One of the main debates in any IT department is how best to implement the ultimate digital workplace. This may make it seem like solely an IT initiative, which of course isn’t the case, as every member of the workforce will be involved in its deployment.
However, it’s normally the IT department that leads the way in discussing the challenges and potential of implementing a digital workplace. The emphasis must be on communication and collaboration to ensure its efficiency and ultimately its success.
Defining the digital workplace
The digital workplace should provide an ideal platform for the day-to-day operation of a modern business. At a basic level, it involves data-driven operations, with teams working together, even from different locations. Employees must have access to all the data, documents, and files that they require, through a variety of connected devices. It’s a business strategy that promotes greater employee efficiency through collaboration technology.
In our private life, we use digital communication as second nature, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, interacting and having conversations with our family and friends in real time.
Yet in the workplace, often we’re resorting to communicating with colleagues through email, instead of using the same type of digital communication that we enjoy every day outside of the office. Sharing files and information and gathering feedback over a period of days or even weeks can be inefficient, undermining productivity and costing the company money in lost working time.
The digital workplace is a solution to inefficiency thanks to the single key concept of collaboration at its centre.
Goal of the digital workplace
Although the digital workplace’s scope is massive, never lose sight of the fact that its ultimate goal is relatively simple. It’s there to make workplace processes more efficient, saving time and saving money, with real-time collaboration at its heart. All of the processes made possible by the technology, such as sharing information, talking to each other, notifying our team of our whereabouts and accessing the company’s data, are aimed at streamlining our working day.
Many businesses believe that collaboration platforms can be enabled by simply implementing the relevant technology, telling the workforce which button to press and throwing them in at the deep end. In fact, this underestimates the importance and challenges of achieving optimum collaboration.
Many organisations believe an internal communications team can help achieve a successful collaboration project, ensuring employees understand the objectives. Perhaps the objective is to make internal co-operation simpler, to streamline processes and reduce costs. If the wider workforce isn’t made aware of why the digital technology is being introduced, the system can turn into a tool that is under-used.
Regardless of the sector or size of the business, the success of implementing a digital workplace hinges on the goals being clear from the start and the employees understanding why the platform is being used, ensuring it complements company culture.
Role of an internal communications team
In successfully achieving this objective, the role of an internal communications team becomes pivotal. They must clearly demonstrate why the platform is needed and how the new technology isn’t a dramatic change to working practices, but rather is an extension of existing procedures to make them easier.
The workforce needs to understand that a digital workplace is a step forward for the organisation, and a means of progressing its culture and attaining its goals.
If internal communications aren’t successful in convincing the workforce why the technology is necessary, employees may wrongly believe it’s superfluous and that it’s unnecessary to utilise it. For example, if an intranet is installed, but no-one is sure why, the attitude may prevail that there’s email available on laptops and mobile devices, so why is an internal messaging system needed?
It becomes vital for an internal communications team to ensure every member of staff is on board, both before the transition to a digital workplace begins, during the process, and after the new system is up and running.
The first days of using a new system are very important, as users’ opinion can be formed quickly and can dictate how the technology will be perceived and used in the future. Every small problem or fault will be under scrutiny and if not properly explained and rectified, it can cause users to dismiss the system quickly. Remember that first impressions count.
It’s essential that an internal communications team works closely with the deployment or IT department to recognise teething problems, explain to employees that they’re in hand and then resolve them as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
It’s crucial for the internal communications and deployment teams to liaise from the outset. Other departments that will be directly affected, such as Human Resources, will also need to be involved throughout the roll-out of the new system. Depending on the type of business, other departments may also be drawn into the early roll-out, such as PR and marketing to check that the system’s messaging and branding are suitable.
Never underestimate the need for efficient internal communications in launching a new digital workplace. It will play a pivotal role in introducing the new system and making sure all users understand why it’s being installed and how to use it to optimum effect.
After all, any new collaboration platform requires a behavioural change among the workforce to ensure it fulfils its goal of simplifying day-to-day tasks, and benefits employees and the company as a whole. Once individuals understand why and how the technology is being installed, they can communicate to other teams and other departments their acceptance of the system.
A proactive and efficient internal communications team can ensure a digital workplace can be seamlessly introduced without problems, bringing with it many benefits in the longer term.
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