Technology grows at a remarkable pace, encouraging a growing number of businesses to use it to achieve their objectives. Increasingly, companies turn to software to work and collaborate across time zones and organizational divides. Certainly, the digital workplace has become a reality for multiple businesses. But how do we define the digital workplace and how to embrace it effectively across industries?
What Is a Digital Workplace?
Although there are numerous definitions of the digital workplace, the consensus is that it describes the use of technology to build a virtual environment where employees can perform their duties.
The digital workplace doesn’t define where the work is conducted—just because there are remote employees on a team doesn’t mean they make up the digital workplace. Rather, the digital workplace is how the work is done—whether the collaboration, data exchange, knowledge sharing, and communication occurs with the use of technology.
The digital workplace is therefore a combination of strategic planning, management, innovation, and overarching employee experience where organizational goals are achieved through technology.
For every company, the level of immersion in the digital workplace will be different, depending on how and which business processes can be translated into the digital medium.
Why Should Companies Consider Embracing the Digital Workplace?
Better Employee Experience and Retention
Adopting the digital workplace is a driver for growth for companies. In fact, organizations with robust digital workplace solutions are perceived as attractive employers. By boosting employee experience through technology, these organizations garner more talent and increase employee retention. The digital workplace, therefore, results in higher employee engagement and satisfaction.
Read how else you can boost employee satisfaction here.
Higher Return on IT Investment
Cloud-based software lets companies do away with managing costly legacy infrastructure. Software in the cloud can be purchased per service and need basis—giving companies flexibility in their IT spending. Furthemore, integrated tools offer seamless workflows with multi-layer security solutions. When there’s feature overlap, companies can opt for consolidated software, drop redundant tools, and cut costs.
Moreover, because productivity increases with the use of technology and automation, workforce efficiency gains result in revenue boost. Operational costs also go down when companies digitize business processes.
Increased Service Availability
Decentralized platforms decrease the risk of data loss and increase service availability. The consistent delivery of work becomes possible for scattered teams.
On the other hand, when traditional on-site solutions and core systems become unavailable, operations may come to a stop. Decentralized platforms, e.g., with multiple servers available across the globe, ensure then that systems are active even when there’s a local disruption.
More Efficient Paperless Workflows
Using technology to achieve objectives turns workflows increasingly paperless. For example, document sharing acquires a new level of efficiency through smart-and-quick browsing and easier archiving. The use of less paper results in a growing reduction in printing and a lower need to store documents physically.
What Are the Benefits of the Digital Workplace?
Embracing the digital workplace brings a host of benefits for companies:
More Productive and Efficient Workforce
By improving employee engagement through technology that boosts staff experiences and facilitates the collaborative execution of tasks, you can expect an increase in productivity.
In a study by Aruba, 93% of respondents believe that the growing use of technology in the workplace leads to tangible empowerment and efficiency gains.
An efficient digital workplace streamlines administrative tasks and improves employee access to resources and data. Organized workflows enhanced by digital channels aid in information exchange. As a result, employees can work more effectively, achieving organizational goals faster.
Better Business Intelligence
Many of today’s software solutions are equipped with analytics and reporting features, giving businesses a more granular insight into the operations. With multiple digital assets collecting data for visualizations, it becomes easier to draw actionable conclusions.
For example, data acquired from sources that employees use to perform their daily tasks gives companies insight into the effectiveness of operations, workflows, and business processes. Data can reveal gaps and optimization opportunities that companies can improve to streamline operations.
Improved Communication and Employee Engagement
Lack of efficient corporate communication costs businesses around the world on average $62.4 million per year.
By establishing a consistent communication channel that unites all employees and lets everyone communicate freely, companies can relay news, changes, or inquiries. The conversations on digital channels are easily archived and available for all employees to review. This ensures transparency and streamlines communication.
Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the global shift to remote work caused performance issues among many IT teams. Understaffed IT teams struggled to respond to the surge in demand to secure corporate devices. As a result, appropriate security for all digital company assets showed inefficiencies.
However, integrated, AI-based security solutions offer high-level protection that covers all operations conducted online. With cloud-based solutions, security patches and updates are automatic—resulting in better online security. Consequently, less time spent on system management and administration lets IT teams focus on critical security vigilance.
What Are the Drawbacks of the Digital Workplace?
The drawbacks of the digital workplace most often stem from its inadequate adoption.
Reduced Soft Skills
Digital transformation helps companies improve their communications across limitations. The use of tools to perform work also directly contributes to improved productivity. However, as employees become versed in online communications, traditional communication can get sidelined.
The benefit of in-person meetings is that they support collaborative teamwork as well as the innovative nature of collaboration. There’s a lot that can be communicated with the use of body language and physical, on-site interpretation.
Videoconferencing puts a limit on much of the non-verbal communication, which can result in a slow degradation of soft skills among employees communicating remotely.
The key to overcome this is equipping digital teams with skilled leaders with soft skills that help employees integrate and collaborate in a virtual environment. The best leaders for scattered teams are those who know how to ensure high employee engagement and collaboration across digital tools.
Costly Initial Implementation
While the digital workplace offers an increase in revenue in the long-term, the switch might be costly initially. The effective overhaul of business processes to the digital medium can call for numerous investments and changes in policies.
Risk Associated with the Digital Workplace
The more digital assets a company has, the greater its attack surface. That’s why cybersecurity measures have to be implemented well before the adoption of actual software to limit the number of entry points for hackers.
For example, without proper employee training and security frameworks implemented, hackers might have easier access to data stored on a cloud-based document management system. Integrated security solutions help ensure high-quality multi-level protection across company resources. Regular employee cybersecurity drills also increase the safety of digital assets.
Overreliance on Technology
Digital transformation and automation of processes can help employees work better and more efficiently. However, when relying on technology for core business processes, operations might come to a halt if critical software solutions become unavailable due to a disruption.
For example, if internal systems become unavailable, or there’s a connectivity issue and remote employees can connect to the internal network, remote staff won’t be able to perform their duties.
It’s thus critical to have backup solutions readily available to mitigate the disruption and swiftly resume operations.
Technology to Consider When Transitioning to the Digital Workplace
The key to proper employee organization and teamwork is efficient communication. Enterprise social networking tools allow employees to share work-related information and maintain a high level of camaraderie that facilitates collaboration.
Building easily accessible and engaging employee social networks helps increase transparency and ensure that all relevant corporate information reaches staff.
Streamlined communication is critical for employees as well as senior management and the board. Secure and highly collaborative tools such as Azeus Convene dedicated to board management let directors make critical decisions regardless of the location of board members.
Effective collaboration is the backbone of the digital workplace. As the workforce becomes distributed and work hours flexible, digital collaboration tools are key to ensuring high-level productivity. That said, digital collaboration tools allow employees to share and work on projects and documents. By building individualized management frameworks team leaders can use collaboration tools to create a culture of efficient work. Convene, Basecamp, GitHub, Asana, or Trello are just some of the many useful software solutions that aid in collaboration.
Although mainly associated with customer assistance on e-commerce websites, companies are increasingly employing chatbots for their internal purposes. Chatbots can be adapted to answer employee questions regarding HR, payroll, onboarding, IT support, and other self-service features.
With the current sophistication of AI algorithms, enterprise AI chatbots are increasingly more adept at understanding natural language and conversations.
Companies generate data galore. For example, documents, forms, spreadsheets, code repositories, and videos have to be organized and stored effectively to facilitate everyday work. Given this, cloud-based document management systems are currently essential tools for information sharing, collaboration.
All data within a document system can be easily organized and managed, letting companies store all important information in a secure, highly available environment. At the same time, with the availability of analytics features, many of those systems can help companies streamline workflows.
Microsoft SharePoint Online, Google Drive Suite, or DocuWare Cloud are three powerful document management platforms.
Work and project management tools help organizations identify individual business processes and automate workflows.
Analytics available within these tools offer valuable insight to managers and team leaders. Equipped with detailed information, the management can pick out repetitive processes and further streamline workflows.
Companies and individual departments can also create their own frameworks based on distinct business processes, to maximize project efficiency and employee productivity.
Embracing the Digital Workplace to Improve Operations
With proper training, implementation, and leadership, the digital workplace can become a company’s greatest asset. Digital tools spread over an increasing number of business processes across industries provides noticeable efficiency gains. Ultimately, through technology, companies can save time and resources at the same time extend their capabilities.
Azeus Convene can help your company set up a digital workplace by equipping you with tools for digital collaboration and remote meetings. To learn more about our products and services, contact us.