The Digital Workplace: Definition, benefits and solutions
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10 mins read
Thu, Feb 24, '22
A digital workplace consists of all of the technologies teams use every day — for example, Zoom, Slack, and project management software.
Digital workplaces also need some method of connecting these resources so that everyone has access to information from wherever they may be. However, companies sometimes struggle to take control of the digital workplace, which may leave employees feeling confused and disconnected.
In this post, we’ll look at what a digital workplace should be and how companies can provide a better digital workplace experience for their employees. Let’s get started!
What is a digital workplace?
A digital workplace serves as a virtual office and incorporates the applications and systems companies use for their work. These cloud-based platforms act as a virtual replacement for the physical office, and typically include features for Internal Communication, file storage, and content management.
While a digital workplace is similar to an intranet system, it’s a bit more sophisticated in that it usually includes the ability to customize pages, define user groups, and interact with others (for example, liking and sharing posts).
Source: Where does the intranet fit into the modern digital workplace?
With a digital workplace, team members can automate administrative tasks, generate data-rich reports about user engagement, and manage projects more efficiently. By far, the greatest advantage of a digital workplace platform is that it dramatically improves communication — from top-down directives to everyday exchanges between employees who are collaborating on a project.
A digital workplace will centralize the technologies and tools that employees need to perform their job effectively, including:
- Communication and messaging apps
- Content management systems
- Knowledge management systems
- Document storage and sharing
- Intranet platforms
- Collaborative toolkits
- Content sharing and collaboration
- And a lot more..
What are the main types of digital communication in business?
Ask someone to define digital communication in a business context, and they might think of messaging apps and email. But business communication is much more than that. These are the various types of communication businesses may employ from day to day:
This type of communication originates with lower-level employees — for example, writers reporting to editors, or administrative assistants reporting to managers. Bottom-up communication might involve a regular cadence, such as daily or weekly check-ins.
Top-down communication comes from company leadership, often in the form of announcements. In traditional settings without a digital workplace, this type of communication does not offer a way for employees to react to company news or ask for more information.
This type of communication occurs between peers, and sometimes across departments, such as discussions between UX designers and the developers who are implementing designs. With large teams, lateral communication can quickly become overwhelming, as multiple conversations may occur in different formats or platforms.
External communication is what occurs between company employees and non-employees such as clients and suppliers. It may include phone calls, emails, in-person meetings, and other formats.
Traits of effective digital communication
Most businesses struggle with some aspect of communication, especially when their communication rarely occurs in-person. But these principles of effective face-to-face communication can be applied to digital interactions:
Listen and ask questions
With virtual communication, “listening” might just mean keeping messages short and to the point. (Think of a lengthy email or voicemail as the virtual equivalent of monopolizing the conversation).
When communicating face-to-face, good listeners will often ask questions that help them understand the context or intent of what someone is saying. This is a healthy habit to develop in the workplace, as not everyone uses the same words to express the same ideas. Asking questions can help eliminate misunderstandings.
Timing is especially important for companies whose external contacts and remote employees are spread across multiple time zones. For example, if you’re looking for client feedback, you probably wouldn’t ask for that at 5 p.m. on a Friday, so think about where someone is located before reaching out.
Think about visuals
During an in-person presentation, presenters use visual tools to help communicate their ideas — pie charts, bullet points, and images, for example. Digital communication benefits from visual aids, too. A company e-newsletter without any images or graphics would likely have low engagement.
Benefits of a digital workplace
So now that we’ve covered types of business communication and tips for communicating more effectively, let’s look at how digital workplace solutions can streamline communication and improve the digital working environment. We’ll also cover some of the other benefits of digital workplace platforms.
Greater employee experience
Remote workers are prone to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Often, those feelings manifest in missed deadlines, declining work quality, and excessive time off requests. A digital workplace can help remote employees feel more engaged and encourage their participation in ongoing discussions.
Employees appreciate transparency. Even when business leaders recognize that fact, they may lack the means to share knowledge in an effective way. Leadership can use a digital workplace platform to share news, express concerns, or just to offer personal anecdotes that make them seem more relatable.
A digital workplace platform also helps employees understand leadership hierarchy, by providing a visual org chart, as well as photos and contact information for all employees.
Image: Happeo’s Employee directory enables you to automatically generate organizational charts that help visualize hierarchy and positions within the company.
Cohesive collaboration and knowledge sharing
Collaboration is an essential part of many business processes, but with multiple “moving parts” — people, platforms, and assets — tasks can become bogged down with back-and-forth communication. Furthermore, employees may waste countless hours searching for files or information they need.
A digital workplace keeps all communication and information in a single platform. That means employees never have to wait for someone else to share a file from their hard drive or provide feedback via email — all of the information they need is accessible at any time.
Greater remote work capacity
Employees are able to access data and business applications from anywhere, at any time, as long as they have an internet connection. This type of access empowers employees to stay productive from any location or time zone. In a recent Gallup State of the Workforce study, 91% of US employees that worked at least some of their hours remotely indicated that they hoped their ability to work remotely persisted after the pandemic.
Companies that adopt a digital workplace and continue to make remote work an option for workers will likely see higher employee satisfaction, and a subsequent reduction in costly turnover.
Automating tasks frees up employees to work on more important objectives. For example, lifecycle management automation ensures that outdated content is automatically archived — no one has to keep an eye on expiration dates or manually archive content.
Image: Happeo’s Lifecycle Management feature automatically archives obsolete content.
Employees may be using several different applications every day, which might mean switching between multiple browser tabs throughout the day. That’s an inefficient way to work. A digital workplace can integrate with those platforms, allowing employees to execute all of their work within one digital workspace. Better yet, you may not need all of those other single-purpose apps, once you have a digital workplace.
Better talent recruitment and retention
A digital workplace provides the flexible work environment that today’s top talent have come to know and expect. This not only helps in the recruitment process, but also helps boost the rate at which companies are able to retain that talent.
In the EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee survey, more than 54% of employees surveyed around the world indicated that they would consider leaving their current job if the company did not offer some form of flexibility in terms of where and when they worked after the pandemic.
Digital workplaces help organizations increase profitability in two main ways:
- A digital workplace can replace multiple applications and subscriptions an organization is needlessly paying for.
- A digital workplace improves knowledge access and sharing, which means employees spend less time searching for information, and more time performing their core responsibilities and driving real value for the organization.
Considerations when choosing a digital workplace
A digital workplace platform can help you create a cohesive and engaging work environment, but you may be looking for those extra features that convince you it’s worth the investment.
Consider the following when shopping for a digital workplace platform:
Some of the earliest intranet software offered only the most basic functionality, with a look and feel that was far from engaging. With the ability to customize the appearance of your digital workplace platform, you’re more likely to find employees are eager to use it.
In addition to high-level customization, you may want a platform that lets users customize their interface.
Image: Happeo Pages provides a drag-and-drop page builder that makes it fast and easy to create custom intranet homepages that are populated with dynamic content for each user, role and function.
Happeo, for example, allows employees to set their own language preferences and configure their own timeline, so they see only the information that’s most relevant for them. That means higher engagement, as well as fewer distractions.
A digital workplace platform can greatly improve the onboarding experience for new employees. Administrators can set up pages that guide new users through policies, processes, key contacts, and other important information.
Your employees may already be surfing social media during the workday — especially remote workers who crave social interaction. A social intranet platform delivers the same type of engagement. Users can like, comment on, and share items, as well as search for and connect with other employees in your organization.
Image: Happeo Channels enable employees to connect with colleagues, collaborate on projects, and provide valuable input.
Companies that employ field sales reps or other workers whose jobs involve travel will appreciate a robust mobile experience. Happeo’s iOS and Android mobile apps allow workers to easily stay connected, see important announcements, and collaborate with peers.
A digital workplace should give you the data you need to measure engagement. With Happeo’s Analytics, you can see which employees are most engaged, which content spurs the most conversations, and who your main social influencers are. With this intelligence, you can continue to refine your strategy for improving the employee experience.
With all of your communication and documents stored in your cloud-based digital workplace, you want some assurance that your platform is protected from unauthorized access. Happeo carries ISO 27001 certification — the gold standard in internet security — and the Happeo team monitors platform security and manages all security upgrades.
What is a modern digital workplace?
A modern digital workplace integrates all the disparate business applications in one place. This makes it easier for employees to collaborate with colleagues and access the information they need without having to click navigate between different apps or platforms.
Why do we need a digital workplace?
Compared to pre-pandemic, the number of US employees working remotely has almost doubled. This trend has given rise to the need for organizations to provide a digital workplace where employees can collaborate and access the tools and knowledge they need to perform their jobs effectively.
What is the different between workplace and workspace?
The digital workplace is here to stay.
By the year 2025, an estimated 36.2 million U.S. employees will be working remotely. That means now is the time for companies to set up the systems that will help those workers succeed in their roles. Happeo’s social digital intranet platform improves productivity, communication, and the employee experience. If you’re ready for a digital workplace transformation, we invite you to try Happeo — sign up for your demo now!