Thinking of transforming your office into a digital workplace? This guide will help get started.

Cloud-based applications and smoothly integrated IT systems are hardly new concepts; however, against the backdrop of the global pandemic, more businesses are accelerating toward digital workplaces for all of their organization’s operations. The potential impacts of a digital workplace on a successful business are more significant than ever before.

In order to survive, businesses must transform to meet the demands of the environment. But thriving businesses recognize that this transformation will involve more than installing a new piece of software. A comprehensive company will provide employees with ample training to give their best performances, and they will prioritize configuring new technologies as part of day-to-day workflows, rather than introducing them as frustrating extra steps. With remote work increasingly the trend of corporate culture, cultivating an efficient digital workplace becomes critical for attracting and maintaining an elite talent pool.

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A vision and clear objectives for a tool

The state of your digital workplace should benefit employees, customers and stakeholders. Identifying potential advantages for each group should help you create a vision that aligns with your future business goals. Openly communicating goals and benefits provides stated company direction and helps employees get on the same page, regardless of physical location.

As a functional starting point, a payroll system is the perfect place to begin organizing. By maintaining a single database, you can easily consult top-level data to inform everything from talent acquisition to payroll management. Payroll is often the most accessible, important first step for digital workplace management.

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Business stakeholders and their senior teams are key

Companies often overlook their stakeholders and prioritize partnerships between HR, IT and communication departments. While communication across departments is important, your stakeholders should take center stage.

Any significant organizational overhaul of content, governance and digital tools or the design of the digital workplace should strengthen stakeholder trust and open the door for stakeholder feedback. Not all of this feedback is created equally, but as we drift toward decentralized work, elevated communication goes a long way in establishing a strong relationships.

Before making major technology platform selections, establish the digital workplace’s scope and purpose. These transformations can be extensive, time-consuming and in need of supportive leadership. Secure buy-in from the rest of the C-suite and board of directors.

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Be compelling when launching your platform

Before you launch your digital workspace, build the buzz to generate employee advocacy and promote public interest. Your launch should reflect your company’s values; this is a long-term play affecting the way your organization is perceived. Before launching, build comfort and openness to the changes via collections of screenshots, e-postcards, countdown clocks and promotions. Consult a marketing team. Share the journey through humorous videos, live demos, online competitions and leadership blogs.

Ultimately, any effort will fall flat if the content isn’t interesting or informative. On the other hand, providing digital tools that can benefit your workforce while showing valuable content to prospective customers can assure smoother long-term adoption of your strategy.

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Change champions for recruitment and support

Most of all, the success of your digital workplace rests on your best assets: your employees. By fostering enthusiastic employees, you set up a team of experts and local champions to promote your workplace, support new tools, overcome challenges and provide thoughtful feedback for improvement.

In return for their regular efforts, employee voices should be included in the design of communications protocols, new technology adoptions and peer-to-peer sharing. When employees are able to affect their workplace at the process level, you create a more engaged workforce.

Employee education is important

Workplace inclusivity is becoming more important as more candidate pools are no longer limited by geography. Tech knowledge, confidence levels and skill levels differ across employees. Online training programs can cater to individual skill levels. Cast a wide net for assessments of capabilities. Furthermore, induction and onboarding programs for new employees are critical in cultivating warm welcomes for remote workers. Eventually, as you showcase the benefits of your digital workplace, you can boost your company’s value in the eyes of potential hires.

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Furthermore, allow adequate time for training. Hire personnel to help them re-skill or train as necessary.

A good leader shows the way

The leader-employee dynamic takes a different turn in the digital workplace. It allows leaders to authentically connect with employees one-to-one. Through blogs, comments and feedback on articles, leaders can effectively collaborate with employees, creating a healthy work environment. Employees can be seen and heard.

In addition, leaders can lead by example. Embracing innovative changes, encouraging employees and being active across platforms creates visible online leadership for an effective digital workspace.

Migrate activity from ‘push’ channels

There are both upsides and downsides to technology-driven workspaces. With the influx of information from emails, webinars and newsletters, employees can become overwhelmed, and key data may be lost. For instance, if you want to pass along a corporate message via email before posting on the digital workplace, you are unlikely to get much reach or any feedback. On the other hand, posting directly on the digital workplace encourages interaction and ownership so employees may access it and share their views. Savvy leaders understand what it means to use the right channel at the right time.

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Your governance model must be effective

A clear governance model is integral for a smoother workflow. Assigning roles for managers, stakeholders and contributors nurtures more effective management structure and defined ownership of processes. This lays a strong foundation for your organization, leading to sustainable success.

Governance usually consists of three elements:

  • policy: protocols for employees
  • guidelines: best practices for employees
  • standards: established practices for consistent user experience and brand

Improve by measuring success act

On some level, your business goals should be measurable, and they should align with your digital workplace metrics. This means setting up key performance indicators for your digital workplace that your employees can understand and prioritize when working. Creating a digital scorecard by using analytics to calculate IT, HR and business metrics leads to transparency and clear expectations.

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For example, as your company grows to reflect a remote environment, your metrics should measure how well your digital workplace supports employees across time zones, languages and mobile access.

This type of workforce effectiveness, employee satisfaction and information retention can be a great way to refine your approach to management. Digital business metrics provide tangible feedback to the value of your investments. You can understand the returns on senior management and technology investments more clearly when you’ve established a meaningful measurement system.

The benefit of regular, meaningful measurements allows you to uncover best practices and tailor your actions accordingly.

Create a program for ongoing adoption

Your effort for a digital workplace doesn’t end with the teasers and launch. Like any habitat, it requires regular cleaning and maintenance. Remember that each employee may not use every aspect at all times. Your job is to continue sharing key information, ideas, activities and evidence on your digital workplace platform, maintaining value while eliminating clutter.

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Good strategy is key

With a lot of moving parts like research and development, manufacturing, marketing, customer support, sales, HR and IT, it becomes key to have a shared blueprint for intra-department communication. Ask questions and receive feedback: How will you raise employee engagement levels? Can technology make workflows less complicated? How can you improve employee creativity and allow collaboration in your workspace?

In order to reduce employee anxiety surrounding new technology, it is important to first clearly understand and agree on strategy.

Employee persona is crucial

The importance of employee personas in any digital workplace initiative is indispensable, helping enterprises establish baselines for staff work streams. Again, you may find that not every employee touches every aspect of the digital workplace at all times.

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For instance, investment company BNY Mellon established a persona model that defined users as, “Sharers, knowledge seekers, and inside experts,” according to the research company Gartner. They included personas with attributes like content creation, organizational knowledge, technology adoption and mobile use, consumption and sharing. You can gauge organizational value by tracking technology consumption for each persona and delivering tools that match persona goals.

Employee experience

Providing great customer service is an end goal of a digital workplace, but you give yourself the best chance by bolstering employee satisfaction first. Happy employees create happy customers. Design smart workspaces that promote collaborative work while still allowing for individual focus. Monitor employee engagement through an online portal where managers incorporate employee contributions and success into a shared IT/HR metric.

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According to Gartner analyst Carol Rozwell, “Employees will be more willing to collaborate, take on challenging roles and provide coaching if they are excited by their work and see the opportunity for growth in the changes being requested of them.”

Processes

Mapping the customer journey from beginning to end can lend insight to employee processes and shape the value of data collection and analysis. A clear map with supporting data can help you understand how employees currently work and where they invest the bulk of their efforts.

Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence or “the internet of things” can be an essential aid to this. AI can often handle repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing employees to shift time toward more heavy thinking and deep-work endeavors.

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Conclusion

Ideas are valuable, but successful execution is priceless when it comes to building a digital workplace.

Commitment requires patience. The digital workplace strategy is a long-term investment, and the impact of your tools will ultimately be realized over time. Even so, an innovative digital workplace strategy should begin to boost your chances of business success right away, from ROI to talent pool expansion.

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