How to create a digital workplace

How to create a digital workplace

Here's what companies need to keep in mind as they plan ahead.

Credit: Jason Strull / Unsplash

A recent Gartner survey on the digital worker experience found that employees who appreciate their apps and technology — and use them — are far more likely to stay twice as long as those that don’t. In part, that’s because the COVID-19 pandemic made it simpler to change jobs, with interviews all conducted online — and the realisation that a new job might not require a move. That’s made it more challenging to retain talent, Tay said.

Recent Gartner research showed that organisations pushing in-office practices to at-home workers — such as virtualising onsite practices, adding monitoring systems, and increasing the number of meetings — actually exacerbated employee fatigue.

The 2021 Hybrid Work Employee Survey of more than 2,400 workers in January 2021 revealed that employees who now spend more time in meetings are 1.24 times more likely to feel emotionally drained from their work. Overall, the fatigue brought on by bringing in-office practices into remote-work environments can decrease performance by 33 per cent — and these employees are as much as 54 per cent less likely to remain with their employer.

What to consider when planning a digital workplace

First, forget the physical office, said Tay, who’s not convinced the physical office will have a future at many organisations. (And it’s likely to have a smaller role at many others.)

He advised IT organisations to choose technologies that are flexible and easy to integrate, so businesses can orchestrate processes and tools more flexibly and easily — and manage updates and other maintenance with little or no user impact.

User experience matters, too. The worker should be top of mind, and IT departments and organisations need to consider how staffers work, behave, and use technologies to be productive. In addition to user experience, finding ways to automate work through RPA can focus employees on higher-value, more-rewarding work. Remember that automation might be seen as a way to cut jobs (even if the data aren’t so dire), which can damage morale and risk employee retention.

One key attribute of the digital workplace is that it should embrace continuous change, Tay said — not only in technology but in skills development and process.

Francis listed several aspects of the digital workplace that IDC considers essential:

  • An efficient, scalable, and adaptable “digital workforce” (meaning chatbots, other software robots, and RPA software) that can be deployed to automate and augment a variety of work activities.
  • An intelligent, federated work environment that minimises context switching by intelligently and proactively serving up the resources required for important tasks.
  • Secure connectivity to people, non-human digital workers, and corporate resources anytime, anywhere, from any device type.
  • Collaborative tools that enable a conversational workplace (including people and non-human digital workers, as well as business partners, customers, and other stakeholders).
  • Strong security and governance that don’t hinder productivity or diminish the experience.
  • Human resources and administrative solutions that are self-explanatory, self-aware, and self-service.
  • Intelligent, agile, and adaptive learning systems that enable new skills and continuous learning.
  • Integrated workplace-sensing systems that optimise and personalise the employee experience and enhance productivity, safety, and security.
  • Knowledge insights connecting experts to relevant content across departments and business processes.


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