With easy access to core business applications, internal communications, and enterprise social networks, digital workplaces offer us a virtual equivalent to the brick-and-mortar workplace. Therefore, it is no surprise that the global digital workplace market is expected to reach USD 44.9 billion by 2026, rising at 21.5% CAGR despite the global pandemic. Even before the pandemic, Southeast Asia prided itself as a hub for telecommuters and digital nomads, with Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam leading the way.
Today, Gartner says that a digital workplace “enables new, more effective ways of working; raises employee engagement and agility; and exploits consumer-oriented styles and technologies.” Employee performance and morale are intricately linked with easy-to-use technology, as noted in a Harvard Business Review report sponsored by Freshworks.
Despite the increasing adoption of cloud services by companies, countless studies show company-sanctioned business software as chunky, hard to use, and needing a lot of external implementation support. Employees often prefer their own mobile, personalized, and intuitive devices to desk-bound enterprise applications. Fortunately, the digital workplace has rapidly shifted its emphasis from technology to users.
The physical and the digital workplace
As the pandemic transformed every aspect of life as we knew it, compulsory work-from-home mandates pushed companies to convert physical workplaces into connected workspaces through the use of apps, technology, and smart devices. This global move from the physical to the digital has been swift, confounding many people and raising generational barriers.
Digital may never replicate the experience of the physical workplace, but the world is changing fast. The digital workplace can offer businesses what they need to create transformational employee experiences focused on empowerment, collaboration, flexibility, and happiness. A mix of work culture, operational insights, digital know-how, and engagement initiatives can create game-changing employee experiences and help businesses ride the digital wave.
These best practices can help businesses achieve this mix in their organization.
1. Foster an innovative work culture
With value-based leadership and active collaboration, innovative work culture can enable employees to foster a sense of belonging in the digital workplace. Critical to this is building an organization that values the importance of work culture for employees, prioritizes employee initiatives, and dedicates significant resources to help employees make the most of the digital workplace.
2. Simplify communication and collaboration
Simple and effective communication is fundamental to organizational success.
In this digital environment, clarity across all business communications is crucial for teams to run efficiently and ensure high productivity levels while fostering strong company values. A break in communication among teams can be the rabbit hole that brings down productivity and creates a hostile environment where employees do not feel connected to their peers and cannot often air their apprehensions or ask for clarification on tasks.
To counter this, managers and team leaders must build a positive digital environment for employees based on clarity and openness of communication.
3. Promote employee engagement
The key to employee engagement is motivation. Employees need to feel part of a team to work productively. In practice, businesses must ensure that employees are appreciated for their individual roles in the big picture — the motivation to contribute stems from this appreciation and sense of belonging.
4. Empower employees with self-service apps
Employees experience the power of self-service in their lives every day as customers. For an organization to be productive, it is vital to replicate similar experiences in the workplace. According to Gartner analyst Carol Rozwell, “the idea of the digital workplace is to bring the same simplicity and intuitiveness to employees when they’re doing their mission-critical work.”
The experience of the digital workplace comprises all tools and technologies that employees use to work effectively. It spans across HR apps, core business applications, emails, instant messaging, enterprise social media apps, and virtual meeting rooms.
Businesses need to empower employees with one-stop self-service portals that provide quick access to digital assistants and self-service chatbots, saving cost and time. With interconnected workflows, routine tasks can be automated, empowering employees to spend more time on creative work. Such automation should include AI-driven smart and efficient feedback tools for employees to state what is working and what is not.
5. Chart a roadmap for the future of work
The age-old dichotomy between work and home has undergone a drastic transformation as more and more tech-savvy employees join the workforce, creating the need for a unified workplace experience that revolves around collaboration and meaningful use of data. With the ability to connect from anywhere and at any time, employees now joke about living at work instead of working from home. For organizations to thrive in this digital climate, understanding employees’ needs and addressing the changing nature of work are paramount.
The effective combination of connected tools and technologies, work culture practices, and the emphasis on employee experience empowers businesses to chart their roadmap to the future of work in the digital workplace.
Vinod Chandramouli, head of ASEAN business at Freshworks, wrote this article.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HR&DigitalTrends. Image credit: iStockphoto/holaillustrations