Can the Right Technologies Unlock Wellbeing in the Digital Workplace?

If your digital workplace provides your employees with the right tools for productivity and collaboration, then you’ll positively impact on their wellbeing. That’s the conclusion of new research that outlines the critical approaches to technology that can deliver a more engaged workforce with a better work-life balance.

Surveying 7,000 employees across 15 countries, the research found that over 60% of respondents would welcome further digitisation in their workplace, while 94% believed that digital transformation had improved their workplace. Over half the respondents also felt that technology had made their workplace a more efficient, collaborative and attractive place to work in. And nearly three quarters were ready to embrace a fully automated workplace within the next decade.

Today’s workforce is driving the digital consumerisation of the social intranet, and that in turn fosters motivation, job satisfaction and employee wellbeing. But what’s the potential impact on IT – who will be tasked with finding the right technologies to unlock wellbeing in the digital workplace?

The digital workplace is driving the future of work

Workplace technology is no longer just the intranet software a company provides, or the tools and apps available in the digital workplace. Technology is no longer a nice bolt-on, but fundamental to the optimisation of the working environment.

Employees showed a clear appetite for a fully digitised workplace. Two thirds voiced concerns that their organisation would not be able to adequately meet future challenges unless their workplace was digital by default. This move towards human-centric technology gives IT departments a clear mandate to develop a roadmap for a fully integrated digital future, developing underlying infrastructure that is truly future ready.

The rise of the Digital Revolutionary

The research project defines ‘Digital Revolutionaries’ as employees who use and expect solid digital infrastructure, including BYOD integration and organisational investment in technology. These are the respondents who get the biggest wellbeing benefit from their workplace, with 74% recording job satisfaction as good or very good. They’re more likely to be positive about their work environment and the organisation they work for, and to share its vision.

The lesson for IT? Well designed and executed technologies provide better user experiences and represent an investment in employee wellbeing and productivity that has ongoing benefits for any organisation.

Managing risky behaviour

Creating a connected workplace is not without its pitfalls. The more connected your workplace, the more potentially vulnerable it is, and 70% of respondents admitted to some form of risky behaviour online.

It’s paramount that employers understand why employees engage in behaviours like copying files to their own unsecured devices or connecting to unknown networks, because, ironically, these are the same Digital Revolutionaries who are driving change in the digital workplace. Smart IT will need to use behavioural analytics to influence security design from network level to the app layer.

The implications for IT, however, need to be handled with care. Security policies will need to follow users and devices and adapt to changing and potentially problematic behaviours. While 92% of employees are aware of the threat posed by a security breach, just 53% actually implement cybersecurity software which in future will need to be user-friendly and straightforward to implement, balancing security with usability.

The future is digital

Employees are almost unanimous in their belief that more technology and automation, not less, will create an improved workplace that is focused on employee experience. At the intersection between the built environment and technology, humans will be the focus of these new spaces where employees are engaged, motivated and comfortable with the tools at their command. The digital by default option becomes critical in attracting and retaining talent, while full automation was seen as a positive development by 71% of respondents.

Ultimately, the takeaway for IT is clear: technology should no longer function as a toolbox to tinker with or a set of apps, but as the ambient infrastructure that is the fundamental underpinning of the digital workplace. Investment needs to be made in open or programmable systems that can innovate to support the continual development of that infrastructure.

Implementing digital workplace technologies that embrace a set of interactive and adaptive experiences has benefits far beyond efficiency and productivity. By shaping company culture in a way that enables employees to develop and evolve, the IT department of the future creates a digital workplace where empowerment, engagement, job satisfaction and well-being all thrive.

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