Digital Workplace – What it is and Why it is so Important

October 06, 2021  •  Reading Time: 11 min.

As times change, companies are facing ever new challenges. The topic of digitalization is particularly important these days, and the desire of many employees to work independently of location and time is becoming more and more prevalent.

Working in digital workplaces plays an important role in this context, because employees want to be able to work as flexibly and freely as possible and not be tied to a fixed physical workplace. In the “battle” for new workers, the digital workplace is therefore becoming one of the most important criteria that companies are expected to meet in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Top view of a man working in a digital workplace on laptop, two screens, two keyboards, and more

Definition: what is a digital workplace?

The digital workplace offers both companies and their employees a service-oriented and organized solution for accessing data, applications and information at any time and from any device.

Put simply, it is a central work platform that is available to employees and organizations digitally and regardless of location.

All the necessary tools, technologies, data and areas are united there to enable comprehensive and location-independent collaboration. Many work steps can be automated, tasks can be prioritized, and thus work processes can be more streamlined and targeted. At the same time, the digital workplace also serves as an information hub that provides employees with knowledge about various corporate processes or their daily tasks, access to the documents and applications.

Copywriters, graphic designers, online marketing managers, and even professions in the logistics, IT, or e-commerce are becoming increasingly digitalized and can be practiced virtually from anywhere in the world thanks to digital workplace solutions – all it takes is the right technology and tools.

Current digital workplace trends in organizations include making the digital workplace a workplace platform that does not only have the latest collaboration tools, communication tools and technologies (digital transformation) but also changing the whole business model and culture of the organization – which benefits the employee experience and also the work-life balance of employees.

How does a digital workplace transformation look like?

  • The digital workplace strategy represents a central work platform that makes all data, information and applications available to employees regardless of location.
  • A central work platform enables efficient and simple work processes and also simplifies the communication within the company.
  • Projects and work assignments can be completed more quickly and, above all, employee satisfaction can be increased.
  • The correct and complete implementation of the digital workplace is particularly important in order to take advantage of all the benefits and ensure smooth and efficient operations.

To successfully implement a digital workplace solution in a company, many tools, technologies and processes are necessary. Building a digital workplace does not happen overnight and is a long-term project that requires good planning and organization. Therefore, it is best to proceed step by step and initially provide only the most important functions and technologies for employees.

Key components of the overall framework of a digital workplace:

  • Process/technology transformation
  • Business model transformation
  • Cultural/organizational transformation
woman with grey blouse and black glasses typing on a laptop with one hand, holding back a pile of paper work with her other hand

How can a digital workplace actually be established?

We will now show you in 5 steps how these key components can effectively be implemented:

Step #1: developing a vision

It is important to have a clear idea of what the organization’s work flows should look like in 3-5 years. What work equipment will be needed? What is a reasonable period for the use of the equipment? Who may order which devices and when? How large should the selection be? These and similar aspects should be strategically planned and defined in advance.

Step #2: working together, not against each other

Reconciling the wishes and ideas of the CIO and CFO is sometimes difficult. Young, dynamic IT managers in particular want to bring about a cultural change as quickly as possible and plan extensive investments to renew the company’s infrastructure. Financial managers, on the other hand, primarily see the costs and often reject such projects or at least try to slow them down. Fortunately, there are utilization concepts that make it possible to distribute payment flows over the useful life of a digital workplace, preserve the company’s liquidity, and thus reconcile the requirements of the CIO and CFO.

Step #3: demand-oriented action

Not every employee has the same hardware and software requirements. For example, those who do most or all of their work in an office are best equipped with a stationary desktop PC. Employees in the field need lightweight and robust notebooks, while for graphic artists, designers and developers, the performance of their work device plays a greater role than its weight and size.

Step #4: slow approach

Instead of spending weeks developing concepts and then replacing all the PCs at once in a mass rollout, workstations should be modernized on a needs-oriented basis – step by step. Workplace concepts with flexible, shorter runtimes help with this strategy. Employees receive their work equipment when they really need it, instead of being assigned a new device after rigid depreciation cycles.

Step #5: realistic planning

Despite all the enthusiasm for new digital workplace trends and digital workplace solutions, the working reality of employees must not be forgotten. That is why it is important not to simply plan the digital workplace, but to talk to those directly affected in day-to-day practice and find out how new tools and technologies can be used effectively in specific work situations.

Overall, it is advisable to rely on flexible usage concepts that combine a needs-based purchase with a distribution of costs over the entire usage period. If employees can also configure and order their own workstation via a self-service portal, this does not only improve satisfaction and employee experience within the company, but also increases efficiency and performance.

Why you need to build a digital workplace

By introducing a central, fully digitized work platform, companies can achieve a whole range of benefits. A digital workplace provides more flexibility and thus agility in work processes and improves the flow of information and communication between departments. Likewise, it can help ensure that employees are more satisfied and engaged due to the simplified workflows.

The digital workplace is all about the digital transformation that has taken place in organizations in recent years. As more and more new technology is implemented and many useful tools for the digital workplace are created, we think it’s about time you set up your digital workplace.

Advantages of a digital workplace strategy

First and foremost, a digital workplace can significantly increase collaboration and thus employee productivity.

Your digital workplace can also have a supporting and accelerating effect on decision-making or the various processes in everyday work and significantly improve the flow of information between the individual departments.

At the same time, such a service-oriented solution also increases the satisfaction and commitment of many employees who have long wanted an improved workflow and efficient collaboration with different departments.

Thanks to an innovative, fast and independent way of working, employees also no longer waste so much time searching for documents or files and can therefore work more concentrated and complete tasks faster. Procedures can be handled quickly, which of course also significantly increases customer satisfaction.

In addition, a central work platform for all employees promotes the company-wide exchange of knowledge, which is a great advantage especially for globally active companies or companies with multiple locations and simplifies and shortens many processes.

Visibility and control

A digital workplace is creating a work environment that is more transparent, where all team members can track the status of any project or task they are involved in, resulting in fewer emails to follow up on and more work to get done. Team leaders can list all tasks to be completed, assign them to other members, set deadlines, and ensure everyone is on the same page.

The automation of business processes

A digital workplace with innovative business applications can automate repetitive processes that typically take up a lot of employee time, such as document approval and data entry. When employees are no longer slowed down by such tasks, they can focus on the more complex tasks and processes that require innovative thinking and problem solving.

Better collaboration through modern communication tools

A smooth communications infrastructure and effective collaboration tools and technologies are extremely important. The corporate technology should definitely be able to handle all data transmissions and also video and telephone conferences without any problems to ensure smooth operations.

Support for remote employees

The digital workplace offers optimal support for remote employees. Remote employees choose their preferred work environment or office space and also determine how they want to manage their work-life balance. This can improve the employee experience and overall employee satisfaction.

Benefits for organizations

Digital workplaces don’t just improve the employee experience within an organization. Digital transformation, new and innovative tools and technologies, and the implementation of this new technology also benefit the organization. Among other things, employee productivity is significantly increased by:

  • The promotion of knowledge sharing across the organization
  • The faster availability of information
  • Improving overall collaboration
  • The mapping of work flows without delay
collage of portraits of different people of different race, age, and gender. all smiling

4 success factors for your digital workplace

In order to achieve the original goal of a digital workplace, various basic requirements must be met so that all the benefits can be fully tapped.

Success factors of the digital workplace:

Success factor #1: forward-thinking training of employees

It is important that employees learn exactly the competencies that the company will need in the future. It is therefore of great importance that the most suitable technical and organizational structure is introduced.

Success factor #2: creating space for innovation

  1. Create a culture of innovation where employees are rewarded, not punished, for mistakes, experiments or failures.
  2. Give employees access to digital tools.
  3. Give employees the opportunity to learn and help them acquire the skills to use digital tools and develop a new mindset.

Success factor #3: the digital workplace itself

Employees’ workstations must be brought up to the latest digital standards and the IT infrastructure updated so that all new digital tools can be integrated into the company’s system.

Success factor #4: communication – digital, analog and above all frequent

Communication consists of two parts: first, a message is sent and second, it is received. However, if the second part is missing, i.e. if the message is never received, no communication can take place. To ensure that messages reach all employees, it is therefore necessary to ensure that they are transmitted in both analog and digital form.

How to tell if a digital workplace is working properly

  • Employees are satisfied: in effective digital workplaces, employees enjoy greater flexibility in both their working hours and their work environment.
  • Tools and technologies work effectively: with digital tools like mobile intranet software, the employees can connect from anywhere and have less need to adhere to a strict schedule.
  • Goals are achieved: quantitative goals can be measured using concrete data, while measuring qualitative goals relies heavily on employee surveys and success stories.

4 common misconceptions about the digital workplace platform

Misconception #1: digital workplace equals work from home

The terms “digital workplace” or “digital workspaces” refer to a change in the way companies think and not (just) to the fact that employees work from their home offices.

Misconception #2: all you need for your digital workplace is a few tools and new technology

The use of digital tools or technology alone is not enough to transform the culture of companies.

Misconception #3: digital workplaces are only temporary

The digital workplace is here to stay. The ideas associated with the concept of the digital workplace will fundamentally restructure our working world and change it in the long term.

Misconception #4: the digital workplace makes work easier

In fact, many work routines and communication workflows are becoming significantly more complex. This is because when employees are given more competencies and are integrated into decision-making structures, there is an increased need for exchange, communication and coordination.

Conclusion

The digital workplace may well become the workplace of the future, but of course all requirements must be met by the company. A logical user interface, a strong corporate network and the guarantee of data protection are the most important criteria for a smooth process. Only then can the effort also yield all the benefits that such a transformation entails.

Employees can also benefit to a particular extent from the digital transformation and make their own, as well as joint, work processes more efficient and easier. Communication and the correct handling of the various applications are the be-all and end-all here. For this reason, all employees should receive sufficient training on the new system(s). In addition, the implementation of flexible working time models and mobile working methods is important in order to achieve the goal of a digital workplace.

For companies, too, the implementation of a central work platform and the digitalization of their processes is essential in today’s world and will soon be indispensable (irrespective of the industry). Above all, companies benefit from improved work flows and thus from higher employee and customer satisfaction. In order to compete for talent, offering such work model can be a serious advantage and should not be neglected.

Digital workplace FAQ

What is a digital workplace?

A digital workplace is a strategy for an organization that combines all the necessary tools, domains, and ways of working to increase employee productivity and customer satisfaction.

What kind of workplace strategy is a digital workplace?

The digital workplace is geared to the needs of employees. Here, employees find the technology tools they need in order to work smoothly.

What are current digital workplace trends?

– Merging of tools
– Enhanced platforms
– Continuing automation
– Focus on employee engagement and empowerment

What are the best digital workplace solutions right now?

– Slack
– Trello
– Dropbox Business
– Asana