Understanding the “digital workplace” in 5 questions

According to two studies recently cited by Forbes, around 36% of the global workforce may be working remotely. This mode of operation was imposed when the Covid-19 pandemic, cloistered a good part of the planet at home. However, working remotely and having access to a well-designed “digital workplace” are two different things. Here are five points that distinguish these two approaches.

1. What is a “digital workplace”?

In short, a “digital workplace” (also known as a “digital workplace”) is the dematerialized equivalent of a physical workplace. Of course, this explanation is particularly simplistic! Indeed, the transition between an environment (offices and systems) which has embodied our professional life for a century and an interconnected and seamless virtual experience cannot be limited to the simple “digitization of objects”.

According to the Deloitte firm, this “natural evolution of the workplace encompasses all the technologies that employees currently use to perform their duties – whether these technologies are in service or in the future.. This vision implies – and rightly so – that the digital workplace is constantly evolving with technological and business needs.

For its part, Gartner defines the digital workplace as a “business strategy that aims to stimulate employee engagement and agility in a more consumerized work environment”. This is an interesting approach because it implies that the benefit of a cloud-based workplace is actually allowing employees to work more efficiently. Gartner’s term “consumerized” means that the technology used to drive the digital transformation should be as simple and user-friendly as the applications and graphical interfaces we use in our daily lives.

Access to information is a key part of the equation. In other words, a successful digital workplace should make it easy for employees to find the information, knowledge, applications and people they need to accomplish their missions.

2. What are the benefits of a digital workplace?

They are obvious – for example the decentralization of operations or the reduction of overheads and risks. By eliminating the geographic boundary of office buildings altogether, the digital workplace makes it possible to attract talent regardless of where they are.

But as Gartner points out, the real benefit of the digital workplace is in improving the employee experience. Criteria such as the lack of transport to get to the office, the reduction of problems encountered throughout the day, the possibility of working as you wish (goodbye to traditional office hours) represent particularly motivating and positive arguments.

Helping employees easily find what they are looking for is another key element in the success of this process. For example, a study published by McKinsey indicates that employees spend up to 20% of their time searching for information. A digital workplace that relies on technology designed to facilitate this search between different systems, formats and languages ​​will save employees hours and hours of frustration.

Such time savings are synonymous with increased productivity. The ability to access the information they seek allows employees to better understand their work and to be more efficient in their functions. It also frees them from certain routine tasks for the benefit of creativity with, in the long term, greater fulfillment and increased loyalty.

3. How to integrate a digital workplace?

The digital workplace has evolved significantly over the years to accommodate multiple interconnected technologies. But while Sharepoint sharing sites, employee collaboration software, customer management systems, and other specific business applications help make remote work smoother, each of these tools holds valuable data and information, but including access is partitioned.

To break down the silos that isolate these tools from each other, organizations need technology that allows them to collaborate and access information securely. This is where the concept of intelligent business research comes in.

Take the example of a call center. The lambda operator has to use between 4 and 15 different applications to get the information he needs. It is a complex, tedious and frustrating experience. Equipped with a solution ofintelligent search, this same agent will be able to search for the name of a customer and instantly know their complete profile, namely the documents they have requested, the history of their transactions with the call center, their interactions with chatbots, the statement of his payments, etc. This unified approach not only reduces the time it takes to fulfill his request, but also the number of systems that our agent must master.

To create such a search experience, it is essential to have a good understanding of the digital workplace use scenario (s): what kind of information is needed? Where do they reside? How will they be used and in what form should they be presented? Collaboration between the CIO, employees and company management, as well as the provision of clearly established advice and procedures, also play a decisive role in the successful deployment of a company search tool and its integration into the digital workplace.

4. How do you manage productivity in the digital workplace?

Digital transformation is extremely time consuming and resource intensive. To create a truly effective digital workplace, setting clear goals is essential. It is not a priori not difficult to explain to senior managers how the various changes envisaged will impact the company’s activity. If not, it is imperative to check if they really match your goals.

With a clearly defined vision and strategy, you can then collaborate with your colleagues across disciplines to determine how the digital workplace will improve employee engagement in their respective fields. How to reduce routine tasks to promote creativity and teamwork? What will be the impact on current processes, organizational structure and culture? At this point, it is crucial to understand how employees actually work – not how leaders think that they work – with the aim of establishing a roadmap whose impact will be real and quantifiable.

As the goal is to improve the employee experience, be sure to minimize their worries about the transition by providing training, as well as sharing rules and best practices. Set specific, measurable goals, and identify the metrics you will need to measure performance – for example, measuring time spent on collaboration tools, measuring satisfaction through employee surveys, collaborating with HR on employee retention data, etc.

5. Why is it so important now?

Last December, the Gartner firm said the percentage of “physical” meetings would drop from 60% to 25% of company meetings between 2019 and 2024 due to the adoption of telecommuting and the evolution of the workforce.[2]. In March 2020, this four-year interval was compressed into around thirty days …

When the containment measures were imposed, all employees who had the opportunity to work from home took the plunge. Industries and businesses that never imagined they could operate in a virtual environment soon realized that they were quite capable of it.

But the acceleration of digital transformation has given rise to many tinkering. As it becomes clearer every day that there will be no “back to normal”, companies are fully committed to achieving a true digital workplace. According to a survey published in June by the McKinsey firm, 85% of respondents say they have “relatively or significantly accelerated the implementation of technologies favoring collaboration and interaction with employees”. This is good news for employees who have also been asked to adapt more quickly than expected.

Today more than ever, the digital workplace is not a practical arrangement, but an inescapable evolution. Companies that take this step successfully will reap many benefits: more fulfilled employees, increased productivity and long-term growth.

Laurent Fanichet, Vice-President Marketing at Sinequa

Expert opinions are published under the full responsibility of their authors and in no way commit the editorial staff of L’Usine Digitale.

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