There is no substitute for hard work. But, there are many alternatives in how we work. The new age workforce has a strong preference for flexible and collaborative working. In addition, Millennials and Gen Z cannot imagine their lives without technology. There has been a massive shift from traditional to technology-driven workplaces.
All the credit goes to the wave of ‘digitalization’. The modern workplaces aim to overcome the barriers of time, geography, and communication. It has transformed the way we live and work.
What is a digital workplace?
Digitalization is not a new term for any industry. In essence, a digital workplace follows a flexible and agile approach. It provides a collaborative working environment with digital tools and technology. It breaks the barriers of concrete offices. There is no restriction of ‘fixed hours’ duties. Digitalization means employees focus on ‘doing their work’ instead of only ‘going to their work’. As the business trends move towards instant and convenient services, it has become more than necessary to create digital workplaces.
Businesses are yet to embrace it in a complete manner. On the other side, those who have standard digital workplaces have experienced a better business outcome. According to statistics, cloud computing spending is growing at 4.5 times the rate of IT spending since 2009. It is expected to rise around 6x the rate of IT spending during 2015-2020. This is why the strategists and CIOs around the world are seeking ways to digitalize their work. To meet the changing demands of the market and survive the competition, adaption is key.
What are the main benefits of a digital workplace?
The plethora of benefits include a more connected workforce, increased productivity, reduced carbon footprints, cost savings, higher profits, expedited communication, and gaining a competitive edge. These vast benefits and others are accelerating the acceptance of the digital workplace. One such example of a successful implementation comes from Putnam Investments where their CIO Sumedh Mehta used collaboration tools to streamline coordination and automate their workflows. They were able to achieve stronger engagement and swift communication.
Compared to the rigid, present-day system, the digital workplace offers higher employee engagement. This is because active participation comes from the efforts at all hierarchical levels to realize business goals. In turn, the organization can expect a significant revenue increase and customer satisfaction. But, how will digitalization foster active workforce participation? Here are the five methods driving this engagement:
Digital workplaces work well to balance the personal and professional life. Taking the advantage of accessibility, workers feel empowered to perform their tasks. For instance, we are seeing many professionals choosing to work from home. They can manage things better with a level of freedom. Or, if we look at hiring the best talent beyond boundaries, digitalization allows them to work at their convenience without leaving their families behind and shifting to a new location. Attracting and retaining talent is a more likely reality.
The company must understand the changing needs of its employees. As per the industry processes, a degree of digitalization is necessary. Allowing your workforce to complete tasks in their own way will increase their participation. Digital workplaces allow room to maintain a proper work-life balance. Staff can attend to their personal needs and professional work with efficiency. Thus, the employees will work with full concentration. This will reduce absenteeism and negative attitudes.
Nobody likes to wait. Be it your customers or employees. Today, people want quick access. For example, taking out a mobile phone to order food, book appointments or play games. Similarly, digitalization reduces dependencies to do work. The workforce can use their device at any place to check and do their jobs. They are not bound to their desktops. A digital workplace frees them from the clutches of specific devices located in the office. The work goes on, no matter what!
It supports the culture of mobility. For field service organizations, managing a team of mobile workers is a tedious task. Switching from paper sheets to bespoke mobile apps means they can do their job on-the-go. The workforce need not waste their time in travelling to the office. Digitalization enables real-time monitoring, seamless coordination and instant reporting.
Customer experience is crucial for businesses. Often, companies make the mistake of ignoring the employee experience. This can cause a huge loss to them. The employees will support in creating worthy customer experiences only if they are happy doing their work. Hence, companies should focus on gifting a digital workplace to their employees. The new ways of working will intensify communication and collaboration. The personalized digital environment with specific capabilities will drive more engagement.
Digitalization, in the form of communication tools, enterprise software applications, job management mobile apps, and digital HR, can be a game changer. There is transparency. Employees know exactly what they are supposed to do and how their work is supporting the company to realize the business goals. The outcome is more effective with their deeper involvement.
A business cannot function without data. In fact, it is quite apt to say that data has the power to determine success. For a business to harness their data's value, it should digitalize information capture and sharing. Let your employees make the most of the data. With the help of a cloud-based solution, it is easier to centralize data sharing while maintaining its security and consistency. The employees can create and consume more content. They can pool resources together and make faster and accurate decisions.
Digitalization also addresses the concern of multi-generation workforce. It is necessary to capture and retain the knowledge of an aging workforce who is on the verge of retirement. The use of a digital platform is beneficial to pass on the training and knowledge references. The new hires will find it easier to understand and execute their task. They need not depend, wait or be confused about their work. A digital medium will facilitate quick and operative learning.
Tools and Automation
A digital workplace signifies the influence of automation. It promotes the culture of effortless working. The workforce feels confident in doing their actual job. Digitalization involves automating the monotonous and laborious administrative work. So, the employees need not lose their productive hours. Digital tools play a key role in streamlining daily activities. It motivates the employees to stay focused. They can analyze their performance and strive to achieve excellence.
With smart technology in hand, the employees will be able to do more with less. Automating non-productive tasks will allow the workforce to focus on business-critical tasks. Timely alerts and schedules can instill workers with a sense of responsibility. It will add greater value to their work. HR strategists can also use gamification to encourage a healthy performance-based competition. Thus, the workforce will be more involved.
Reinvent the Workplace!
The ‘Digital Workplace’ is not a goal; it’s a journey of transformation. There are no concrete rules to direct this change. Further, businesses should leave no stone unturned to welcome the advancements like wearable technology, IoT, virtual assistants, and augmented reality. It’s a company’s call to comprehend the needs, govern a strategy and start implementing the tools. Help your employees overcome their work challenges. Make the digital facilities available to them. In doing so, you will ensure your workers are active, engaged and motivated. Reinvent the workplace to connect the departmental dots. Communicate without limitations. Collaborate for betterment. Happy working!
About the Author: Swati Kungwani is the business analyst and content manager for iTouchVision, a UK-based customer service platform. She specializes in customer experience management and driving new customer initiatives. Connect with her on Linkedin. Join iTouchVision’s social network: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin.