A solid digital workplace strategy is no longer optional for most organisations.
As we gradually move out of lockdown and employees want to retain some of the home working practices 2020 has necessitated, an engaging digital workplace will be essential in attracting and retaining top talent.
Yet, according to a recent survey by O2 Business, whilst employees were generally positive about their organisation’s response to the pandemic, getting the right tech in place has been a challenge.
42% of respondents still lacked access to the systems needed to do their job. 31% said they hadn’t been provided with a laptop or desktop computer for work, whilst 45% have no access to videoconferencing facilities.
So, whilst the appetite for digital workplaces is there, sometimes there are major hurdles to implementation. And that’s understandable – this is a completely new way of working for many organisations. It’s difficult to know where to start and learning curves are steep.
If you’re building a digital workplace, we’ve identified five components you really can’t do without. Hopefully, you can use these as a jumping-off point for your own strategies.
What is a digital workplace?
It’s important to understand what we mean by ‘digital workplace’ before proceeding. We like IT infrastructure provider Hewlett Packard’s definition for its simplicity and holistic approach:
“A digital workplace is an effective and engaging mobile work environment that delivers all the services and collaboration tools workers need through consumer-like experiences.”
Included in this definition is:
- The ability to provide personalised, role-specific services to different employees
- The ability to access these on any device, anytime, anywhere
- Using the latest digital tech to increase employee engagement
A digital workplace is about more than just the tech. It’s about the processes, strategies and planning behind the tech that make it work. That’s why the essentials below are a mixture of technical must-haves and strategy-focused points. It’s about the whole picture.
A digital workplace brings processes, strategy, and tech together
1. Cloud infrastructure
Remotely accessing on-premises systems isn’t impossible per se, but it’s not easy to configure. If you need to set this up for a large section of your workforce, it could get complicated.
On top of this, cloud services are where most future-focused tech vendors are facing at this point. That means that if you want to use the latest in digital technology to inspire your workforce, you’ll have many more options if you take a cloud-based approach.
Cloud-based tech has accessibility and device flexibility built into its very core. That’s part of the reason why SaaS-based business applications adds so much value for customers. Make it as easy as possible for your employees to connect remotely – and save your IT team a lot of hassle – by deploying your digital workplace platform over the cloud.
2. An engaging social intranet
How do you keep employee engagement alive in a digital workplace, where you don’t necessarily have the glue of a physical office to focus everyone’s attention?
A ‘social intranet’ – which covers essential work and HR-based functions whilst retaining the familiar user experience of consumer-facing social media channels – is a great way of encouraging employees to connect with the wider organisation.
Social intranets allow your employees to build connections with others in your organisation, share and celebrate good work, discuss best practice and engage with your business’s overarching goals and mission statements.
All of this creates a positive employee experience for remote workers, who are more productive as a result.
3. A solid internal comms strategy
Since the COVID-19 pandemic shifted internal comms to the forefront of company strategy, 83% of internal communicators report heightened trust in company communications. Now’s the time to max out on that trust, and ensure it stays trending upwards.
(Image source: ioic.org.uk)
If your comms starts to get patchy as you implement a digital workplace, that trust will decrease, and you’ll have an uphill struggle to get key messages across to a remote workforce. Keep the momentum going by drawing up a plan for communications that includes:
- When messages need to go out
- Who should send them
- What channel they will be distributed on
4. Reliable, instant communications channels
Your remote office doesn’t have to sacrifice real-time communication, providing you have the right channels in place to encourage it.
Avoid relying on email. It has its place, but for day-to-day communications it’s impersonal, clunky and confusing. Investing in instant messaging software takes communication speed to the next level, particularly for team-specific housekeeping tasks.
Just like in a physical workspace, some conversations work best as person-to-person meetings. Finding a reliable and easy-to-use virtual meeting platform is vital in keeping that face-to-face spontaneity whilst allowing employees to work remotely.
5. Automation of basic employee processes
Automating low-value administrative processes is a cornerstone of successful digital transformation.
Arguably, this is even more important when implementing a digital workplace because it’s much easier for specific tasks to slip through the gaps. This means that not only are employees spending time completing low-value tasks – they are spending more time on top of that chasing others to complete them.
Automating employee-based processes like leave management and payroll removes this time drain completely and ensures that your business saves time and money in the long run.