Do you believe that the digital workplace is technology focused? Or just a passing fad? As the idea of working in spaces beyond the physical gathers common currency, so do the myths that surround the digital workplace. It’s a term and a concept for which there is no wholly agreed meaning, which allows misconceptions to take hold and flourish.
It’s not all about the technology
Without employee engagement, any digital workplace will fail, yet one of the critical myths that hamper adoption remains the idea that collaborative online workspaces are somehow technology driven.
As the digital workplace evolves, through the adoption of consumer IT and artificial intelligence, the more human-centric it becomes and the further a holistic conception of the digital workplace as a keystone of employee experience and digital transformation can be driven.
It’s not a rebranded intranet
While the social intranet is a key conduit to the digital workplace, it is only the gateway to a wider digital eco-system that has the ability to drive collaboration and encompass all workers, including those who have traditionally been excluded from the intranet. The two terms shouldn’t be confused, although the social intranet is a useful tool to drive engagement with the digital workplace.
The digital workplace itself is fast becoming a strategic asset rather than a playground for the IT department. And with many organisations dependent on technology to achieve strategic objectives, a digital workplace becomes critical for everything from employee productivity to delivering strategic change.
Dispelling the myths
When decision makers misunderstand the power of the digital workplace then it’s time for digital teams to proactively challenge misconceptions and build a culture that breaks down silos and creates a consensus that can help your organisation move forward.
These conversations can be challenging, but there are several strategies that can drive a common understanding of the concept of a digital workplace and serve to create a sense of urgency. Target a senior champion or champions who can deliver buy-in from the top tier of the organisation. Then target key individuals across the organisation – look beyond HR and IT to develop a cross-functional group of adopters and key stakeholders who can push the message up, down and across your teams.
Arm yourself with data on threats and opportunities, pain points and the ways that the digital workplaces can align with your strategies and values in a way that senior management finds difficult to ignore.
Focus on terminology
The concept of the digital workplace is always evolving, moving on from early ideas of employees accessing the internet at work. Staying consistent with terminology presents its own difficulties – how do you define an emerging concept? However, if you bring together the key stakeholders in your organisation including HR, IT, communications and leadership to define a vocabulary for your digital workplace then you’re more likely to stick to it and be open to redefining the concept as it evolves for your organisation.
Now you need to make those concepts and terminology tangible and sell the narrative of how a properly implemented digital workplace can positively impact the workforce, including remote workers. Develop assets such as roadmaps, wireframes, case studies and screenshots that make senior management sit up and take notice. Even better, tie the digital workplace agenda directly into tangible programmes for digital transformation and employee engagement.
Developing a consensus
Developing a consensus is arguably critical in moving your digital workplace forward and defining your future priorities. Start by mapping where you currently are to take forward as data input for a stakeholder workshop. This will help you define a strategy or roadmap for the direction of future travel that works as the foundation for the authority, consistency and momentum for the development of your programme.
As the concept of your digital workplace changes, your strategy must adapt in order that your agenda can keep moving forward. From establishing governance to getting employees to develop new ways of working through individual channels or integrated experience, AI and consumerised intranets, progress should be organic and transformative. If you want to evolve a digital workplace, you need to normalise and embed ongoing change.
Use many definitions, not one
The solution to combating the myths around the digital workplace ultimately lies in creating understanding and simplicity. Don’t try and shoehorn your digital workplace into one of the common definitions – instead allow your terminology, concept and roadmap to develop with the buy-in of key stakeholders. It may be helpful to shift your definition based on your audience to develop clarity and have constructive conversations about the reality rather than the misconception of your intranet software and digital workplace.
Be clear on the steps between drawing up a roadmap and implementing it across the workforce, acknowledge that it may always be aspirational and never fully achievable. However, it’s a powerful tool to create the buy-in and cross-functional focus you need to dispel the myths and implement a functional and personnel-centred digital workplace.
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