right drive 20% greater levels of growth
  • 50% of businesses are failing in the Digital Transformation Mission


The focus Roadshow was very much on the people - more specifically, the Employee experience. Because, as it turns out, today’s business needs people to do a lot more than just turn up.

Quote from Laurence Vanhee

A quote from Laurence Vanhee, Chief Happiness Officer, Belgium Social Security Service


Happy staff may not necessarily always directly equate to happy customers, but for the sake of our business it’s important that our teams are engaged and committed to our client’s success.

We need to equip our staff with the systems and technology to deliver the quality outcomes that our clients expect. We must improve the mobility, flexibility and collaboration of our teams because we are all working in much more complex work structures and that is unlikely to change soon.

Like I said earlier though, it’s not just about the shiny things. It’s about our people. Staff evolve as our workplace and employer evolve. 

If we want our staff to perform to the level that our business and customers require then they must be motivatedSustained high performance is because people consciously choose to act


When we think about motivation, quite often Maslow’s tried and tested theory is front of mind, not least because it has the simple elegance of a pyramid to remind us.

Maslow's Pyramid

Maslow’s idea was that people are motivated by satisfying lower-level needs such as food, water, shelter, and physical security, before they can move on to being motivated by higher-level needs such as self-actualization. But really, when is the last time most of us were deeply concerned about food on the table or being safe from marauding invaders? (Wifi and battery are a different story!)

There is a different model that a presenter at the Roadshow shared that I found quite interesting. Not as sexy or simple as Maslow’s model but it applies to all businesses.

Self Determination Theory

Unlike Maslow’s needs, these three concepts are neither hierarchical nor sequential. They are however, foundational to all people and our ability to flourish and lift clients and colleagues alike.


… is a person’s need to feel effective at meeting every-day challenges and opportunities and feeling a sense of growth and flourishing.

To develop competence, we need to consider:

1.    Tools policies and workspaces that make it easy to be effective

This is where we start. Low hanging fruit, really.

2.    Task assignment and cultural practices

Frame goals and timelines as essential information to ensure a person’s success, rather than purely to hold people arbitrarily accountable.

3.    Voice of customer celebration and recognition

Most organisations do this in a variety of fresh and interesting ways. Most organisations do so because it’s important.

4.    Onboarding and First projects

The Onboarding process is key. Are we setting our new team mates up for success?

Sustained high performance is because people consciously choose to act. 



 … is a person’s need to perceive that he/she has choices and that he/she is, to some degree, in control of their own environment.

To promote autonomy, here are four ideas to consider:

1.    Create tools, policies and workspaces that let staff determine when and where they work.

The capabilities that technology gifts us to work flexibly are fantastic for attracting and retaining top talent.

2.    Offer the opportunity for staff to develop passion projects

I have seen global organisations such as IBM as well as smaller software houses very successfully implement policies whereby engineers are encouraged to sink their teeth into pet projects. It’s great for learning, and it’s good for business.

3.    Offer the opportunity for staff to learn from each other.

Most organisations are comprised of teams of very diverse individuals. The sharing of skills between the team, alongside healthy accountability can do wonders for not only the bottom line, but also an employee’s personal skillset, which is their job security in the modern world.



 … is people’s need to care about and be cared about by others. People love to feel that they are contributing to something greater than themselves, finding intrinsic meaning in their work.

To deepen relatedness, consider the following:

1.    Wellness Programs & Leave policies that build resilience 

Employees feel valued when they have access to health and wellness programs, have a culture and policies of team-building. Not only do employees see numerous health benefits, both current and potential employees think higher of employers who encourage resilience programs.


2.    Social Activities and Technologies that connect people.

In businesses like ours, with team spread across several countries, this is especially important to consider. It’s great to rally the team together for a night of Virtual Reality zombie eradication but, on a very real and day to day basis, the ability to use technology to interact socially with each other is key to smooth running, and the results our clients expect of us.

I have worked in some epic workplaces with the foosball tables, nap tents and extravagant kitchens and yes, it was awesome.  But aside from simply not being practical to most businesses to have the office toys, the reality is that what employees really appreciate is much simpler.

It’s nowhere near as easy, or cheap to apply attention to the core of a motivated and capable workforce, but it’s definitely worth it.

What gains can we expect when we shift our mindset from “What can I give my people to motivate them?” to “How can I satisfy my teams desire for autonomy, relatedness, and competence?” How can we set up our organisations so that our employees experience success and are wholeheartedly onboard to achieve our company’s clear and compelling mission?


Do you need assistance with streamlining your organisation’s technology so that your team can focus on the core business? Do you have teams working across various locations and need technology that encourages connectedness within the organisation? Make a time to chat with Gary about aligning your technology to the goals of your business and setting your team up for success.

Schedule a call with an IT expert at Grassroots IT


Picture of Gary Titmarsh

Gary was the previous Client Success Manager at Grassroots IT. He has worked in the IT industry for almost 20 years, in a variety of roles from systems engineer and project manager through to account manager. After gaining vast experience in global organisation IBM, Gary is Six Sigma Green Belt certified and skilled in a variety of Project Management Methodologies including Prince2 and IBM WWPMM. He is fluent in Japanese and enjoys spending time with family in Japan, participating in festivals and playing the Japanese Taiko.

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