2020 was an incredibly challenging period for the vast majority, but there have been many positive developments in terms of how we work and it's important to continue some of the key work-based improvements. Read our blog to discover the evolution of work modes throughout 2021.
Digital Workplace: 2021 & Beyond
The workplace has evolved. No longer is there one standard definition of what a workplace is but instead many intertwining and quite often, interchangeable definitions. One thing remains certain, however, the workplace has radically transformed, both in terms of how we work and how we interact with one another. Digital workplaces are renowned for their ability to improve efficiency and connect businesses in ways that traditional setups never could. Many workplaces are now digital, meaning that a majority of operations are carried out within or contained within a cloud. For those trying to get the grips with the concept of a digital workplace, it can be described (in more general terms) as an online SaaS platform that utilises various software-based tools to achieve maximum efficiency and engagement across a business.
For the last few decades technology has grown increasingly pervasive. Our everyday lives are now dominated by it. In the world of work, it’s no different. Digital technology now founds the basis of the vast majority of our work processes, granting us more power and flexibility than we've ever had before.
Digital technology has well and truly shaped the way in which we work and how we interact with one another. These days people aren’t restricted to the confines of an office the same way in which they would have been 20 years ago. Deskless workers are becoming increasingly common and frequently rely on finding new ways to maintain contact with their colleagues.
By using a combination of interconnected technologies, today’s modern deskless workers are able to bring a newfound sense of versatility to the fold. For many, immediate contact with their colleagues is nothing more than one click away. But it’s not only deskless workers that are now benefiting from the relentless technological advancement of the 21st century.
Traditional ‘onsite’ workers are now also reaping the rewards of improved connectivity and increased collaboration between their teams and departments. Digital workplace software is having a profound effect on the ways in which we work. It not only inspires people to be more communicative but builds bridges between people that may not have otherwise had the opportunity to interact. With better communication comes more efficiency and with more efficiency comes more productivity. Fact.
A Necessary Evolution
Technology and the many solutions that it has provided didn’t all come about in some kind of split second 'eureka moment'. In fact, it's far from it. Like many things, innovation comes in bursts, inspired by our previous successes and failures. We can’t create what we can’t envision and we can't envision what we can't create. Innovation is a slow process and despite what you might think, it always has been.
It takes a long time for something that's dull and uninspired and change into something new and exciting. It’s a similar story in the world of work. Things like email, document storage, HR systems, payroll, knowledge bases have all evolved from something before them. Perhaps they were created out of necessity, by accident or simply because a previous system wasn’t efficient enough.
Either way, they didn’t happen overnight. These new technologies were slowly drip-fed, one by one into the workplaces that we all know and (hopefully) love today. Whilst the technologies and new innovations may have solved the individual problems they were designed to solve, they often proved incompatible with one another, making any kind of integration a monotonous and thankless task. Wrangling applications quickly turned into an administrative nightmare, and sharing information between the different platforms proved impractical and cumbersome.
This lack of integration can be largely attributed to the fact that the developers tasked with creating the various apps didn't make them compatible with one another in the first place. Although, this was hardly the fault of the developers. They were simply doing as they were told. Through no fault of their own the developers valiantly completed the tasks that they were given to do: to find and create a solution to common problems through technical means. Looking back, it all makes sense to have everything working in unison. But as we all know, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
In Melissa Perri’s ‘The Build Trap’, she explains that many developers are caught in an endless cycle of developing, simply for the sake of it. Rather than addressing customer needs or requirements, new builds are instead focused around making up numbers. This overall lack of governance and cohesion often led to a messy experience for modern-day workforces. Tools worked independently, rather than one comprehensive, intuitive work-based application.
But as it always does, out of necessity comes action.
Through years of impracticality and office-based turmoil, the digital workplace was born. Addressing a need to bring teams and work processes together, a faster, more efficient and collaborative workspace was ready to come to light.
What Can A Digital Workplace Do for Me?
Now that we have a rough idea of what a digital workplace is and where it came from, now it's time to understand how it can benefit you and your business. A digital workplace, as we have already discussed, can be many things. A good digital workplace should match its users needs and requirements. The possibilities are far-reaching, and can in many cases used to facilitate growth and engagement .
1. Increase in Revenue
Digital workplaces save your team time and are an extremely efficient tool to use for any business. They’re often praised for their ability to make traditional work processes much simpler and offer much more flexibility than other alternatives.
Time is money, whatever the industry. Let’s say for example, a business was to enter into a new agreement with a prospective customer or large stakeholder. It could take an entire team a whole week to compile a series of important business documents from which they have to source from multiple teams and departments or dig through an endless sea of files to get to what they needed.
With a digital workplace, you can store all of your documents in one secure, cloud-based location for everyone to access and collaborate with each other in real-time. No more endless sifting and no more unnecessary back and forth over email. A digital workplace can save hours of unnecessary administration and help your team focus on the tasks that really matter, making your employees more productive and your business more profitable.
2.Increased Connectivity & Collaboration
Maintaining communication is important in any aspect of life. In the workplace it’s essential. Digital workplaces are well known for their ability to improve the communication capabilities of those that use them. Through shared areas, collaboration tools and instant messenger, employees can stay in touch at all times and benefit from a constant stream of relevant and insightful information from their colleagues.
Messaging can be instantaneous and can be linked to a desktop, tablet or phone, meaning that staff can take messages, wherever they are. Often, dedicated groups can be created to discuss a certain topic or project, allowing people to engage and get involved. Maintaining communication is important in any aspect of life. In the workplace it’s critical.
3. Improve Employee Engagement
Digital Workplaces are a great way for employees to keep connected with their teammates and keep engaged with their company. With the introduction of self-guided content and gamification, employees are encouraged to engage and interact with one another. Such engagement can lead to a stronger alignment towards a collective vision and prove extremely valuable for companies looking to inspire loyalty and advocacy.
4. Increased Employee Wellbeing
Employee wellbeing is considered extremely important in today’s modern workplace, and rightly so. Looking after your employees’ wellbeing can be extremely beneficial in several ways. Employees that feel well in themselves both physically and mentally are: less likely to take absences, more likely to feel engaged and be more productive.Furthermore, those employees that feel like their place of work supports employee well being will be 89% more likely to recommend the company to others.
This being the case, many digital workplaces now have tools for employees to address and outline problems as and when they arise. Many platforms now facilitate whistle blowing functionality for employees that allows staff to flag issues to the appropriate leadership team. Many also integrate HR and support systems into their platforms giving their employees access to the resources that they need when they need it.
Increased recognition can also go a long way in making a team member feel like a valued part of the organisation.Digital workplaces often include functionality for HR personnel or senior leadership teams to identify successes amongst their teams and share it with the larger team, helping their staff to feel valued and more incentivised to work.
Intranet vs. Digital Workplace – what’s the difference?
Quite often, Digital Workplaces and Intranets are understood to be one and the same. In reality, it couldn’t be much further from the truth. Before we start comparing one against the other, let’s look at what an intranet is, and what they do. An Intranet is defined by the Oxford dictionary as a “local or restricted communications network, especially a private network created using World Wide Web software.”
Traditional Intranets are very much driven by functionality, and in many cases pose a great number of administrative benefits. They are, however, very limited. Usually, an intranet serves a limited number of core functionalities, meaning that other apps are also needed to fulfil the necessary requirements of a modern-day office.As we mentioned earlier, using a large number of independent apps can get particularly messy, confusing and downright irritating.
With all the rapidly accelerating advancements of today’s technology, it may come as no surprise that the Intranet is more than just a little outdated. When compared The Digital Workplace takes all of this administration and corralling of your applications out the picture.
Apps are often integrated into the system or installed as 3rd party plugins to be used in conjunction with the software, leading to a much more seamless and user-friendly experience. Digital workplaces have in many ways left the traditional intranet outgunned and outmatched.
In summary, a digital workplace is what you make it. The most important takeaway, though? Embrace technology and reap the many benefits that it offers your business. Don’t and you’ll fall behind, period. The best and most successful companies in the world are making strides to make their teams more connected and engaged than ever before. Recognising the importance of connectivity and versatility is paramount to staying competitive in today’s saturated market. With a strong team at your back, your goals are that much more achievable. Without strong, connected, foundations, however, you’ll only ever be destined to collapse.