In the past years, we’re all witnesses of dramatic changes not only to the way of how we work but also where we work. The workplace isn’t just a physical space anymore. Thanks to the artificial intelligence and cloud-based services it evolved to a digital environment where employees have instant access to anything they need.
What is a digital workplace? A digital workplace is a digital environment designed to align employees, technology and business processes for improving employee productivity and engagement. A digital workplace is a compliment to the physical workplace includes all of the software, apps, platforms, and devices that employees use for doing their tasks whether they are working at home, in a cafe or in the office.
All of the technologies and tools included in the digital workplace help in removing the geographic barriers for continuous collaboration as well as making the needed information accessible at any time.
For a digital workplace to be successful it needs to provide a secure environment and an exceptional experience for the employees. Every digital workplace is unique and should be designed according to the company’s needs.
There are numerous online tools such as collaboration or chat platforms, documentation platforms, CRMs, task-management apps, etc, designed to help us worm smarter, better, and faster. However, if the company isn’t careful in picking out the ones that are efficient, the employees will end up working with tools that are time-consuming and not effective.
What is Considered a Digital Workplace?
The digital workplace consists of, but is not limited to the following:
1. Efficient information platforms – cloud file sharing platforms
2. Creating a paperless office by having online file archives
3. Software for booking conference and meeting rooms
4. Tools for video conferencing
5. Online calendars that can be shared with numerous employees and synced across multiple platforms or accounts
6. Features for single sign-on, or apps for secure storing of passwords
7. Platforms for easy collaboration among the teams such as instant messages
8. Tasks management platforms
Benefits of Implementing a Digital workplace
When the digital workplace strategy is executed properly it improves employee engagement, boosts efficiency, interaction, and improves the whole employee experience.
1. Improving the employee experience – Having an effective digital workplace simplifies the workflow and enables the employees to be more flexible. Otherwise, searching through multiple apps and systems, entering passwords and sign-ins, is time-consuming and energy-draining.
2. Better security and protection from data breaches – Given that working remotely is becoming more and more popular, the potential for security breaches is pretty big. A digital workplace is offering single sign-on and fewer passwords for remembering for a secure environment.
Additionally, a digital workplace is allowing the IT department to have a complete view of all of the users, files, network traffic, then allowing access to the employees based on their job roles, activities, devices, etc. This way it helps in improving security by recognizing external and internal threats long before they happen. Especially with the advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence your company, data can be protected from various hacks and malware.
3. Flexibility – A digital workplace offers not just the flexibility for employees to choose where and when to work, but also the flexibility for choosing any type of technology that will keep the employees more engaged. The companies can embrace new technologies as part of the digital workplace without worrying about its security or user experience.
4. Increased efficiency – These types of workplaces help in removing the barriers for accessing the needed data, files, and resources. Thus increasing the flow of information across different departments in the company allowing the employees to make their critical decisions a lot more smoother. Working efficiently leads to more productive and happier employees.
5. Lower costs – Implementing proper digital workplace helps in reducing the operational costs (utilities, rent, etc), as employees can work whenever they want without coming to the office, then the potential for going paperless since employees can find the needed documents on the cloud storage, sending reports, etc.
6. Effective digital workplace Attracts new talent and increases employee retention.
7. It is easier to analyze all of the data as well as to measure the effectiveness of all the processes.
Drawbacks of Implementing a Digital Workplace
1. As the main drawback is that while virtual collaboration is encouraged, social interaction suffers since employees are not physically in the office collaborating with each other.
2. Storing all critical information on remote servers in some industries can create certain security issues. Also, remembering passwords and usernames for different tools it’s time-consuming, and can lead to security risks; many people keep their passwords on sticky notes.
3. People usually work in several different teams for several different projects. Having to switch between many different platforms and tools and asking which tool was for which project increases the stress levels and decreases productivity.
How to Create and Implement a Digital Workplace Strategy?
Creating a digital workplace strategy requires proper research and identifying the technology needs of the company and the employees. The sooner the companies implement a digital workplace, the easier it will be to boost productivity, innovation, and collaboration.
A digital workplace is based on the use of technologies, its functionalities, whether it fits the tasks at hand, and what is the employees’ experience of those digital tools. However, it requires upfront planning of how these tools will affect the company’s processes. When acquiring new digital tools, you need to consider the following:
1. Before purchasing new digital tools, survey your employees and do your own research – Both survey and research will help you in choosing the best options with the best functionalities. Even after you purchase certain tools, you need to continue your research so you can be aware of other opportunities for improvement.
2. Assess the need for purchasing new tools – Don’t just acquire tools just because they are popular; it might not work well with your processes. For example, it might allow the employees to finish certain tasks faster, but if it takes longer for locating the tool, the net gain would be negative. You need to assess whether the new tool has new improved functionalities, or you already have a similar tool that is doing the same job. Think about your employee’s needs so you won’t implement a redundant tool. It’s going to be just a burden and time-consuming for them since they will be confused about which tool to use.
3. Train your employees on how to use the tools – Present all of the tools to your employees. Help them to understand why each one of the tools is used, and how it can help them in working more effectively by no wasting time in broken communication. Create a document where employees can have easy access to all of the applications they will use the most. Make sure that all of the tutorials are accessible at any time; you can even include video tutorials.
4. Every tool or platform needs to have a clear purpose – By knowing the exact purpose of a tool or platform, employees can efficiently select the one that fits the tasks at hand. For example, which platform is for communication, for meetings, which tool is for managing workflows or recap essential information, etc.
5. Every employee needs to have inclusive access to the tools connected with specific projects – This way they will be well-informed about all comments, status updates, conversations or documents. Don’t let your employees to constantly ask for access.
6. Make research if allowing the employees to use their self-procured software will boost their efficiency – A lot of times due to the lack of awareness of certain tools, employees use their own self-procured tools to complete their common tasks. However, this practice can cause confusion among the employees regarding which of the available tools is the best one. To avoid redundancy of your toolset, make sure your employees are well-informed and using the tools provided by the company.
7. Reduce all of the redundant tools – Make sure to evaluate your tools individually and as a whole toolset from time to time; to see which tool is not efficient anymore. The evaluation should show you the usage and effectiveness of the tools, are employees adopting them easily, how engaged they are, etc.
8. Implementing an app for password managing – Having one official app for storing, sharing, and managing passwords helps in keeping all critical data secure.
Lastly, the IT department should be aware of all emerging technologies and practices, implement them when possible, and update the existing ones.
Digital workplace vs. Intâ€‹ranet? A digital workplace is not just a fancy name for the intranet. An intranet is a private network designed for communication only for the people who have access. Whereas the digital workplace is bringing the intranet of the company together with several different apps and platforms for easier communication, collaboration, more efficiency when completing the tasks, and most importantly better employee engagement.
What is SSO – Single sign-on? SSO is a process for authentication that is allowing the employees to access multiple platforms or applications using one set of credentials. Usually, this is a procedure in many companies due to eliminating re-authentication of credentials, reduced calls to the help desk for password resetting, minimized phishing, increased productivity, etc.