How the Pandemic Changed Our Perspective on Employee Engagement
Embracing a Digital Workplace Evolution
In the modern, globally-oriented workplace, it’s not unusual for employees to work under the same business umbrella with people from different countries. The abundance of technologies takes collaboration to a whole new level: the level of productive relationships.
As a matter of fact, we are not even talking about the growing tendency towards remote work and the dispersed workforce—well, not anymore. Alex Shootman, CEO of Workfront, believes that this notion will have a different meaning over the coming years. Instead of working remotely, “people will go to work on a dynamic digital platform as a workplace.”
In the future, the question will not be about how to get the work done, managing remote teams. The focus will lie on the desired qualities that presuppose continuous training and reskilling, the ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance, rethinking waterfall careers in favor of talent mobility within a company, and redefining the roles of leadership. The goal will be to create a working environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, creativity, and lifelong development. The digital transformation of the workplace is but one way to reach this goal.
What should you know about the digital workplace?
To have a clear vision of what the digital workplace is and how it can help in reaching the above-mentioned goal, we will address this notion through its main characteristics. Hence, the digital workplace can be described in the following ways.
- It is a natural evolution from a physical workplace to an interconnected one.
Fairly recently, there has been a clear separation between work and personal life. But with mobile devices and social media becoming ubiquitous, this line gets more blurred and interrelated.
The Gallup research states that “employees are pushing employers to forgo traditional structures since new and emerging technologies are transforming the type of work employees perform, as well as where and how work gets done.”
Nowadays, the workplace is far more than a space occupied by an employee during working hours. The workplace is all about the technologies people need to get work done starting from hardware equipment to cloud-based training platforms, HR software, and collaboration tools like Slack and Google Hangouts.
- It is a critical response to globalization, vigorous market competition, and increased customers’ expectations.
The transition to the digital workplace allows businesses to meet rising customers’ needs and operate at a profit in the ever-changing market. Unfortunately, over 60% of executives say they are behind in their digital transformation, placing the future of their companies at risk.
Upon settling the digital workplace, companies will be able to keep all employees connected by providing support and easy access to any kind of tools and information when it’s needed, increasing productivity and cutting costs. The work itself will become more transparent due to data and analytics insights. Moreover, by offering progressive remote working environments, companies will also attract top talent no matter where they’re located. This will help them stand out from the competitors.
- It is based on the 24/7 accessibility mode that encompasses flexibility, connectivity, cohesion, and integration.
Due to the age of 24/7 accessibility, there’s much talk about work-life balance. One attempt to solve this problem was done in France, where they adopted “the right to disconnect”, setting a time period after which employees are not expected to reply to work-related emails and the like.
At the same time, the digital workplace represents a dynamic environment, at the heart of which lies inherent flexibility and mobility. This gives employees control over their work activities and personal life. It doesn’t matter whether people are at home, in the office, on the plane to a business meeting, or elsewhere. They have a say as to when they should work, knowing their most productive hours and tasks they have to do in the time allotted.
What does the digital workplace encompass?
The digital workplace architecture is a combination of creativity, freedom, and technology that includes five distinctive features: digital learning, digital employee experience, communication, digital security, and human-machine symbiosis. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
- Digital learning
Digital learning is not only about learning via mobile devices, but also bringing learning to where employees are and harnessing the digital workplace to their advantage. This includes on-the-go and just-in-time principles that will gain even more traction in the years to come.
In the midst of vague predictions about the impact of AI technologies on the future of work, it’s important to focus on talent mobility. Develop your workers according to their needs and professional goals, keeping in mind how it’d contribute to your company’s business objectives. Train your employees on soft skills, develop their leadership potential, and let them find out more about other job roles within your company since their job responsibilities will become more fluid in the future. Also, psychologically prepare your employees to be in an “always learning” mode if they want to stay pivotal for their organizations.
Digital learning will allow employees to continually upskill and refresh their knowledge, being a central hub for information sharing, team collaboration, continuous feedback loop, and, as a result, more informed decisions.
- Digital employee experience
In general, employee experience defines the overall competitiveness of a company. It’s a simple math equation: if the entire employee lifecycle (from recruitment to offboarding) is positive, then the top talent stays.
The digital workplace contributes to talent retention as it creates an environment for regular support and feedback, various social activities, recognition, team collaboration, and friendly competition. It also fosters personalization, allowing the training and development of employees according to their needs by getting analytical insights on their performance as well as predictions of their future needs.
- Streamlined communication
Collaboration and communication are the foundation principles of the digital workplace, as they support a more complex nature of teams in which people do their jobs in various places and at different times.
Online and user-friendly collaboration tools can increase productivity since they grant the opportunity to share information across a company, create user-generated content, discuss work-related questions with instant feedback, and get professional help from colleagues and executives within seconds. Smooth communication will also help to get rid of any misunderstandings, mitigate conflicts, and create a positive working atmosphere.
- Digital security
Technologies allow us to store all necessary information securely in the cloud with the possibility to access it on-the-go via any device. This is critical for businesses since most questions can’t be postponed and call for prompt actions.
Though cybersecurity threats will not vanish, you can minimize them by following these simple rules:
- think of your resources access levels based on a system of roles and permissions;
- set an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) to monitor and control the way the system is used;
- implement advanced security analytics that can detect and predict threats after collecting and processing data from multiple sources.
These proactive measures will protect your data, ensuring that processes like data encryption, data access privileges, recovery plans, and user authentication are reliable.
- Human-machine symbiosis
Human-machine symbiosis in the digital workplace will be governed by AI technologies, automation, and analytics. It will allow companies to build their talent pool in advance, by defining future needs and business goals. It’s likely that in the future, companies with open vacancies will be left behind since the war for talent won’t disappear and the need for highly skilled workforce will grow. This is why proactive in-house talent development will play a crucial role. The automation of routine tasks will leave employees to focus on more important and strategic activities as well as spend more time on learning and development geared towards personal and business growth.
The digital dynamic working environment should be embraced by those organizations who want to succeed in the future. It has clear advantages in terms of increased productivity, enhanced communication, mobility and flexibility, the attraction and retention of top talent, and an overall competitive ability.
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