What’s happened in the journey so far?

Let’s look back 30 years or so. In 1975, the first Microcomputer was introduced into the workplace. These PCs enabled businesses to automate certain functions in their workforce, making the workplace a more efficient place with a helping hand from technology.

Since then, we’ve never looked back. We’ve introduced smartphones, cloud services and numerous other advancements into our workplaces. Soon enough, Machine Learning and primitive AI will surely be commonplace in our offices. Clearly, our workplaces and the technology within them is always changing.

Redefining the workplace

According to a report by Cisco, 64% of employees would opt for a lower paying job if they could work away from the office.

Gone are the days when the workplace was merely a physical space that employees occupied during their 9-5 working day. Instead, today’s workplace is an always connected, instant-access environment. It has blurred the lines between the physical office and the place where work actually happens. Many of us now work from home, from shared working spaces, hot desks, coffee shops, train carriages, just about anywhere where we can get online.

With this new definition of the work environment, there’s a clear reason and value for organisations to shape their business processes and technologies in line with the needs of their employees.

Your #1 justification for a better digital workplace

Collaboration. This is the main reason I am such an advocate for effective digital workplaces.

To truly enable knowledge sharing across organisations – especially global ones – it’s important to forge productive business relationships beyond the natural pattern of work groups that your employees fall into. Creating a digital workplace is the ideal way to do this.

More and more it’s becoming clear that the traditional “create and push” information approach no longer meets employees’ evolving needs. Instead of simply creating information and pushing it out to everyone in the business, organisations now need to be much smarter in how they share. This is where a persona-based approach comes in, where we target specific groups of people with the exact information and tools they need to do their job most effectively.

As the way companies and employees work evolves, technology is there to enable and support transformation.

Furthermore, by integrating the technologies your employees use, you’ll create a culture of self-service and knowledge sharing. The blockers that were once there will disappear, paving the way for easier collaborative working.

Here’s some examples of the technologies I’d expect to be woven into any organisation’s digital workplace:

  • E-mail
  • Instant Messaging
  • Enterprise Social Media
  • Voice conferencing
  • Document Management System
  • HR Applications

The key to success

Having worked as a SharePoint consultant for over 4 years now, I have seen my fair share of employees who are burdened to the point where they are battling with process and technology, rather than reaping the benefits. As the way companies and employees work evolves, technology is there to enable and support transformation – but, as we all know, sometimes people don’t like change.

The key to success lies in the effective implementation of a digital workplace strategy. The best strategies for digital workplaces will drive cultural change and align with business strategy too. The road to your digital workplace doesn’t end with a simple IT change. Instead, it should mark the start of a business-led transformation which will affect how every employee goes about their day job – from CEO to general administrator. Ultimately, a great digital workplace will bring value (through better collaboration, access, flexibility or something else entirely) for everyone in your organisation.

Just as it should be, each organisation will have their own vision of the ideal digital workplace. But, whether we’re talking about the first Microcomputer or the proliferation of AI in the workplace, there’s one thing I’ll always say: the technology may change but the concept stays the same. Enable and empower your employees to make the best use of the technology you have available, and your digital workplace will thrive.

Sources used:

  1. “The Cisco Connected World Report”. Cisco Systems. October, 2010. Presentation.
  2. Pentland, Alex. “How Social Networks Network Best”. Harvard Business Review. February, 2009. p 37.