6 steps to establishing a digital workplace

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Gartner predicted that by 2020, the greatest source of competitive advantage for 30 percent of organizations will come from the workforce's ability to creatively exploit digital technologies. Businesses intent on digital transformation are gaining that advantage by adopting a digital workplace to build cutting-edge teams.

In a survey by Avande, organizations that have achieved a true digital workplace report a bottom-line impact of:

  • Increased productivity—67 percent
  • Employee engagement—53 percent
  • Revenue growth—43 percent

Industry leaders understand digital workplace implementation is not just accumulating a pile of tech tools, but connecting a strategically selected number of systems to a unified platform where employees can collaborate and perform multiple types of work. If your business wants to stay in the game, it's time to pursue a digital workplace, but making the transition isn't as daunting as it may seem.

Why adopt a digital workplace?

If a new plan is rolled out and no one understands the purpose, success will be minimal. Defining the principles behind a new strategy is imperative.

● Productivity can skyrocket under well-defined standards and streamlined operations. Solow of Deloitte commented that digital workplace technology can improve productivity and efficiency by offering flexibility, mobility, and self-service options for administrative and HR-related tasks.

● Structured collaboration cuts down on miscommunication, and workers aren’t overwhelmed by multiple communication channels.

● Improved user experience leads to stronger employee engagement, subsequently raising employee retention up to 78 percent.

● Connectivity breeds creativity—a unified, cohesive platform reduces siloed data and empowers employees by providing easy access to all the resources they need to innovate.

● Eliminate shadow IT concerns such as compromised security, noncompliance, and loss of intellectual property ownership by giving employees the tools they need.

● Attracting talent is essential for progress, and top-notch workers are looking for tech-forward companies.

Six steps to establish a digital workplace

For maximum effectiveness, be sure your change management team is committed to involving stakeholders at all levels in deployment. While working through these steps, tap into valuable insight from line workers, executives, or anyone in between for a complete picture.

1. Consider the types of work you manage

In general, there are four categories of work. Repetitive processes follow the same workflow, such as expense approval requests. One-time projects—planning a new product release, for example—aren’t repeated but still require coordination and collaboration. Cases begin similarly but produce varying outcomes, like a warranty claim. Ad-hoc conversations cover miscellaneous work-related topics. What examples apply to your company?

2. Consider what information needs to be shared across teams

Departments often need to exchange information to complete tasks. Take employee onboarding, for example. Human resources staff walk new hires through paperwork and training, but they need IT for online logins. HR shares the new hire data with IT, and IT provides access to the relevant software programs.

Sharing too much information or the wrong information could be counterproductive, so set explicit standards for the required information.

3. Identify key systems

What other programs does your organization depend on to build processes and projects? Are there any single-function systems that could be moved into the digital workplace? For instance, if you already use a collaboration tool, conversations could be transferred to the digital workplace.

Other systems, such as accounting software or customer relationship management systems, don't fall under the scope of a digital workplace but can be integrated on the cloud, reducing manual data transfers and enabling lightning-speed reporting.

4. Create a digital workplace strategy

“Building a successful digital workplace demands a fresh approach to business processes and removing the activities that get in the way of solving business challenges,” says Gartner. What top business needs or problems should be addressed through a digital workplace? Prioritize needs and define how a digital workplace should solve each problem.

A new digital tool is only as good as its’ implementers—the employees. Define how a digital workplace will engage employees more than the current tools.

5. Build workflows

An ideal digital workplace empowers citizen developers with a strong understanding of the steps and stakeholders involved in a workflow to build automated processes, projects, and case flows through an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface.

Don’t get discouraged if the first run doesn’t go smoothly. Testing and tweaking is a normal part of the learning curve. Real-time analytics also provide feedback for modifying workflows to maximize productivity.

6. Work in public

A digital workplace should be human-centered, creating an opportunity for synergy between employees and departments as they share information and ideas. Team members can celebrate achievements together, hold each other accountable, and work openly and honestly in a transparent environment. Establishing best practices for communication keeps expectations clear across the board.

Empowering your personnel to boost effectiveness and productivity through digital workplace adoption is not a mammoth-sized venture. One step at a time, your organization can be on its way to stronger customer service, higher long-term profits, and a fully engaged workforce.

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