How and where we work are changing forever. Welcome to the digital workplace.
After some false starts and a few years of promises, we finally live in an always-connected world where broadband, 4G and Cloud access means we can pretty much work wherever, whenever and however we want. We call this space ‘the digital workplace’. It holds amazing potential for collaboration, innovation, engagement and flexibility, but it also heralds a substantial change in working culture, one that both organisations and employees will need to embrace to get the most from these fresh horizons.
Three tipping points in competence, culture and attitude have aligned to make this the year for the digital workplace. The technology is finally good enough to fully integrate every element it needs in order to be successful, organisations have shifted from seeing it as purely a cost saving exercise to an asset that will drive their business forwards, and employees comfortable with social media are now asking for similar technologies in the office (technologies which just a few years ago they might have dismissed as a top-down impositions).
What are the benefits?
Better productivity - with less time wasted on sluggish processes that can’t keep up with the speed of your business thinking.
Reduced costs - from needing less hardware or office space as ‘super mobility’ makes it easy to work on the road and where employees need to be.
Improved decision making - as the right information and insight is always on hand for whoever needs it.
Stronger employee engagement - as routine, repetitive work is replaced with more inspiring, ideas-driven opportunities.
Increased customer satisfaction - achieved by a more engaged, expert and faster responding workforce
Attraction and retention of talent - made easier by a better work/life balance, a social working style that appeals to a young workforce, and modern, innovative, and frankly cooler company culture.
The Boston Consulting Group figures that, on average, 60% of all corporate real estate sits unemployed at any one time.
Today, in the UK, more than 4 million people work from home
“When it’s done properly the digital workplace can launch enterprises into the 21st century with greater productivity, collaboration and innovation and a workforce that feels more creative and satisfied."
The consumerisation of office technology
What we have on our phones we now expect on our desks. When office software cannot trade ideas or link people as swiftly and easily as the apps we use in our personal lives, then progress will stutter and employees become disenchanted.
And no section of the workforce expects it more than Millennials, the 20-30 year olds who are the first digitally native generation, and who, within a few years, will also be the largest chunk of the global labour force. Work culture and associated technology hold more sway with this generation than any before it. Dated tech can be a deal breaker. Hierarchical structures are alien to them, and without intuitive ways to share ideas and collaborate, they struggle to see what they can offer any business. And perhaps more importantly, what it can offer them. The enabling, level playing field of the digital workplace is their arena.
But to work for everyone, this consumerised ‘norm’ must also come with levels of security and flexibility that enable enterprise to feel safe and confident. The final piece in the digital workplace jigsaw is rigorous security and data protection that means when an end user eventually leaves that ‘super mobile’ device on a train, all is not lost. In fact, nothing is lost.
When it’s done properly, when the digital workplace is viewed not just as a technology project but as part of true cultural change, it can launch enterprises into the 21st century with greater productivity, collaboration and innovation and a workforce that feels more creative and satisfied.