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How a Digital Workplace Can Benefit Your Business

IR Media

Written by IR Media

info@ir.com

Thanks to constantly developing technology, the modern workplace has undergone a massive transformation that is continuously evolving. In this guide, we'll explore the natural evolution of the digital workplace with a focus on how digital transformation has enabled the rise of hybrid working.

Read our guide to future-proofing the hybrid workplace

Introduction

The digital workplace is now the future of work, transformed into an always-connected environment enabling instant access to every conceivable tool an employee would want to get the job done - from whatever location they choose.

In this guide, we'll share insights on what makes a successful digital workplace and highlight key areas including:

  • The rise of the digital workplace

  • Developing a digital workplace framework

  • How the digital workplace enables better employee engagement

  • Why a physical workplace is still important

  • The benefits and challenges of the digital workplace

  • How to ensure that your digital workplace technology is always working

The rise of the digital workplace

While 'non-desk workers' (like factory workers, warehouse workers and outside sales reps) may make up the majority of the workforce, knowledge workers are the primary consumers in a digital workplace.

Before the pandemic, only 8% of remote-capable employees (meaning their job can be done remotely at least part of the time), worked exclusively from home, while about one-third had a hybrid work arrangement.

The pandemic forced the vast majority of employees to adopt a remote work model in some capacity, and as many as 70% worked exclusively from home in May of 2020.

As of February 2022. Most remote-capable employees continued to work from home at least part of the time, but the mix became a nearly even split - 42% had a hybrid schedule, and 39% worked entirely from home.

As it stands, approximately half of the U.S. full-time workforce, or about 60 million workers report that their current job can be done remotely working from home, at least part of the time.

Current and anticipated employee work locations for remote-capable jobs

Image: Gallup

Technology as the enabler

The rapid adoption of hybrid working has created an unprecedented growth in technological capabilities. An exponential increase in computing power available to both consumers and enterprises, as well as vast improvements in internet connection is changing the way employees and companies work.

Additionally, the evolution of cloud technology has enabled the rapid development of digital communication platforms, almost limitless storage, data mining, and better security, making virtual and global collaboration possible in more fields every day.

Technology, including virtual meeting tools and applications, has facilitated the end of the permanent 9 to 5 commute, and made the digital workplace location-agnostic.

Employees are no longer tethered to a desktop PC and a static desk in a physical office. They can use almost any device imaginable to communicate and collaborate from any platform at any time, from different cities or anywhere in the world.

The New Digital Workplace as Hub and Platform

Developing a digital workplace framework

Globally, organizations have adopted a digital workplace strategy that includes better employee engagement, state-of-the-art collaboration tools and business applications. Digital workplace initiatives influence how technology is transforming the type of work employees perform, as well as where and how work gets done.

By implementing digital workplace frameworks, companies can effectively break down the barriers dividing effective communication and collaboration. Full digital transformation doesn't happen overnight. A successful digital workplace infrastructure is the one that can align the right technology and the right talent with an organization’s future goals.

Main components of efficient digital workplace

Image: SCNsoft

Here are some of the key components of a successful digital ecosystem:

Synchronous and asynchronous communication channels

A digital workplace should allow employees to communicate synchronously with each other (or in real time), regardless of their location, or the device they might be using. It can enable knowledge sharing when teams aren’t present in the same physical office space and can’t have face to face meetings every day. Asynchronous communication is also important because it allows employees to respond to messages in their own time, as well as giving remote team members the opportunity to create their own work schedule.

Project management

The digital workplace can allow for better project management by establishing policies, procedures, and principles for successfully taking a project from conception to completion phase. It ensures all the involved departments in the organization are able to work together efficiently in order to achieve the project goals.

Teams can create new projects directly inside the digital workplace platform and collaborate in real-time. They can also manage and track projects to ensure all the deadlines are met and project information is available easily for everyone involved.

Process management

Process management helps organizations create, edit, and analyze internal processes that make up the very core of their business by helping assess the current state of the organization and identifying areas of improvement.

With a digital workplace, organizations can digitize and convert their internal business processes into streamlined workflows. Digital workplaces can identify and automate the repetitive, routine and predictable parts of a process which can save employees' time and allow them to focus on more important responsibilities.

Case management

Case management is the method of processing information through a combination of digitized workflows and human decision making. It offers a dynamic structure to execute unpredictable and non-routine business processes that require complex decision making.

Cases can be different, depending on the organization. For example, a case could be meeting a service request, or resolving a customer complaint. A digital workplace makes it easier to handle cases from multiple users through a single interface. It also facilitates effective collaboration and expedites priority cases within the organization to ensure speedy resolution.

Analytics

An important aspect of a successful digital workplace strategy is the implementation of detailed and intelligent analytics tools. These tools help turn vast amounts of the dissonant data generated in a digital workplace into actionable insights.

With clear and cohesive analytics with the digital workplace, organizations can easily translate company data into charts, infographics and simplified forms to provide enhanced insight. Additionally, a digital workplace with powerful analytics tools can have a bird’s-eye view of everything needed to make important decisions.

Great analytics tools also pave the way to higher productivity as they automate data analysis and deliver powerful insights with minimal human effort.

Digital workplace monitoring tools

One of the most important digital workplace solutions is third party (vendor agnostic) performance management software that allows you to take a precise look at the entire UC environment.

In a digital workplace, there are usually several different technologies that have to function together in order to achieve optimum performance. As well as this, in a dispersed workforce that operates between a physical workplace and a digital workplace, using multiple mobile devices and different communication apps there are bound to be problems.

Slow logons, session disconnects, screen freezes, etc., are some of the common complaints that users may have.

Different facets of digital workspace user experience

How digital workplaces enables better employee engagement

How the new digital workplace era unfolds will depend on the types of hybrid experiences employers create for their teams, how managers adapt to and address employee expectations.

For every organization to be successful, a good employee experience is crucial. Among other things, it ensures a better quality of work, dedicated employees and a greater commitment to the company. In fact, according to research by Gallup, organizations with engaged employees had up to 59% lower staff turnover.

Key drivers of better engaged employees

Key drivers of better engaged employees

Image source: Gallup

How to elevate employee experience

The digital workplace has changed the way employees and management interact. There are distinct differences between today's digital workplace systems (a horizontal business) and management systems used in the past (a vertical business). In a vertical system, upper-level management issues orders and employees follow those orders without input or objection.

In contrast, employees in a horizontal system are encouraged to make suggestions and offer input and ideas that can improve workplaces processes.

People want to feel inspired, derive purpose and meaning from their work, and to be recognized for what makes them unique. This is what drives employees to become, and remain engaged.

Developing employee relationships, particularly with a manager who can make employees feel more valuable by coaching them to the next level, is important.

According to studies by Gallup, the manager or team leader alone accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement.

Past and future values for employee experience

How the right equipment raises employee engagement

In a digital workplace, employees use a number of digital tools to get work done - from instant messaging to video communication tools, enterprise social media tools, knowledge sharing, automated workflows etc.

To get measurable results from a truly integrated digital workplace, each digital workplace solution should empower employees with feature-rich, intuitive collaboration tools for both internal communication and external. These tools allow workers to message, meet, voice and video call, share content, and communicate from any space.

Many employees prefer a Bring-Your-Own-Device policy, where they can use their own devices from mobile phones to laptops and tablets in their work environment.

Why a physical workplace is still important

Digital workplaces can be defined as those that predominantly operate virtually, but having a physical location to come together is still vital to maintain workplace culture. Why is physical space as well as a digital workplace important?

Offices give an organization an identity

Although a business may be well known for its services, products, and the people behind it, a physical location also plays an important part in its identity and its existence in the marketplace.

But the hybrid working model has changed the purpose of the bricks-and-mortar office. It is no longer a place where people go for everyday work, to complete tasks autonomously - instead it has become a place where teams come together as part of a digital workplace group to collaborate.

Social interaction

Even in the digital workplace, there is still a need for physical interaction with others. Office space is extremely important to maintain a social work culture so that the employees and employers of the company can reinforce their roles, achievements, challenges and ideas smoothly as a team. Socialization and teamwork are both interconnected and necessary for a good employee experience.

The benefits and challenges of the digital workplace

Digital workplaces drive productivity and collaboration by using advanced tools and technology to empower and engage teams.

Benefits of a flexible workplace

Image: KonicaMinolta

Some of the wide-ranging benefits of adopting a digital workplace include:

  • Global work collaboration is made easier with a variety of collaboration platforms

  • Remote working can not only improve productivity, but it also enables flexibility for employees and employers. This leads to improved employee retention, improved productivity and greater workplace satisfaction and employee experience for the whole workforce

  • Huge cost savings by diminishing the need for physical travel, expensive real estate and other conventional operating expenses

  • Improved business connectivity, flexibility and agility with more opportunity for achieving business goals faster

  • Directing more workflow into the digital space will deliver more insight into day-to-day operations, and improve transparency, helping identify successes and opportunities for improvement.

  • Digital workplaces allow a company to acquire top talent, as they aren't bound by geographic or location constraints.

Read our blog post on
'How Hybrid Working can Improve your Talent Pool'
  • In today's workplace, enterprise social networks enable workplace users to communicate and interact, share company information and coordinate their work through internal communications using real time digital tools

A digital workplace also benefits customers. It empowers businesses to greatly improve customer experience and provide more effective ways to add value for their customers:

  • Businesses that have successfully embraced digital transformation can easily become more customer-centric. A business who exploits consumer-oriented styles and technologies through the use of omni-channel marketing will have more satisfied customers.

  • A better customer experience leads to less customer churn

Top benefits of adopting a digital model

 Image: Superoffice

While the benefits of digital solutions are many, the increasingly complex technologies required to create the digital workplace can lead to challenges for companies:

  • One of the major digital workplace challenges is complexity. Many various disparate software packages, communication technologies and other platforms are not designed to work together. This can cause connectivity problems, interrupt online workflows, and hinder productivity. It can also lead to user frustration and reduce employee satisfaction.

  • Another problem within the digital workplace is disengaged remote workers, who feel disconnected from their workplace. Solutions include companies encouraging increased communication with their employees and engaging their attention, as well assisting them in prioritizing their time and resources.

  • Silos are a digital workplace problem and a company-wide communication problem, exacerbated by digital workplace challenges. Silos cause dissemination and a lack of alignment between teams and the rest of the organization. To take the modern intranet from employee pain-point to agile endpoint, companies will need to create an experience that meets the needs of every worker.

How to ensure that your digital workplace technologies are always working

While digital technologies have enabled many benefits, the digital workplace comes with some fundamental flaws too:

Technical issues

  • Inconsistent quality or remote network connections

  • In-office corporate networks not prepared to handle increased demands of hybrid work, particularly video

  • Incompatible devices

  • Sub-par audio and video

  • Workspaces not optimized for hybrid collaboration – both home workspaces and in-office meeting spaces

  • Security risks when faced with managing multiple devices and networks

  • The absence of immediate on-site technical support

Social and cultural issues

  • Difficulty separating home life from work life

  • Feelings of personal isolation or social alienation

  • Reluctance or difficulty embracing hybrid communication technology

  • A reduction in motivation and team morale

  • Difficulty in maintaining company culture

  • Unclear performance metrics

In the digital workplace, big data and analytics are crucial to understanding end-user performance and which user-communities are impacted. Being able to see every level of your hybrid working ecosystem provides layers of intelligence and insights that create team cohesion, cost management, innovation, and growth.

With the disparate nature of hybrid working, a digital workplace could consist of dozens or even hundreds of different applications, devices, networks and locations.

It’s vital to monitor performance in real-time, and have the means to respond to problems immediately.

Third-party monitoring tools also allow you to view metrics, collect essential data and focus on insights and analytics that can make the difference between success or failure in the hybrid workplace.

The IR Collaborate suite of performance management solutions can give you the insights you need to monitor, troubleshoot and manage your entire hybrid workplace UC infrastructure from a single pane of glass.

Topics: Communications Collaborate Digital Workplace Hybrid workplace

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