Maximising the digital workplace

Everyone uses technology, but is it making them more productive?
Understand how your employees co-operate and dismiss your conception of the office.
The way we work has changed dramatically, and today’s workplace looks and feels very different to how it did just a decade ago. There are physical changes – open-plan offices, tablets and hot-desking – but the structure of work is changing as well.
Social media, cloud computing, mobile and big data are permeating every organisation. Yet with every change comes opportunity, and if done properly, the digital workplace can be a competitive asset to an organisation – enabling employees to collaborate more effectively and bringing more value to customers. Here are three ways you can make the most of the technologically advanced workplace.

TECHNOLOGY FOR YOU

Today’s workers are technologically savvy. Smartphones, tablets and other personal devices have infiltrated the workplace, and no doubt wearable technology will soon do the same. Employees are not only using these technologies to do basic work tasks like email and phone calls, but also to easily access information while on the go. The pitfall is that many companies are deploying these technologies on an ad hoc basis, without first identifying the right devices, then setting clear objectives for their use.
Be clear on what technology your employees are using and how, as well as what support they still need. The digital workplace requires a culture shift, trust and giving employees a voice on what tools will make them more productive. This process is a lot easier if you have a good understanding of how your employees currently collaborate, so you can deploy tools that build on and enhance their current set-up.

COLLABORATION ANYWHERE

The London 2012 Olympics was a great case study for remote working. During that summer, fewer people were on the streets, partly because they were warned about a rush of tourists, but also because many London businesses were trialling flexible working practices. They realised that these not only worked, but worked seamlessly. Technology can be a true complement to time in the office, but the real sign that you are in a digital workplace is when location becomes irrelevant.
Remember that digital technology isn’t just a functionality shift, or designed to make us work harder or longer – it is about flexing the boundaries of what we call the “office” and extending it beyond its traditional confines through technology that helps deliver better services and value for customers. Also remember that every technological change has a psychological element attached to it – technology and people are closely connected, and this is particularly true in a digital workplace. So prepare your plans, taking into account the impact on your people.

NO ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL

Analyst firm Gartner has said that a digital business “promises to usher in an unprecedented convergence of people, business, and things that disrupt existing business models.”
This is the key to the digital workplace – its ability to unleash new sources of value by transforming processes and bringing people together.
Despite technologies being the same across many businesses, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building a digital workplace, so why not turn your gaze inwards and do a bit of corporate navel gazing? Every business is unique – and the tools must fit the context. Your digital workplace should be moulded to suit your business needs and the needs of your employees and customers.
This isn’t about building an open-plan office and letting people work from home. It is about diligently building an infrastructure to sustain physical and digital ways of working, thinking and doing business.
Pamela Maynard is president of Europe, Africa and Latin America at global business technology solutions, cloud and managed services provider Avanade.

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