The way we work has transformed dramatically in recent times. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the workplace was evolving to meet the needs of a global workforce. It is no longer simply a physical space, an office, a desk. But even as we continue into this new agile age of work, it’s still not entirely clear: what does the term ‘digital workplace’ actually mean?
Some see the terms ‘digital workplace’ and ‘intranet’ as interchangeable, but that isn’t the case. It’s certainly true that a well-structured intranet is a go-to location for all digital work, with exciting new features bringing teams together and increasing business transparency.
However, old-fashioned legacy intranets can be bulky and static. Often built on outdated systems, they become dumping grounds for content, unread internal policies, and newsletters. In this world of instant gratification and innovative tech, an obsolete intranet system can decrease employee engagement and usability. It can actually have the opposite effect of digital transformation on the workplace.
What Is The Digital Workplace?
For many organizations, their current environment and technology stack is too often scattered between software and apps, and information is dispersed randomly. The digital workplace can help fix this. It has a significant impact on the employee experience by automating mundane admin jobs and increasing work accuracy, allowing employees to find resources, data, and information as and when they need it. As the tech develops, internal communicators are starting to understand just how impactful digitizing the employee experience can be.
Developments in technology are to be welcomed by organizations rather than feared. With innovation rife in automation, AI, and digital tools, what else can be expected within the digital workplace of tomorrow? For years, analysts and business leaders alike have been anticipating and discussing ‘the future of the digital workplace’ and what that means for how we work.
Regardless of the size, sector, or ongoing technological investment, every business operates digitally on some level. And intranets fit right in with any digital transformation strategy. Intranet software has evolved significantly since its inception, but undergoing a successful deployment is only the first step towards a digital workplace. Employee uptake, and ongoing engagement, is key.
Building connections between a business and its employees starts with the right tools. Employees may be spread across different locations and time zones, but intranet software can connect all those moving parts from a central point. It becomes a gateway, the go-to destination for employee support, and the center of any digital workplace strategy.
Reacting To The Impact Of COVID-19
There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a shift in how organizations run their operations and manage their people. Business continuity was only made possible thanks to technology. New tools have been leveraged to meet unprecedented employee needs so that organizations can adapt to unique circumstances and keep everyone connected during the outbreak.
No matter what stage of digital transformation an organization was at before the pandemic, it’s likely there was an urgent requirement to push through new tools, platforms, or processes at pace. Even those who were better prepared needed to adjust to the ‘new normal’. It’s safe to assume the rapid and unforeseen impact of COVID-19 probably sped up or changed those transformation initiatives as businesses scrambled to adapt to full-scale remote working.
When forced to move fast, compromises are needed. Organizations may waiver normal governance, due diligence, or strategy, place a lower emphasis on the user experience, or need to leave gaps that can be filled when pressures lift. Many large organizations also struggled with increased network loads, security concerns, and more.
As a result of these urgently made decisions in the wake of the ‘new normal’, technology and business decisions may not match the environment or needs identified before the pandemic. Workforces may continue working remotely, either full-time or in a hybrid format, for the foreseeable future. Organizations, therefore, must adapt to customer or client operations to meet new standards for service provision safely.
Moving Forward With Technology
Some employees are wary when their employer introduces a new technology due to a fear of being replaced. But they should embrace change, as transforming the digital workplace will make their lives easier and free them to do more meaningful tasks within their roles. The success of intranet software relies on usability and belief in its value; it is designed to help workers be more productive and immediately impact internal collaboration and business output.
With skills shortages in many industries, aging employees, and increased regulation, harnessing the power of a global workforce is inevitable. At a time of rapid technological change, developments like wearables, intranet software, and smartphone apps all have unique value to the digital workplace.
With hardware getting smaller, lighter, and technology getting more intelligent and innovative, it no longer seems as far-fetched as it was just a decade ago. In some sectors, contacting employees through a device like a smartwatch poses far less disruption than a laptop or smartphone. Critical information can be accessed wherever, in the field, in a meeting, or on the road.
The possibilities for the digital workplace are endless, and their potential is vast. If aligned successfully with intranet software, the countless opportunities will revolutionize the way organizations operate. From communication and collaboration to mental wellbeing and business transparency, using a creative solution to unite and digitize the workplace enables and empowers.
The Holmes Report states that poor communication has cost organizations $37billion in recent years due to employees simply misunderstanding job functions, business processes, and policies. Business-wide conversations aren’t always easy, particularly in global enterprises. With a mixture of cultures, leadership styles, and differences in employee needs, communication can be a challenge.
The digital workplace creates an effective communication channel, allowing the organization and its employees to connect and interact. The business can report changes, provide updates, give general information, and control who sees that content so that it stays relevant. This prevents employees from getting overwhelmed. By ensuring everyone is receiving tailored communication when necessary, and business-wide updates simultaneously, senior managers increase consistency and transparency.
While allowing the workforce to choose their preferred methods of communication, the digital workplace provides a way for employees to be creative, share ideas and give feedback. In addition, better communication helps the business mitigate conflicts, creating a vibrant company culture and brand, and building stronger employee and customer relationships.
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