There’s a lot of buzz and confusion around the term “digital workplace.” Many businesses make the words digital workplace a synonym for their collaboration tools, intranet software, and various network solutions.
A Digital Workplace in 2020 is not just your tools.
Your tools are essential, but they’re a shortsighted view of what a digital workplace can be. Leaders need to look beyond the past and into the future about how a digital workplace might really transform the entire ecosystem of work.
Where to look to for the digital workplace.
We interviewed business leaders around the world to see what they had to say about what a digital workplace is and what are the problems it will solve in 2020. We asked, “How will a digital workplace help you at work in 2020?” Here are their most common responses.
1. Kill tab switching.
“I think the biggest challenge of the digital workplace is that we all have like 20 applications and 100 tabs open at once, with Slack, email, and text notifications popping in overtop of it all. In 2020, I’ll be looking at any applications or systems that will help me avoid that kind of context switching so I can be more productive,” said Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva.
Context switching is a real problem that most people do not think about. It is the new age equivalent of people dropping by your desk to discuss ‘work,’ ‘not work,’ and everything in between. It is affecting productivity in ways we don’t realize.
Data silos are the main reasons for tab switching. A classic example is the use of emails for ‘official’ internal communications and chats for all other communication. Despite some apparent differences, there aren’t standard rules in place for when to use each form. Thus, when it comes time to find the details of communication, you now have to search at least two places to find what you need.
API integrations can fetch data from different apps and significantly reduce tab switching. However, it does not eliminate it. To have a higher impact on eliminating tab switching, transition your operations to multi-functional platforms from separate disparate tools.
2. Collaboration tools should work in tandem with projects.
“The capabilities I want from a digital workplace are the following. First, I need a capable communication platform, which lets me send texts and make audio and video calls, as well as share my screen. Next, I need a feature that lets me manage my projects better. We built a tool that aims to blend these two together, and I think it’s doing a good job so far,” says Dmytro Okunyev, Founder at Chanty.
Many organizations are trying to build their own tools to bring their communication into their projects. Each project needs high-end analytics and reporting capabilities toessential get control and insights over all the activities running within.
The next challenge is to take these insights into actions, to manage work, people, and their collaboration in one go. Many enterprises build their own tools for the purposes of customizability and data security. They cost a fortune but get the job done efficiently.
However, there are some collaborative project management tools that SMBs and mid-markets could use to get the job done. They can still catch up with their enterprise giants if they realize this problem and start acting upon it.
3. Improved knowledge management.
“We can also expect enterprises to pay greater attention to their employees’ competences and knowledge augmentation. In this context, digital workplaces could get expanded with previously unavailable knowledge management features. I am looking forward to welcoming software solutions capable of sorting out batches of business content, and capturing valuable knowledge that could be further automatically relocated to employees’ competence centers, as well as shared across teams and communities,” says Alex Paretski, Knowledge Manager at Itransition Group.
In today’s dynamic work environment, it is important to document and manage information that needs to be on common grounds for all-round access. Getting new employees up to speed is more comfortable when they can find the resources by themselves and fill their knowledge gaps.
It also lightens the load on all teams when users can search for information right at their fingertips with ease — it merely gives a better experience for employees. With powerful search tools that can understand queries based on the context, a digital workplace should have knowledge management as a priority for every organization.
4. Increased productivity with remote work.
“As more people work from non-traditional locations (even within a traditional office), it’s critical for employees to provide tools to enable productivity while being mobile. The Capital One 2019 Work Environment Survey found that 61 percent of professionals expect their next employer to offer flexible hours, and 54 percent expect the ability to work remotely. To meet those expectations, business leaders and employees must make smart technology choices that allow for collaboration and seamless work/life integration,” says Christian Teismann, Senior VP & General Manager at Lenovo.
Remote work has been on the rise over the last decade. It allows employees to work at their own time and place. Studies have shown that the performance of employees increases when they work remotely. But how to make remote work a reality that works for both the organization and employees?
The best way forward is to give employees the right digital tools to stay connected to work. It has to be the right mix of providing maximum functionality and flexibility along with data security. To keep a tab on everything, it is also necessary to reduce the number of apps used by employees to get more visibility.
5. Employee-centric approach while adapting to new technology.
While software applications are expected to become more intelligent, employees will need to be empowered to leverage these technologies to become more effective and productive.
Until now, the solution to any work problem is looking for digital tools. However, the biggest mistake is assuming that buying and implementing a tool will solve the problem automatically. Make sure that employees adapt to a new work culture with those new tools. Only then will you see a significant change in ROI. After all, employees are human beings with habits that are hard to change.
How to approach a digital workplace?
Digital workplace initiatives are bringing in a lot of benefits to businesses of all sizes. Even if the term ‘digital workplace’ is loosely defined, it is necessary for leaders to try and understand why people are talking about it.
The ideal approach to your digital workplace should be to identify the current needs of your business, get digital tools if required, and implement them in the system through people. The vision for a digital workplace is an ongoing wave. Better to ride it than be late to the party.