Globally, the concept of workplace is being redefined, from a dedicated physical workstation to an infinitely accessible and connected workplace. A company should always provide an employee with a well-functioning and seamless workplace environment which incessantly involves, inspires, and informs, bringing about greater levels of engagement. With a greater number of millennials entering the workforce and with the adoption of newer technologies, this transition is the need of the hour.
Digital Workspace: Think like the employee
In the digital world, the distinction between office-hours and after office-hours has blurred, and employees are connecting and teaming-up in unprecedented ways, as articulated in Economist Prof. Thomas L. Friedman’s book ‘The World is Flat’. In such a world, knowledge-sharing becomes easier and accessible to employees, across geographies and across time zones, enabling them to build prolific business relationships beyond their natural work groups.
In simple terms, the digital workplace is more about accessibility to the already-existing physical workplace, virtually, with the help of any device, anytime, anywhere. The focus is on being connected through the right device/app so that employees are able to access information and data remotely, anytime.
Right from gathering data and sharing information, to predicting future outcomes, the millennials know it all. The digital workplace requires a different gamut of skillsets as the kind of workforce entering the organizations is very different from those who will come five years hence. Millennials today are socially aware and desire to be creative in what they do and also welcome feedback to improve themselves and their productivity at work.
Gartner says digital workplace is “a business strategy for promoting employee effectiveness and engagement through a more consumer-like computing environment.”
With digital workplace, organizations are integrating the latest technologies to break down communication barriers, transform employee experience by fostering efficiency, innovation, and growth. The end result predominantly depicts the digital workspace as evolving and involving than the traditional create-and-push approach.
Approaches in a digital workplace
Decentralization of office space:
Unlike the traditional quiet cubicles, millennials prefer to work in the office lounge or the cafeteria where they can interact with their peers and share valuable insights about their work. The early traditional environment was limited to content and communication as workflow was a top-down approach and more a one-way communication from HR to employees. The new environment helps the tech-savvy employees to use platforms, devices, and information in the most productive way. They make informed choices and surpass the boundaries of location, time-zone or device as one is connected via technology, thereby allowing a person to work in a flexible manner. Even business leaders are always on the front foot trying to be on top while trying to explore new possibilities of workforce engagement and flexibility, or they are in danger of losing their employees.
The traditional method of exchanging emails is being taken over by instant messages, apps and video collaborations. The convergence of media is like steroid shots for workplace productivity. Innovative and digital-friendly employee engagement initiatives are widely accepted and promoted as it is the easiest way to enable employees incomplete tasks, ensure better productivity and keep employees engaged.
Every HR professional needs to understand that implementation of new digital strategies like company chat software, cloud technology etc. create channels for feedback and new ideas, encourage cross-departmental communications and collaborations. They not only help promote a healthy work environment but also enhance internal communications. Transparency is a very important tool that HR relies on to improve internal communications because it promotes trust and accountability, although all information cannot be made available to every person, a certain level of transparency needs to be practiced.
Employee engagement at digital workplace
Employee engagement is usually measured in terms of how involved and committed an employee is towards work and the organization. A well-planned employee engagement is a win-win strategy benefiting both the employees and the organization.
An initial and most crucial step is to place digital collaboration at the very center of workforce engagement strategy with a unified digital platform. Organizations usually make the mistake of launching digital communication plans by just assuming the company’s impact and completely ignoring employee feedback loops and employee constraints, thus leaving them with a solution which would not be as effective as planned. It is always essential to incorporate the employees’ voice into the plan with a deeper understanding of their needs. Lastly, invest in tools and platforms which would ensure that your employees stay engaged, motivated, and productive. Even in a digital workplace, employees remain your company’s greatest asset and foundation for its competitive advantage.
When HR policies are supportive, workplace technology collectively fits in like the pieces of a puzzle, empowering its employees to have a better work-life balance. Unified communications, including instant messaging, allow the new generation workforce to stay connected with its peers. Engagement within the digital workforce becomes easier with continuous communication and helps understand the changing trends.