Office 365 and the digital workplace

12 February 2018 | Chris Marshall

We will be running a series of blogs highlighting the digital workplace tools that Microsoft have to offer in 2018. As Office 365 continues to change and offer new features, we will look at what organisations need to complete to ensure successful end-user adoption.

Part 1 Breaking it down, the components of a digital workplace.

Introduction

The term digital workplace is something of an enigmatic term which it’s vague, broad definitions are actually very useful in describing its objectives which can be similarly vague and broad! There are some good definitions out there:

The digital workplace encompasses all the technologies people use to get work done in today’s workplace… It ranges from your HR applications and core business applications to e-mail, instant messaging and enterprise social media tools and virtual meeting tools.” (The Digital Workplace, Deloitte)

“The digital workplace is an individual person’s personalized, customized collection of computerized devices, commonly used software and connectivity solutions.” (Digital Workplace Group, Chris Tubb)

“The digital workplace lives at the intersection of people, organisation and tools.” (Digital Workplace Framework, Jane Mconnell)

The idea of the ‘digital workplace’ is still emerging, and will continue to do so for many years. You, there is no one universal definition, this article looks at the different elements that contribute to a digital workplace in 2018 to help organisations better articulate and advance their workplace goals and strategies.

The quadrants

In broad functional terms, digital workplace encompasses the following quadrants.

The optimal end-user experience should not require the end-user to be aware that what technology/technologies they are using exists in a single quadrant or spans multiple quadrants but it is presented to them in a way that makes sense. A way that adds value to their day and adapts to their working environment.

Whilst the diagram provides a broad governance allowing separation of ownership and clear attributes that the containing solutions must adhere to, the primary reason for the separation relates to end-user adoption.  The time taken and process required to achieve an adoption target. For example, it’s unlikely that you’ll give employees a choice in which email service to use and while you may prefer employees all used OneDrive rather than their desktop this is likely to involve a level of personal choice and therefore education, support and reinforcement required to make a change.

End-user adoption is a top of the mind for many organisations when implementing modern technologies. Microsoft research showed ‘87% of IT Pros said that driving Office 365 end-user adoption was a priority initiative in the next two years’ (Microsoft Community Manager, Anna Chu). But ‘adoption’ refers to a wide range of actions- some of which occur before you even deploy a new product.

Publishing

The window to many other elements of the digital workplace.  For anyone that has been around in IT since before the cloud existed, an intranet is a good way of considering this quadrant.

The content and functionality here is created top-down to create and distribute applications, content, and information about the business, employees, initiatives and other central functions that most people in the organisation need to be a functioning employee.  More on this later.

It’s expected that all employees should be able to access this bit though individual sections may have restricted permissions and content generally targeted to allow ease of use.

Collaboration

The area where business operations is happening.  Projects, teams, bids, contracts, personal storage and plenty of other types of collaboration activity is happening in this quadrant.

Day to day work objects like documents, plans, images, and other files are stored, secured and shared in these areas.

Each type of collaboration may exist somewhere along a complexity scale. E.g. departments sharing work in progress information with each other may only require a simple site whereas collaboration sites business operations activities may require meta-data, structure, workflow, auditing etc to be attached to each instance.

Each collaboration site is likely to have specific permissions.

Enterprise Social

This shares attributes with both publishing and collaboration and can be quite challenging for business to consider and deploy. Typically, informal content is utilised in these locations – that is not to say it isn’t valuable, more that it tends to be conversational rather than sticking to a consistent format.  For example, engineers on different project sharing thoughts or progress on common practices.

Attributes tend to be more flexible in social tools with practices generally driven bottom-up.  These tools have emerged from the consumer world of Facebook, Twitter therefore the conversational element between peers is the driving force rather than corporate controlled, governed content.

Communications

Undoubtedly email is still the most popular form of direct communications for many organisations.  The shifts in patterns and practices of employees are well documented with alternative communication models being adopted, particularly by millennials. Email, instant messaging, video conferencing are all still valid models of communications and as we’ll see in later sections the lines are becoming blurred.

Summary

Whilst the description provided here is not exhaustive and there are some obvious omissions – such as line of business applications that don’t fit neatly into any of these categories – the working model provides a good basis for a digital workplace model. Existing tools and systems can be mapped into the quadrants and broad rules and attributes applied to each system.[vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=”How to Deliver Effective Communications in your Organisation” style=”3d”]The challenge for businesses in the modern age is keeping a consistent tempo to work; a reliability to workplace environments; leadership in operations and universal touchpoints that reach across the entire organisation. This whitepaper takes a closer look at the importance of internal communications in a changing business landscape and the role a company’s intranet plays in improving business fluidity and function.

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