It was once believed that investing in creating a ‘digital workplace’ was only a priority for ‘digital nomad’ employees who needed to be able to work whenever or wherever they wanted. That’s clearly changed with the pandemic, with the majority of the workforce effectively becoming digital nomads overnight, while many businesses have committed to a degree of remote working for the foreseeable future.
There are a number of key considerations for organizations when it comes to getting this transition right and creating a high-quality, supportive digital workplace. Here, we explore how businesses can respond in a way that builds engagement and enables them to win in the battle for top talent.
Assess the employee journey
While some companies had digital worker personas identified prior to COVID-19, other companies had no persona profiles in place in order to assess how to respond to the pandemic.
Regardless of where businesses are, creating personas, if necessary, before reviewing and validating these remains an important first step. The employee journey in particular will need to be constantly reassessed as work patterns change and employees become more used to working with new digital technologies.
Creating the right home office
The transition to remote working clearly means that new technologies and tools need to be in place in order to support communication and collaboration between co-workers.
It also requires greater understanding among employers, with many digital workers finding that the transition to remote working means they’re expected to be always available.
As a result, businesses need to provide guidance on how to best set up a home office. This includes good practice guides stressing the importance of work-life balance and providing information on everything from when to take a screen break and get some fresh air, to when to close the home office at the end of the week and turn it back into a living space.
Businesses were already investing in collaboration technologies before the pandemic but take up of these was slow.
This is an example of what Gartner describes as the Digital Dexterity gap, where the pace of technological advancement is faster than employees’ ability to make use of new technology.
While the pandemic has rapidly closed this gap, the speed of adoption has resulted in poor practice in terms of optimizing the way employees collaborate. The strengths and weaknesses of collaboration tools have been exposed, with colleagues struggling to communicate or make sense of multiple messages about the same topics on different threads.
Businesses do need to respond to this, but they also need to avoid imposing restrictions that would stifle creativity. Establishing common approaches for virtual co-creation is a challenge that companies must resolve to make collaboration effective.
This isn’t something that can be solved through traditional training approaches. For many companies, the solution will be a digital coach, embedded within the company and with a remit to develop new solutions.
Ultimately, the pandemic has demonstrated the power of technology to enable businesses to overcome disruption. The companies that will thrive – during the pandemic and beyond – will take a best practice approach to harnessing this technology, ensuring it is used to empower employees and boost engagement.
This article touches on themes explored in depth in our latest issue of Digital Workplace Magazine. Download it to learn more about a best practice approach to creating a digital workplace, including the power of automation and AI, a new approach to SLAs, omnichannel technology support, and key cybersecurity considerations when embracing remote working.