- Companies are taking advantage of new technologies, which is triggering an organizational shift from the physical to the digital workplace.
- In the same way that design plays a key role in the physical workplace, building a digital workplace requires deep understanding and a strategic approach.
- These 6 key elements demonstrate what digital workplaces must have in order to enable people to do their best work.
Companies can no longer ignore the need to shift from the physical to the digital workplace. The explosion of digital and technological innovations have radically changed the way we work and our expectations about work.
As a recent ebook phrased it, “Even for businesses that have little to do with technology, tech is at the center and the forefront.”
TalentCulture recently put together the ebook “Digital Workplaces that Really Work”, which examines the key elements that digital workplaces must have in order to enable people to do their best work. Shifting our understanding of the workspace to encompass the digital realm requires not only the adoption of emerging technologies, but also a deep understanding of how people work today and will work in the future.
According to TalentCulture, “an effective digital workplace acts as a nervous system that offers a full spectrum of functions. It’s a way to empower today’s workplace — from organization to workforce and from clients to collaborating entities — to communicate and check in; to access, share, and research; to archive information; and to work with anyone, anywhere, on any screen, at any time. To get things done.”
The digital workplace needs to be agile, user-friendly, customizable, and scalable:
- Agile, because it needs to support the needs of workers as they arise.
- User-friendly because compatibility “is as much emotional as a financial or functional issue for most people”.
- Customizable because that’s what will encourage people to actually engage with the digital workplace.
- Scalable because the goal should be for the business to never stop growing.
Work begins and ends with people
Though tech is at the center and forefront, humans remain at the heart of work. Which is why companies should focus on building digital workplaces that provide a differentiated employee experience.
When building a digital workplace, companies need to take into consideration the fact that today’s workforce is more diverse than ever, and in ways it’s never been before. There are multiple generations at work together, workers are working from a variety of locations — the office, coworking spaces, home, hotels, coffee shops — there are different types of workers — full-time, freelancers, contractors — and companies are hiring talent from all across the globe.
With the above in mind, it’s important to create an experience that will engage employees, regardless of where they are working from. A well-designed digital workplace will enable teams to communicate, collaborate, and function at peak productivity, regardless of space and time.
These digital workplaces are created strategically, and companies need to first identify the gaps in their workforce before they start building a solution from scratch.
So, what are the factors that play a key role in building an effective digital workplace?
TalentCulture identified 6 vital pillars.
1. Knowledge and Work Product Management
Knowledge is today’s most valuable business currency. Because of this, the digital workplace should provide users with a secure library where they can access, share, and edit documents and information (from policies and procedures to employee handbooks and information on compliance).
This library should have the capability to “mirror departments, projects, teams, or divisions across an organization,” and make it easy for users to search and find the information they are looking for.
2. Communication and Community
An effective digital workplace is one that will enable workers to communicate through different platforms and methods.
“Employees should be able to connect across any platform with the same capabilities and functions — whether it’s during informal moments, across groups, or at formal meetings and conferences.”
These platforms should make it easy for workers to effectively communicate despite logistical, social, and cultural hurdles. This means that your choice of communication platforms should take into consideration factors such as time zones, languages, and the dynamics of those involved.
“Optimal communication is also about galvanizing community, and empowering “voices” within the organization to express themselves and share news via microblogs, forums, chats, groups, etc.”
The future of work is very much about collaboration. And while in the physical workplace it can be easy to collaborate, “in the digital space, collaboration needs to be carefully designed.”
The digital workplace should be easy to navigate and provide a seamless experience for all collaborators. Keep in mind that collaboration goes beyond file sharing; this element of the digital workplace should also incorporate virtual areas for workgroups and teams, provide access to necessary tools and resources, and make it easy for team members to manage tasks and projects.
4. Social engagement
This element is key to drive employee engagement and keep staff aligned with organizational goals. It’s also a key component to build and nurture company culture.
“When employees can share opinions and knowledge, offer comments, craft their own profile, and publish their own content, they act as influencers within their own sphere.”
More importantly, social engagement can provide organizations with valuable insights and feedback that can help the company implement ideas that will resonate with its talent pool. This is a huge advantage for companies as the war for talent is expected to intensify.
Security is one of the top barriers of technological adoption. For a digital workplace to deliver the desired results, companies need to implement powerful security features.
“Key security features include user authentication and identity assurance, data loss prevention and disaster recovery, sophisticated encryptions, and the ability to set rules on content and use. Further, employee data and privacy need to be fully protected.”
6. Support, Flexibility, and Growth
The digital workplace is not a destination, it will be an on-going journey as new technologies emerge and worker needs change.
While the digital workplace should be flexible, it should also be able to support and accommodate solutions that are already working well and delivering desired results. The digital workplace needs to be able “to integrate with existing applications, widgets, and processes, while having the ability to step in and offer a replacement function if necessary.
The digital workplace has the ability to centralize knowledge management, drive collaboration, boost productivity, optimize workflows, deliver a positive employee experience, engage employees, and retain top talent.
But in order for it to actually deliver on the above, the digital workplace must be crafted to a company’s specific needs. There is no one-size fits all for digital workplaces; companies that are able to identify what employees want and need to do their best work will be the ones that are able to build a digital workplace that is effective and supports company goals.