The days of the traditional nine to five work routine are numbered. Technology is fueling the digital workplace evolution – drastically changing the ways businesses operate, and how employees get things done.
The digital workplace does not rely on employees being in a single physical space or location. It is connected 24/7, and provides instant access to the information and tools employees need to do their job well. It is rife with opportunities, allowing businesses to rethink traditional processes, increase efficiency, fast-track innovation, and reduce costs. For the workforce, the digital workplace can mean higher levels of engagement, better collaboration, improved productivity, and greater flexibility.
The digital workplace, however, is not just about the tools and technologies – it intelligently brings together applications, information, and collaboration in a context specific to an individual employee’s role, location, and tasks.
Pivoting to a digital workplace doesn’t have to be difficult. Start with the following:
Assess your current state
Where is your organisation now? A detailed understanding of your current state will help you realise what needs doing to achieve your desired outcomes. For example, your current state might be one where your business is siloed – your future state, in this case, may be to create an organisation that is more open and transparent, where people share their knowledge and experiences. To achieve this, you might need to introduce a collaboration tool where people can engage with others and solve problems faster.
Develop a strategy
Align your digital workplace strategy with clearly defined business goals and technology priorities. This is about identifying how your digital workplace initiative will deliver business value. For example, you may decide one of your goals is to ensure your workforce is aligned and engaged with your business priorities. This might mean you need to establish a real-time communications platform, such as a mobile application that pushes out important updates to employees.
Select your tools and technologies
Choose the tools and technologies that are right for your business – i.e. solutions that support your digital workplace strategy. Ideally, these will be low-cost, intuitive, cross-platform, and user-friendly. Avoid expensive proprietary software and opt for a SaaS alternative with a public API. Salesforce, for example, can be plugged into hundreds of other applications.
Manage the change
Strive for a pervasive and ubiquitous digital workplace. Provide the necessary training and communication to your employees. Build a clear narrative around why the change is happening, what the organisation’s hoping to achieve, and if/how it will affect people’s day-to-day activities.
Establish a set of performance metrics to track progress and measure success against your digital workplace strategy.
The digital workplace, however, is only one part of the equation. It is the digital employee experience that drives the strategy, and ultimately the success.
The benefits of a positive digital employee experience may include:
- A more productive and social way of working
- The ability to attract and retain top talent, including millennials
- Intelligent technology that adapts to the context of your workforce
- A more engaging user experience
- Always-on, secure and cross-platform mobile working
- Cloud-ready optimisation of your digital platforms and tools
- Anywhere access to the right information and analytics
- Responsive design and seamless integration with your back-end systems
According to PWC’s Millennials at Work report, 41% of millennials prefer to communicate electronically at work rather than face to face or over the telephone. They also routinely use their own technology at work and 75 percent believe that access to the right technology makes them more effective at work. Unfortunately, legacy systems and paper-based activities still flourish. Hours each day are wasted working around broken processes or struggling to find the information that’s needed. All this adds up to a measurable impact on the bottom line, and the success of the business.
Employees – particularly millennials – desire technologies that are seamless, cross-platform, and user-friendly, enabling them to improve productivity and efficiency. Having access to files, people and data mean employees spend less time searching for emails and logging tickets, and more time doing higher value work. When all the data, files, and people are a few clicks away, employees can work more effectively, which in turn boosts retention.
In our mobile-first world, it’s rare to find employees who don’t own a smartphone or use it regularly on the job. Therefore, being able to perform work tasks on mobile devices is no longer a nice-to-have, rather a critical priority. Beyond mobile, technologies that empower employees to collaborate in real time can have a tremendous impact. While email isn’t likely to disappear completely anytime soon, progressive businesses are increasingly tapping into tools that boost productivity through better collaborative capabilities – for example, Slack.
The business landscape is getting smarter and faster all the time as new technologies emerge, and pivoting to a digital workplace that provides outstanding and digital-centric employee experiences will place your business in good stead. Empowering your people to work smarter is not only fundamental to growth and competitiveness, but also in continuing to attract and retain the talent that drives success.
Most companies shouldn’t have to start from scratch. You may be further along than you think. But even if you do decide that a significant tech investment is needed, the benefits increasingly outweigh the costs.
As the workplace continues to evolve, and employee expectations shift, organisations that do not embrace the digital workplace risk falling behind.
Content marketer, blogger, author and tech geek.