The Definition of the Digital Workplace in 2020

The “Digital Workplace” is an evolving concept. Organizations need to build a clear understanding of the term to ensure they implement a successful digital transformation.

In today’s modern work environment, the internet plays a significant role in handling many business functions. Internal and external communications and workflows can all benefit from bringing the internet into the workplace.

Companies that keep up with the changes in technology affecting both the customer and the employee experience in the coming decade are the ones that will succeed. Change is underway, and more companies understand the importance of the digital workplace.

By implementing technological solutions, companies can increase employee engagement and productivity, leading to a dramatic increase in revenues.

Digital Workplace is Sweeping the Globe

It seems that companies and consultancy services around the world are all jumping on the digital workplace train. Leading organizations like Forrester, Deloitte, PwC, Accenture, and McKinsey are all engaging with the business community around the topic.

Take a look at media, and you’ll find it’s a regular topic of discussion, with plenty of small consultancies catering to specialized niches in assisting companies with digital transformations. The digital workplace is another aspect of a company’s digital transformation that’s gaining traction recently.

However, we need to ensure that the industry understands the concept and how it affects both the employee and customer experience. Many organizations focus on how digitizing the workplace can increase sales and make the customer happy.

However, it’s equally as important to focus on how technological solutions can improve the employee experience as well.

Organizational Technology Systems

Digital workplace strategists suggest that the definition of the digital workplace is a collection of digital tools provided by a company that empowers employees in their jobs. This definition has a functional quality to it and a specific value.

This definition of the digital workplace creates a clear boundary by stating that the company provides the digital tools to empower employees. Therefore, it makes the core of the concept measurable and manageable.

The definitions also mention that the introduction of technology to the workplace should empower employees to do their job. Therefore, the tech should increase productivity and efficiencies in the workplace in a measurable and manageable way, as well.

Organizations can base a digital workplace maturity benchmark on this definition. However, without a clear and concise definition of the digital workplace, there is no way for organizations to measure their impact on performance.

However, the above-mentioned definition provides companies with a good starting point for HR, and IT teams to start implementing the digital workplace at larger organizations.

The digital workplace needs to encompass every technology employees, and customers use in the employee and customer experience. Digital technologies in the workplace must empower employees to get work done faster and efficiently while improving engagement between teams and across departments.

Today’s digital workplace tools stretch far beyond email and messaging services. Today, companies utilize a range of digital tools to enhance workflows, improve employee access to data, and enhance communications across all departments. As a result, the organization works with each other instead of against each other.

What is the Employee’s Idea of the Digital Workplace?

The employee’s definition of the digital workplace might be very different from their employers. The employee’s definition will shift the focus from the organizational level of the company to the individual level.

At this level, the company has to realize that each individual in the organization has a unique digital workplace. Whether it’s accessing these digital tools through a desktop or mobile application, every employee identifies with a digital workplace solution that’s both simple and effective.

Employees are demanding more from their company’s when it comes to the digital workplace. Employees are consumers too, and they spend plenty of time utilizing consumer-facing apps for hailing rides or ordering food.

Your employees demand the same seamless and user-friendly experience they get with consumer-grade apps, in their digital workplace tools. Companies that avoid cluttering their platforms with unnecessary functionality, and instead focus on simplicity, functionality, and user-friendly operation, will win the battle in the coming digital workplace experience.

Companies that operate with a digital workplace that brings value to their employees show top levels of employee engagement. When employees feel engaged in their job, they are more willing to go out of their way to help the company.

Organizations that focus on creating a positive employee experience in the digital workplace benefit from higher levels of employee retention, keeping their top talent at the company.

Where Do the Organization, Technology, and People Meet?

You can find the digital workplace at the intersection of organizations, people, and tools. This straightforward and simple definition of the digital workplace has an underlying challenge of understanding the complexity of managing it.

Using this definition, we can see that the core values it embraces are organizational development is a vital concept, with tech only being part of the puzzle. Management brings the rest of the value to the experience.

This definition might be an overly conceptual way of looking at the digital workplace, and its simplicity masks the complexity involved with managing the transformation.

Reinventing the Employee’s Digital Work Experience

Digital managers need to take another approach to define the digital workplace. Managers need to capture the idea of digital workplace technologies and move beyond them to highlight the value in the human experience for employees.

The digital workplace provides employees with connected workplace experiences through the use of technological solutions. This definition shifts the focus onto tech in the workplace, and how it adds value to the employee experience.

In recent years, departments like customer support, sales, and marketing, experienced a rebranding into strategies like “customer experience management.”

By taking the approach of experiencing the technology, managers and companies can measure the impact and meaning created in the workforce through the technology initiative. As a result, companies can create more meaningful work experiences for employees while improving efficiencies and productivity in the workplace.

This definition of the digital workplace broadens the scope to include its relationship with other departments in the company, such as HR, finance, marketing, and support. IT is not the only department involved with implementing the digital workplace – it’s a company initiative that requires input from all levels and departments.

This definition also continues to broaden the idea to encompass topics like knowledge management and employee engagement, as well as tasks like employee onboarding and designing organizational culture.

The definition is very similar to other strategies in recent years, where offices strengthen and augment employee engagement through positive organizational culture and collaboration, giving the digital workplace a strategic impact on all employees.

This definition also has the potential to offer transformational benefits to physical workplaces, on scales never thought possible.

However, the most exciting part of this definition of the digital workplace is that it encourages user-focused approaches to thinking, as well as the continual practice of user-focused design and execution.

By placing employees at the center of the digital workplace experience, teams can create strategies by making use of filling the user’s real challenges and needs. When companies design and build digital workplaces around their employees, it results in faster adoption of the technology, and user-friendly workplace experiences that keep employees engaged and happy with their work.

By finding easy tech solutions for everyday employee tasks, HR and IT can help to improve communications across all departments — innovation in workflows results in higher levels of productivity, and fewer employee mistakes. As a result, companies benefit from increases to bottom-line revenues.

A user-centered approach to the digital workplace also leads to a holistic change in the management perspective, involving stakeholders while linking the digital workplace to the company’s business strategy.

There Are Many Definitions of the Digital Workplace

As you can see from the information in this article, there are plenty of ways to define the digital workplace. Every definition offers HR, IT, and organizational managers the opportunity to improve the workplace experience for employees and customers.

More vendors are starting to refer to the “digital workplace” as a means to tap into rising trends in the industry. However, these companies fail to implement their digital workplace strategy because they fail to take an employee perspective on the transformation process.

Organizations take a customer-centered approach with their strategy due to the misunderstanding in the definition of the digital workplace. Instead, companies need an employee-centered approach with their digital transformation.

It’s not challenging for any company to create complex charts and diagrams outlining the need for a digital workplace, or plans on how to implement it across company departments.

However, the real challenge involves creating a digital workplace that adds value to your employees, allowing them to change the very nature of how they do work.

By focusing on the definition of the digital workplace, and how it affects the organization, companies can customize a digital solution that empowers their employees in the workplace.

What definition of the digital workplace makes sense to your company? That’s a tough question to answer. Companies should take input from all departments, as well as employees and management when considering implementing a digital workplace solution that works.