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The Best Digital Workplace Strategy for Your Business

The digital workplace represents the future of work, offering numerous benefits for businesses and employees alike. Here's what to consider, how to implement the best strategy and tools to consider.

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The digital workplace gives employees the tools they need to improve their communication, collaboration, and alignment. Given the impact of a hybrid workforce, global operations, and collaborative work approaches, workspaces are more integrated and complex than ever.

Implemented effectively, it also allows organizations to mitigate common risks, adhere to compliance, and ultimately realize business growth.

This guide isn’t just for HR teams, it’s a comprehensive guide for businesses looking to make an effective digital transformation.

What is a Digital Workplace?

Imagine walking into your office, and instead of physical desks, chairs, and filing cabinets, you’re greeted by a virtual environment where all your tools, documents, and collaborations exist online.

Actually, you probably don’t need to imagine it. Paperless workplaces are the norm these days. With the rise of AI tools, workplaces require greater speed and alignment and yet there’s the need to balance constant information overload.

A digital workplace integrates technology, people, and processes to improve productivity and engagement by allowing employees to work from anywhere at any time.

Core components of a digital workplace

A successful digital workplace comprises several key components:

  1. Communication: Enhanced communication tools that keep teams connected, even in a virtual environment.
  2. Collaboration: Knowledge-sharing tools that facilitate real-time collaboration on company documentation.
  3. Project Management: Software like Asana, Trello, and Jira to help teams manage tasks and projects efficiently.
  4. Cloud Storage: Services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive ensure secure and accessible data storage.
  5. Security: Strong cybersecurity measures and policies protect against data breaches and cyber threats.
  6. Employee Engagement: Platforms like Workplace by Facebook foster community and engagement among employees.

Why are modern businesses shifting to digital workplaces?

The shift to digital workplaces has been accelerated by several factors:

  1. Hybrid Work: The COVID-19 pandemic made remote work a necessity, demonstrating the feasibility and benefits of working from anywhere. Yet even now, as many have returned to work, hybrid environments require that team members are able to work from anywhere.
  2. Technological Advancements: Rapid technological advancements have made digital tools more accessible and affordable.
  3. Competitive Advantage: Companies adopting digital workplaces often see increased productivity and innovation, giving them a competitive edge.
  4. The need for speed: Workforces increasingly need to work faster and collaborate more effectively to complete their jobs. In 2024 and beyond, it’s about employee productivity but not at the expense of the employee journey
  5. Way of work: information workers prefer newer communication tools, particularly instant messaging, over more traditional ones like e-mail or team workspaces.

Benefits of a digital workplace

The advantages of a digital workplace are numerous:

  1. Increased Productivity: Employees can access necessary tools and information from anywhere, leading to less downtime and more efficient work processes.
  2. Cost Savings: Reduced need for physical office space and resources can lead to significant cost reductions.
  3. Flexibility: Employees enjoy greater work-life balance with the ability to work remotely.
  4. Improved Collaboration: Digital tools facilitate better communication and collaboration across teams and geographies.
  5. Employee experience: Greater collaboration results in better employee experience and engagement—and productivity, too! 82% of employees say that feeling happy at work drives productivity.
Employee happiness - Slack happiness at work report
Slack State of Work Report 2023

How to implement a digital workplace in your business

Implementing a digital workplace requires a strategic approach:

Assess needs (and culture!)

Understand the specific needs and pain points of your organization. Not just that, but consider the culture. It is no secret that your organization’s culture guides how your employees behave and work. Rather than enforcing a new way of working, try to find tools that naturally fit in to the flow of work. Employees will easily adopt technology and software that makes their lives easier.

Consider the current toolset and choose new tools

Before launching into a bunch of new tools and applications across the workforce, consider the current toolset.

Too often, organizations implement new tools in silos without the benefit of a holistic digital workplace strategy which leads to app sprawl, information overload and general tech fatigue, if not employee burnout.

Consider new tools in categories that include productivity – such as AI tools, messaging, collaboration, communication, business systems – such as HR automation tools and SOP software, connectivity tools like the organization chart and mobility.

  • AI tools
  • Communication tools – like Slack, Zoom
  • Collaboration tools – like Happeo, Quip
  • Project management tools – like Jira, Asana
  • Knowledge management tools – like Whale, Guru or ClickUp
  • CRM systems – like Salesforce, SAP CRM
  • HRM software – like Workday, SucessFactors

 

And select digital tools that promote growth, align with your business requirements, and integrate well with existing systems. Make sure to check out the integrations and scope of each tool before purchasing to prevent the purchase of unneccessary software.

Develop policies

Establish clear policies for remote work, cybersecurity, and data management.

Train employees

Provide comprehensive training to ensure employees can effectively use new tools and technologies.

Monitor and adjust

Don’t forget to encourage employee feedback to continuously improve workflows and to enhance what isn’t working.

Continuously monitor the effectiveness of your digital workplace strategy and make necessary adjustments.

How to choose the right tools and technologies

Selecting the right tools is crucial for the success of a digital workplace.

Before considering any new technology, it’s important to consider the implications for the business and its people.

  • What is the potential ROI of such a tool
  • AND what is the impact on the people working in the organization.

 

More specifically will a new tool;

  • Reduce operational costs,
  • Increase revenue,
  • Accelerate time to market,
  • Increase agility and flexibility,
  • Better the employee experience,
  • Raise productivity,
  • Strengthen talent retention,
  • Or make innovation easier?

 

Once you understand the answers to those questions, consider the following elements when considering tools;

  1. Scalability: Choose tools that can grow with your business.
  2. Integration: Ensure the tools can integrate with your existing systems and processes.
  3. User-Friendliness: Opt for tools that are intuitive and easy for employees to use.
  4. Support: Look for vendors that offer robust customer support and training resources.

Got questions on your mind?
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Challenges shifting to a digital workplace

Before you set about completely digitizing your workspace, consider these potential challenges.

  1. App sprawl: The average knowledge worker uses approximately 30 apps per day and will context-switch close to 3,000 in a single day, according to the Harvard Business Review. So be sure to have a central digital strategy that involves stakeholders across the organization.
  2. Resistance to Change: Employees may resist new tools and ways of working and change management may be needed for an effective rollout.
  3. Security Risks: Increased reliance on digital tools can expose the business to cybersecurity threats.
  4. Training: According to Canva’s 2024 CIO report, 64% of CIO’s say they don’t have enough staff to train employees on new technologies. Ensure that service providers provide adequate training for new technologies. And ensure that employees have access to knowledge bases to keep them updated of specific training.
  5. Technical Issues: Problems with technology can disrupt workflows and productivity.

Is a digital workplace the solution for your business?

A digital workplace can offer substantial benefits, but it’s essential to consider its impact on your business and employees. While it can enhance flexibility and productivity, it can also lead to challenges such as burnout if not managed properly.

According to a study by Buffer, 22% of remote workers struggle with unplugging after work, highlighting the importance of establishing boundaries and promoting a healthy work-life balance.

Example of a Digital Workplace Strategy

Company snapshot: With ~18,000 employees, RehabCare provides rehab and post-acute care services, operating in over 1,200 hospitals and facilities across 43 states.

The Challenge:

At RehabCare, every minute counts – employees need to track and record every detail, including the diagnosis, treatment and when the appointment began and ended.

The digital workplace solution:

RehabCare equipped its staff with easy-to-use, process-driven applications on iPhone and iPad mobile devices. The mobile devices are used at point-of-care to capture information quickly and easily, such as the treatment delivered, the time spent and other relevant clinical information. The cloud-based applications allow access to detailed patient information anytime anywhere.

Key benefits:

The devices offer an intuitive user interface that requires minimal training and appeals to employees.

RehabCare estimates it is saving millions per year in job retention as a result of iPhone and iPad integration. Before this integration, patient pre-admission screening was a time-consuming process involving multiple paper forms and questionnaires.

Source: Apple Inc.6

Winning strategies to shift to a digital workplace

If you’ve decided to make the shift to a digital workplace, make sure to follow these best practices;

  • Involve stakeholders across the organization to ensure a complete and solid digital strategy
  • Consider employee roles both now and for the future and ensure adequate employee training
  • Consistently run process audits to ensure best outcomes
  • Test and utlize AI tools but make sure to evaluate the ROI
  • Get employee feedback for continuous improvement
Piling one piece of software onto another can become very difficult to manage and integrate. This often can unintentionally create an environment where more manual work is being created by having to piece together bits and parts of different systems.
Madeline Grecek on Digital workplace strategy
Madeline Grecek
Senior Manager, Global People Enablement at Remote, Remote

Impact of a digital workplace on people in the business

The digital workplace has the potential to impact team members positively but also negatively.

As such it’s important to consider the impact of new tools on team members. There is a risk of burnout due to the blurring of work-life boundaries. It’s crucial to implement policies that encourage regular paid time off and general work-life balance.

Bottom line?

The digital workplace represents the future of work, offering numerous benefits for businesses and employees alike. By carefully selecting the right tools, developing clear policies, and addressing challenges proactively, businesses can successfully transition to a digital workplace.

Ultimately, the goal is to create an environment that supports productivity, innovation, and employee well-being. The key to success lies in balancing technology with human needs to create a harmonious and effective workplace.

FAQs on Digital Workplace Strategy

There are five main pillars to consider in digital workplace strategy;

  1. Technology
  2. Content
  3. Collaboration
  4. Compliance
  5. Experience.

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