How has the Modern Digital Workplace evolved in 2021?

3 August 2021 | Faye Waghorn

Over the last few years, and the last 18 months in particular, there has been much hype about providing a Digital Workplace (DW) for your employees.

Claims abound that software is the answer and can often provide the ‘complete Digital Workplace’. But can it really? Since COVID brought about an overnight remote working scenario, the direction of travel (and its speed) has changed, and now businesses and employees alike have reassessed their requirements of a DW and remote working. Let’s explore what a modern digital workplace in 2021 looks like.

What is a Digital Workplace?

There are many definitions as to what a DW is, but at its core a digital workplace is the collection of tools and apps that enable businesses and employees to collaborate, communicate and share information; from anywhere, at any time and on any device.

From humble beginnings in the 1990s, when personal computers were pretty much part of the furniture in most businesses, alongside the gathering momentum of the Internet, the DW is now (30 years later) a modern cloud-based experience, which only continues to evolve.

And since the thunderbolt that was overnight remote working in 2020, the focus has started to shift from simply being about the tech, more towards productivity, employee experience and empowerment, as well as valid concerns around security, accessibility and continuity.

Whilst, at its heart DW is about enabling productivity wherever you happen to be working from, these shifts in focus and the pandemic have certainly swayed the scope of what that workplace looks like.

No longer are we tied to a bricks and mortar locale, Monday to Friday; our workplaces have become fluid locations, which must be supported 24/7/365.  Data has become the primary business asset in the modern digital workplace, and the expectation that it should be ever-available and simply accessible, is a non-negotiable.

And it’s not just about the tech for remote working, it’s also about creating an online environment that makes staff feel as if they are talking at the coffee machine: this social element of the modern digital workplace is a significant step forward for employee experience.

Don’t we all work in a Digital Workplace already?

Yes we do. If you use a computer or laptop, access/save your files in a file sharing platform, use email or an Intranet, send instant messages or have video calls, use browser-based or SaaS applications or anything else along those lines – your workplace is digital.

The difference between that type of digital workplace and a truly modern (2021-style) digital workplace is the focus on the creation of a more integrated working and social experience, and the tools and approaches that help to deliver that experience.

Sam Marshall of Clearbox Consulting sums it up perfectly:

“… a common theme in the most successful digital workplaces I’ve experienced is that there is a direct focus on the quality of the employee experience …

“The best companies are making improvements not to cut costs or boost productivity but because they want to be an attractive employer and a good place to work. This is what they measure over and above ROI (and in fact, savings and productivity often happen as a result of this anyhow).”

So yes, we all work in a Digital Workplace in some form or another, but there are Digital Workshops and there are Digital Workshops. Get the drift?

The Good Digital Workplace

The fundamentals have to be in play. You need the IT infrastructure, the apps, and the tech to create a digital workplace.

Then you need the understanding, the desire and the ability. Simply deploying Microsoft Teams, Viva or SharePoint alone across your organization is not creating a DW.  

In 2021, a DW (just like Digital Transformation) is a concept; an approach to how you work not just what you use to work. Fundamentally, at the heart of a true digital workplace, are people.

A good DW provides the tools needed and loved by your employees not just a new set of toys!

Being able to segment content and personalise experience based on employee AD data is important. It provides focus and control on how information is consumed within a successful and busy place for employees to visit. For example, controlling access to relevant tools like HubSpot or Salesforce for sales or marketing, or Ciphr and Workday for HR.

A good digital workplace should bring it all together;

  • Supporting strategies for internal communications and HR
  • Delivery of business change and user adoption programs
  • Streamline business operations with workflow
  • Provide insight and access to business apps
  • Help employees make connections and be engaged
  • Utilise software that is already being used

Do it all in the correct flow work, wherever and whenever it is happening.

The Digital Workplace Framework – Source: Deloitte: The digital workplace: Think, share, do

According the Digital Workplace report by Deloitte, embracing a true DW , with people at its heart, makes a compelling business case.

  • 64% of employees would opt for a lower paying job if they could work away from the office.
  • Organisations with strong online social networks are 7% more productive than those without.
  • Organisations that installed social media tools internally found a median 20% increase in employee satisfaction.
  • When employee engagement increases, there is a corresponding increase in employee retention by up to 87%.

So, the modern Digital Workshop is a blend of tools and approach, focused on delivering a seamless, accessible, always-on, secure working environment, that leverages the right tech for the right job in the right way, with a focus on how your people are actually going to use that tech and the benefits it will bring to them and your organisation.

Need help?

We’re happy to help with whatever questions you have.

Get in touch