Work is a thing you do, not a place you go.

The digital workplace is the natural evolution of and virtual equivalent of the physical workplace. But why are so many struggling with the concept? A workplace should be seen as revenue per sq.ft not liability per sq.ft. Are current workplaces meeting the needs of people and the organisation to allow their potential to be met?

Gone are the days when the workplace was merely a physical space that employees occupied during regular office hours. There are 3 fundamental trends that have accelerated the digital workplace: the aging and multi-generational workforce, information overload and the need for speed.

Today’s always connected, instant access environment has blurred the lines between the physical office and the place where work actually happens. As the distinction between professional and personal life dissolves, and the workplace becomes truly digital, employees are communicating and collaborating in different ways. By integrating the technologies that employees use (from e-mail, instant messaging and enterprise social media tools to HR applications and virtual meeting tools), the digital workplace can break down communication barriers, positioning us to transform the employee experience by fostering efficiency, innovation and growth.

An effective digital workplace decouples work from a physical location for much of the time. This freeing up of work has several important implications not just about where people work, but how teams are formed and how people come together to solve problems.

An effective digital workplace will break down the barriers between people, workplaces and technologies and empower employees to be productive and creative wherever they are. IT is a catalyst for new ways of working, but competitive advantage increasingly comes from letting employees use technology in the way they want to.

The Digital Workplace requires strong planning and management due to its fundamental role in people’s productivity, engagement and working health. At its heart it is about:

  • Putting people first – the impact on employee’s well-being/flexibility/work life balance is what makes the digital workplace important.
  • Technology – advances in technology are allowing people to work when/where/how works best for them.
  • Recruitment and retention – the digital workplace is key in 2019 with research finding people will work for less money in a job if they have the option to work flexible hours with some remote time.
  • Management and design – proactively developing a digital workplace means addressing it as a whole and coordinating between technology, process and people.
  • Reducing property costs – less sq,ft needed.

The digital workplace provides increased opportunities for:

  • Communication and employee engagement
  • Collaboration
  • Finding and sharing of information and knowledge
  • Business applications (process specific tools and employee self-service)
  • Agile working – the ability to be productive any time and place

To work efficiently, the digital workplace needs:

The key focus should be on: planning, governance and operational management, proactive support for adoption and a high quality user experience through robust, secure and flexible technology. The visible parts of the digital workplace are technologies and ways of working that allow people to connect, collaborate, communicate and co-operate without necessarily being together face to face. What is used to deliver each service will vary over time and by organisational need. Regular reviews are key!

The Work Foundation found that 1/3 of employees believe their productivity has changed in the last 3 years. Only 31% predict their productivity will increase in the future:

 

With Technology and changing ways of working being the drivers, how are your organisations preparing for the future?

After all, work is a thing we do, not a place we go.

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