Concept of groups of employees sitting in different areas connecting digitally

How to create a successful digital workplace

A successful digital workplace delivers at least as many benefits as a physical workplace – often more.

Creating a digital workplace, however, involves more than laptops and a video-conferencing application. It also comes with the challenges of connectivity and increased risks of data and information security.

To help you succeed, we offer some suggestions below based on how we have helped our customers ‘go digital.’

The digital workplace defined

The digital workplace allows employees to work from anywhere as advanced communication tools allow them to communicate and engage in real time.

A successful digital workplace needs integrated tools, defined policy, and a means to support employees wherever they are working. These include:

  • Cloud applications

  • Secured communications

  • A multi-layered security framework

Characteristics of a successful digital workplace

1. Strategy

Having a strategy and roadmap are essential for a smooth and successful transition to a digital workplace. The goal of the strategy should be to create a streamlined system that enables employees to work efficiently, communicate as needed, keep business data secured, and still make work fun.

Today, digital workplace best practices focus on centralized strategy with decentralized (or democratized) applications and systems.

2. Communication

Communication plays a vital role in two ways.

First, your employees need to be able to communicate in real-time with each other regardless of where they are working. You need to find the right combination of tools and applications to ensure the secured sharing of ideas, data, and documents.

Secondly, you want to ensure employees know who they can talk to for support, when they have problems, and that they are encouraged to "speak up" and share both ideas and challenges with management.

3. Advanced security

Cyberattacks are on the rise.

And this is no mere statistical blip. The U.S. government-backed Institute of Standards and Technology has decreed that cyberattacks are a major threat to business and personal security.

As you work to streamline your digital workplace, you’ll need to implement a cybersecurity framework and observe cybersecurity best practices.

4. Answer the question, ‘Is This Useful? '

Anything that isn’t directly useful to your company is a revenue anchor that needs to be cut. 

Disconnected systems and inefficient workflows negatively affect both productivity and morale. The challenge is that it can be easy to acquire tools that overcomplicate communication and workflows.

Ideally, you want to keep things as close to intuitive and integrated as possible.

5. Support your employee base

Employees are the heart and soul of your company. Ensuring they are supported is key to a successful digital workplace.

And employees often find they are happier and more productive with a digital workplace lifestyle. That’s due to a few factors:

  • The inherent benefits of a less restrictive schedule, i.e., spending more time with family, exercising, eating healthier, and so on.

  • Greater automation of processes, meaning less repetitive tasks.

  • Employers meeting, even anticipating, employee needs.

The first point takes care of itself. The others need to be nurtured. Digital dexterity eases that. An employee-focused method of designing a digital workplace may be the only way to make such a transition successfully.

No matter how employee-centered a digital workplace design is, it’s a good idea to train employees in the following:

  • IT security basics

  • Application use

  • Hybrid work protocols

Some contingencies, such as supply chain issues and shifting customer preferences, can’t necessarily be predicted, or affected by an individual company’s effort. But employee well-being can be.

Building a community in a virtual workplace isn’t difficult with the right tools, but initial energy needs to be put into constructing it.

Explore more: practical insights and see top solutions for the digital workplace

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Important considerations when planning a digital workplace

Build your list of tools

Once you’ve got direction, you’ll need the necessary tools to keep your employees productive, data secured, and business moving.

Digital workplace components are important, especially as a digital workforce relies on cloud technology.

Cloud applications benefit a digital workspace by improving:

  • Speed

  • Accessibility

  • Business continuity

And cloud technology enables highly-reliable, real-time communication and collaboration. Video conferencing technology, messaging software, and communication tools like Microsoft® Teams™ are popular ways to do this.

Collaboration is much harder for a digital workforce without such tools, but with them, it’s as easy as it ever was with everyone in an office.

Create appropriate governance

There’s not necessarily any reason to restructure your company’s hierarchy just because you’re shifting to a more streamlined digital workplace. However, before diving into creating a digital workplace, determine who is going to have access to, and control of, what — in order to ensure proper information access and workflows.

Allow stakeholder input to guide the digital workplace

Business needs must drive the digital workplace. This starts with alignment to the direction of your organization and company culture.

By implementing change management best practices, you can align the human and technological aspirations of the digital workplace with a company’s overall business plan. Change, which is inevitable, can also be desirable. Improved agility, productivity, and market competitiveness are the results of well-planned, carefully-integrated change.

Create a detailed project pitch and present it to stakeholders. Concerns — even resistance — are to be expected. You may encounter outright resistance from multiple angles:

  • You may have trouble convincing management that the status quo ought to be shifted. They fear profit decline and all that comes with it.

  • Employees may find new protocols and applications excessively difficult and may worry about their job security should they be unable to adjust to new technology.

And be sure to guarantee training for everyone. Offer multiple training sessions, not just a single one-off seminar.

Creating the digital workplace

Creating the digital workplace is not hard, but it does come with challenges. You’ll want to remain strategic, communicative, and flexible. Cut waste, support your employees, and make sure you have access to the right communication and security tools.

Your digital workplace is everywhere, but you’re all going down the same path.

Have questions about your digital workplace strategy? Our workplace professionals can help.

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