The year 2020 has been a tremendous catalyst in the adoption of digital workplaces around the world, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to shift to remote work. Through it all, companies have experimented with a variety of technologies to help them communicate more effectively in a largely remote environment. Luckily, much of the technology required to maintain a productive digital workplace is already available.
As teams leverage the tools they already have and seek to implement new solutions, there are many best practices and industry benchmarks that can help them navigate this challenging time. In this post, we’ll discuss what a digital workplace is, why it’s so important today, and how this style of working can be optimized over the next several years.
What is the Definition of a Digital Workplace?
A digital workplace is a fully virtual environment that seeks to replicate or improve many of the same elements as a standard physical workplace. Planning and developing proper routine work practices is vital in a digital workplace because team members are often in different locations and even spread across multiple time zones. The overall goal of a digital work environment is to prioritize employee needs and leverage technology that enables everyone to do their jobs more effectively. Some of the major areas of development in a digital workplace include:
- Business Applications
- Agile Work Environments
- Strategic Planning
- Governance and Operations
- User Experience
- Technology and Security
One of the major challenges in transitioning to a digital workplace is finding solutions that are tailored to the needs of your team while also leveraging industry best practices. As a developing concept, there is no perfect deployment of a digital workplace, but this definition helps to highlight some of the most important competencies.
Reasons to Adopt a Digital Workplace
The appearance of COVID-19 has certainly propelled the digital workplace into the spotlight. Companies needed to find a way of supporting staff working both remotely and onsite with an overall infrastructure that is reliable, and they had to do so quickly. Many businesses are now forming future work strategies, and a number of them are considering permanent adoption of a digital workplace. These are few of the most important benefits of a digital workplace:
- Employee Retention. A digital workplace helps engage your workforce by providing them with a flexible platform to collaborate with other team members and complete their tasks. Many employees appreciate the greater flexibility and autonomy a digital workplace offers, which can lead to greater retention over time.
- Employee Satisfaction. In many ways, remote communication tools help to foster connection and communication among employees – sometimes even more than in-office activities. For example, access to messaging and social media apps allows workers to choose from more communication channels in addition to email and phone. The added communication also helps facilitate teamwork and can boost employee satisfaction.
- Employee Productivity. Since employees can easily contact each other and are all connected to a system that makes work more transparent, everyone can be more productive. You may also see a reduction in the number of meetings called in a digital workplace due to improvements such as streamlined workflows and transparent planning.
- Talent Acquisition. Since a digital workplace allows you to hire workers who are entirely remote, it can expand the pool of potential job candidates significantly by eliminating location as a factor. You may also attract workers who have a special interest in the flexibility of remote working, which can further increase your candidate pool for each position.
What are the Tools of a Digital Workplace?
In addition to major changes in business strategy and workflow management, a company that has committed to a creating a digital workplace must also consider several technology changes. A few of the most popular tools that can be found in a digital workplace include:
- Paperless documents
- Cloud file sharing
- Instant messaging
- Collaboration tools
- Online calendars
- Single sign on (SSO)
- Electronic record archives
No company can implement all of these overnight, so they will often modify their current IT hardware and software roadmap. They may also use the transition to a digital workplace as an opportunity to replace aging technology while providing new capabilities to employees.
Digital Workplace Best Practices
A successful digital workplace strategy begins with comprehensive strategic planning. It’s important to be mindful of change management during these times, as employees can be easily overwhelmed by a barrage of messages while trying to manage their priorities. These best practices can help you quickly address the needs of a growing digital workplace:
- Provide Clear Instructions. This may sound obvious but, in many cases, performing simple tasks can be difficult when using new systems. A work-from-home guide could be a useful asset for your employees in addition to improved IT and self-service support options.
- Explain Why Changes Are Made. Even in a traditional workplace, communication is often a challenge. When working in a digital, remote environment, it’s helpful for executives and management to communicate changes directly with employees and answer any questions they have.
- Delegate Effectively. Proper delegation is one of the best ways to build trust among your workforce. The shift to a digital workplace is an ideal time to evaluate your work processes and responsibilities to find new opportunities for your staff to take on more active roles.
Digital workplaces are becoming the standard way of structuring a work environment for many of today’s leading companies. Businesses of all sizes and types can benefit from a more connected workforce, and implementing new tools is manageable with proper planning. Digital workplaces represent an opportunity to drastically shift the way we li