The Complete Guide to Digital Workplace Implementation


"Being a customer is a pleasure, being an employee is a fight!"

The above quote is a simple and complete description of what I hear from employees across organisations, countries and continents I have visited, and of course I personally experience this dichotomy, as a customer and as an employee. 

As I believe that a Digital Consumer can be both an employee and a customer equally (check my blog for the definition of Digital Consumer), I strongly believe that any organisation can create an environment that facilitates innovative and flexible working practices with all what a consumer expects in the external market as a "customer" - This is what I call "The Digital Workplace". 

As mentioned in my previous blog, 4 Characteristics for Talent in the Digital World, the Digital consumer expects a personalised, always-on and omni-channel experience and the Digital workplace is a key aspect for attracting and flourishing the required talents as well. 

So what are the components of such a digital workplace and how to implement it? 

  1. Culture & Environment: the role of the digital workplace is to offer an environment that allow employees to do their work, removing any operational or physical frustrations to foster a strong sense of culture and community. To capture this, an organisation has to implement:

  • A top-down management buy-in of full freedom and flexibility of the workplace, which can be an office, at home, in public places or at customer sites. The decision should be task-based and on a team level on the preferred premises (virtual/physical).

  • For office environment (a premises that will always exist but changed dramatically with digital workplace), a welcoming and personalised physical office space that offers flexibility of location (hot desking), flexibility of work (break out areas for switch off or relaxation) and trigger innovation. 

  • A set of virtual reality technologies to create the illusion of employees from multiple locations being in the same room bringing them closer as a team and community.

  1. Community & Collaboration: The role of the digital workplace is to offer the employees a way to connect across the organisation, collaborate within and outside the organisation walls (i.e. With 3rd party suppliers or customers), leverage intellectual property and knowledge, and gain insight from one another. To achieve that, the organisation has to implement:

  • Online and intuitive collaboration tools that offer employees integrated and seamless place to perform peer-to-peer working, social connectivity with each other and capability to access, share and collaborate securely on documents within the organisation and with customers and suppliers that are outside the organisation's firewall. 

  • Online communication channels that allow majority of employees to be both publishers and consumers with all employee-generated content covering all media types (e.g video, audio). To ensure the right information reaches the right audience, the communication channels need to support personalisation of content.

  1. Learning & Training: The role of the digital workplace is to offer the employees simple, easy to use tools and trustful and supportive environment for their continuous learning and development. Such environment requires the organisation to implement:

  • Self-service Personalised portal where employees can continuously see latest available training and learning modules that they can take part in and adds to their professional portfolio as their internal skills & knowledge resume.

  • Multi-media delivery of learning and training capabilities (e.g. Audio, video, classroom, virtual rooms) and let the employee choose their best medium that they can engage with and consume the learnings.

  • Gamification techniques (more on gamification in a future blog) that not only pushes learning and information to the employees but encourages the employees to pull information themselves.  

  1. Engagement & Support: The role of the digital workplace is to offer an ecosystem that allow the employees take ownership of their workplace and outputs and offer them the tools and resources for them to engage and feel fully supported. Organisations for such an ecosystem, requires to implement:

  • Support ecosystem available on multiple channels that offers self-support, peer-to-peer support and of course expert oriented support across various channels (chat, phone or face-to-face). For more details, please check my blog on the ultimate digital consumer support ecosystem.

  • Leverage the employees' knowledge and engagement by making them an extension to your ecosystem by supporting each others, creating content and even share it across your organisation. This is specially important for Non-PC and employee owned devices where the change & landscape is much faster and more varied than you can purely assign to your IT department. 

For the next 100 days, to transform your employees' working experience and achieve your "digital workplace", take the following steps:

  1. Asses your current state by understanding where your organisation is at and how your employees work including the appropriate tools you either have or miss.

  2. Identify, based on business priorities and capabilities, your overall digital workplace strategy as well as define quick wins to pilot as your initial digital workplace activity to accomplish the highest business value. 

  3. Execute proper change management, including necessary training and communication to your employees and measure metrics to help you measure impact and improvement opportunities.

  4. After first pilot and lesson's learned, move to your next priority.

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