The way we work has changed drastically in the last 50 years — even in just the last 5 years. For many of us, these changes include virtual work, new digital tools and services, and more attention to employee engagement (hopefully). With so many efforts vying for attention, your organization needs a game plan for this new digital age.
What is the “digital workplace”?
Gartner describes the digital workplace as “a business strategy for promoting employee effectiveness and engagement through a more consumer-like computing environment.” Gartner tells us that the Nexus of Forces (mobile, information, cloud, and social) is acting as a catalyst for consumerization, but when it comes to their employees, most businesses are responding to these trends in a fragmentary way — piece by piece. Here are just a few changes Gartner tells us we’re seeing in the workplace today:
- A shift from routine, repetitive work patterns to variable, dynamic work
- A greater focus on employee engagement (often through HR-led engagement programs)
- New forms of internal (employee) and external (customer) interaction enabled by social networking environments like Twitter and Facebook
- New ways of working, such as crowdsourcing, job sharing, and microwork
There isn’t just one right way to build a digital workplace. The idea is to approach the business benefits of consumerization by effectively analyzing and acting upon them in a strategic fashion for internal rewards. Not every organization has the capacity to make the necessary changes quickly, but it’s possible for every organization to have a strategy in place to guide investments.
Benefits of the digital workplace
Gartner tells us that in some cases, HR may spearhead digital workplace initiatives by leading a program that seeks to promote employee engagement by focusing on employee/manager relationships, workplace culture, autonomous decision-making, work-life balance, and personal growth opportunities. This effort champions an IT-led digital workplace because moving toward a more consumer-friendly digital environment benefits from HR-led engagement programs; meaning that engaged workers are more likely to be active participants in the digital era. And a more consumer-like work environment (digitally speaking) contributes to overall employee engagement by making current computing resources more accessible, which in turn leads to empowered employees, feelings of ownership, and greater expertise in the field.
According to Gartner, if the move to a digital workplace goes well, organizations can expect the following benefits of a more flexible partnership between IT talent and business:
- Consumer-grade technology that lives up to employee expectations
- An emphasis on mobility, user experience, and choice — all of which facilitates an engaged workforce
- Intuitive, user-friendly access to cohesive data repositories and in-house expertise, providing better returns on information assets
- A community-oriented collaboration/social networking platform that promotes innovation and knowledge sharing
- A focus on shorter, iterative development cycles and design simplicity, improving the ability to exploit accelerating business cycles
Beyond its benefits, preparing for and moving to the digital workplace should also inform a greater conversation across the C-Suite about business performance, workforce effectiveness, management styles, customer and partner relationships, and company culture. For more on making the move to a more digital-friendly workplace and engaging workers in the process, read our ebook, The Future of Employee Engagement.