modern office

Four steps on the journey to a digital workplace


Four steps to guide you in creating a digital workplace to boost employee productivity and create an exceptional customer experience.

Read time: 6 minutes

We’ve gotten accustomed to the push-button convenience they’ve brought to our lives. In fact, with personal assistants like Siri, Alexa and others, we’ve gone beyond push-button to voice engagement. Working this way in our personal life, we want the same type of functionality and convenience in our digital workplace and with the companies we do business with.

This presents challenges for traditional workplace models that include:

  • Customer frustration and potential loss of business when information is difficult to access and deliver.

  • Sharing inaccurate information that results from data redundancies due to fragmented information spread across multiple departments.

  • Unnecessary travel expenses for executives and sales reps when collaborative solutions that mimic live meeting rooms could easily replace travel and face-to-face meetings.

These represent just a handful of the many challenges we’ve seen. The following are four steps that you can use to overcome them:

1. Establish a new mental model

Most of us use smart devices every day. They make communication easy. We use them to organize our schedules and to manage our daily tasks. 

The challenge for many companies isn’t understanding the benefits of this new technology, since everyone’s already using it in the personal lives. Rather, there can be an attitude toward the technology in place of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

While perfectly understandable, this mentality can inhibit process improvements and workflow efficiencies possible with new digital technologies. 

To break free from this limiting mentality, start with a simple question:

What is a workplace to you?

At first, you might think paper, PCs, file cabinets, desks in an office, vending machines and meeting rooms. 

What about remote workers in a home office, den, or coffee shop? Adding this to your thinking about the workplace may change how you imagine it. Remote and mobile employees inspire ideas about cloud computing, digital file cabinets and advanced end user communications with new ways of handling IT management

Today, we need to accept that traditional ways of working don’t take advantage of our modern, digital technologies. 

To start seeing how to create a digital workplace, start by asking yourself or your employees these questions:

  • What processes are paper-driven?

  • Where are the bottlenecks in [insert business process]?

Answering these questions will give you direction toward the right digital technologies to help your business. And today, you can also take advantage of expertise by finding a partner who specializes in the area of your need.

It might seem like a bit of work, but with the right partner, it can be simpler than you may first think. And when you adopt the mindset of the digital workplace, you’ll transform your business into one that syncs with what your employees and customers know and want.

The result? Better customer service, loyal customers and more profit.

To be successful, a digital workplace can't be built in a vacuum. It must be part of a wider business strategy that seeks to boost employee agility and engagement by developing a more consumerized work environment.

2. Adopt a digital workplace strategy

Engaged employees put more effort into building customer relationships that give you a competitive edge. Optimizing connections between business, people and technology improves productivity and efficiency, creating a better workplace for employees.

After all, getting more done means you accumulate small successes faster, building a sense of achievement. The more employees achieve, the more invested they become in their work.

Automated, digital workflows empower these successes. Here are a few questions to guide you in defining a digital workplace strategy that makes sense for your business:

  • Where do business, people and technology meet in your current workplace?

  • Is it possible to make these connections more fluid and easier to access?

  • How can you work with these connections to prepare your company for the future?

Answer these questions and you start to gather the data you need to get buy-in from departmental and executive stakeholders. Along the way, you might experience a little resistance. That’s normal. If, however, you answer these questions and explore the answers with questions like “Why?”, you’ll gain the insight needed to overcome anyone’s natural resistance to change. 

To further support the desired change, you must adopt a defined change management process to help overcome any hurdles you might face. Also, you’ll want to focus the conversation on business needs and benefits, rather than technology features. The business case for any change relies on well-defined and measurable outcomes.

3. Assess your company with a digital maturity model

Once everyone’s onboard (or mostly onboard) to implement a digital strategy, it’s time to assess the company’s overall current digital maturity. This process will determine which technologies will produce the best and fastest results as you identify gaps and needs in your current technology infrastructure.

Analyze how your company leverages technology today. For example:

  • Have you started digitizing paper documents?

  • Have any business operations embraced digital technologies to drive process improvements? 

  • What tools do you use to empower your people?

  • Does your company currently view technology as a strategic asset, as a way to cut costs, or both?

  • How effectively does your company use customer and business data to measure success and impact business strategy?

  • What is the current level of user adoption throughout your organization when it comes to emerging technologies?

  • Is your company aligned to support digital strategy, governance and execution?

4. Keep your focus on the employee and customer experience

A digital workplace strategy must be driven with by a focus on two critical groups: your employees and your customers. 

By focusing on them, you’re going to create a wide-ranging, positive impact on people, processes and technology. 

For example, if employees need to meet with customers regularly, you’ll likely benefit from including collaboration technologies into your digital workplace strategy. You’ll reduce time and travel costs for everyone and empower your team to improve customer relationships by sharing ideas more easily and effectively.

Ultimately, to design a digital workplace that fits your organization's unique business needs, you must consider how your digital transformation will affect your employees and your customers. Here are some actions you can take to help you make the process easier for everyone:

  • Develop a common organizational language that will help facilitate, protect and encourage collaboration and information sharing.

  • Set your company up to adjust to, adapt to and overcome the process of change — allowing your organization to grow and evolve as the business dictates.

  • Empower your employees to work anywhere, anytime, on any device — giving them the ability to act and make decisions with speed and precision.

  • Shift the way employees think about technology — helping them move from reactive to proactive approaches when problem solving.

  • Leverage information and technology in ways that help free your IT department to focus on strategic business initiatives and innovations.

New technologies can always improve efficiency. It’s important to remember as you look at and investigate new possibilities for your business to remain focused on your customers and employees too. Technology should serve them. When it does, it serves the interests of your business, a result you’ll see expressed in revenue and profit.

View Related Content

Recommended for you

3 easy ways businesses can reduce costs
3 easy ways businesses can reduce costs

3 easy ways businesses can reduce costs

To reduce business costs, you can reduce paper with digitization, take advantage of IT outsourcing services and use cloud services.

Keep your digital transformation on the right track
Keep your digital transformation on the right track

Keep your digital transformation on the right track

Learn how to change the way you see print to get a better understanding of how you can improve business processes and increase productivity.

Digital Workplace: Definition & Complete Guide

Digital Workplace: Definition & Complete Guide

Implement a digital workplace that gives your business the scalability and flexibility you need to stay competitive. Learn from the experts at Ricoh.