Digital Workplace and a Supportive Culture

How companies can adapt and evolve as digital technology develops

Yechte Consulting Ltd, Ben Tellin

Strengthening the integration of digital in all areas of our lives is a blessing and curse. How can a business adapt to the digital world, remain open to innovation while balancing the needs of customers and employees?

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Enterprises benefit from increased digitisation with improved productivity, money saved and a flexible workforce. Enterprises run their operations more globally with a larger workforce. The balance of power between employer and employee has changed, often in favour of the employee. The ability to work anywhere and stay connected via smartphones, tablets and other devices help. Employees can work with colleagues to better keep the pace of digital trends than the companies they work for.

The new digital workplace also creates its own problems. Security, and a tendency to create expectations, often lead to storage problems. Integration of digital technologies into the workplace affects the productivity of workers, but also creates its own culture which affects the existing work culture. These changes will hamper work in the workplace, forcing the staff to adapt the way they interact with each other. Enterprises must create new policies and rethink their work culture or risk losing customers and employees.

Organisations that excel in this new environment are those open to innovation and using new digital experiences for their employees, including creating clear boundaries between work and non-work, and making the workplace human-centered rather than technology-centered.

Technology the enabler

The technology that supports an integrated workforce is improving yearly, allowing companies to support a dispersed team to achieve its goals. Mobile computing is expanding the access to a network of employees, connected by data and voice. Teams work around time zones, maintaining contact via Skype, VoIP, email and the cloud. Companies don't need to send employees on expensive flights to work with teams abroad anymore.

Today's employees can move where they want to work, rather than staying where the work begins. Companies can also create teams "on demand" via digital integration. It offers the opportunity of large networks of innovators, technical experts and experienced professionals from around the world. The employee works as an on-demand employee. This deprives managers, CIOs, HR and the rest of the team of the complexity and management of all these changes.

The face of the digital workforce

Digital technology already has a significant impact on the culture of work. The growing group of young mobile workers manage their careers on their own terms and often outside the categories that have defined the workforce for decades. Today's employees focus on integrating goals, mission, and work. They remain related to friends and family. Workers of all ages need to find a work/life balance so they can take more time off for their families, leave the city for short breaks. This balancing act involves the use of digital technologies that allow them to reach their goals.

In the world where mobile phones are geolocated, and the boundaries of work and life often blurred, the balance between work and life is difficult. People all over the world say they struggle to limit the amount of technology they consume, or how it invades their lives. Employees also often face complex, cross-functional teams that unite at a rapid pace, which makes it difficult to form cohesive teams.

Failure to solve these problems can lead to burnout. Employees may not be able to completely disconnect from work or see themselves as leaders. This growing problem of burnout and constant "attachment" to mobile devices, e-mail or other digital formats leads to nosediving productivity.

Despite the struggle to break away from work, this rapid growth in digital and social networks influences how people work together. People exchange ideas, information, and requests faster than anyone else in history. The explosion of external data (data on social networks, recruitment networks, and talent networks) created a new world of data about employees outside the company that is used to gain knowledge about the culture and processes of an organisation.

All this can be an advantage or a disadvantage. Today's organisations live in an era where any business decision is immediately disclosed online through sites such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Twitter and others. Personal issues are now published online for each potential employee. In view of this new transparency, the culture of the organisation can be a competitive advantage.

Digital implementation: how to make Digital well

Regardless of where the organisation is on the road to digital change, leaders can take steps to create an enabling environment:

1. Create your own culture for digital support

Managers give to their company a competitive advantage and attract the best talent by creating a workplace culture that manages digital implementation. Studies show that these companies provide a higher level of customer service and are more profitable.

Enterprises need to integrate people into the digital workflow and encourage them to communicate with each other. One way to do this is to encourage interaction from person to person. Many companies still encourage personal, not virtual, meetings. Some companies also urge their employees to get up to talk to a colleague on the same floor, rather than via email.

2. Treat your employees as customers

As the labour market warmed up, and new technologies exploded, the power passed from the employer to the employee. The task of the organisation is to make room for people to grow up and feel part of the team. Leaders must create digital experiences for their employees or they risk to disorganise the organisation.

A positive digital culture allows team members to feel connected and nested, even when scattered around.

3. Be open to innovation

Be open to creative solutions for employees, even something that looks like a "temporary shell", for example, applications like Slack. Employees are more likely to turn to effective systems than to managers, and a good leader should be open to this type of innovation, rather than limiting it.

Prepare for innovation by eliminating obstacles and expanding the capabilities of your employees. Provide employees with opportunities to leave their usual careers and adapt their work to their personal skills and goals. Create a more open work environment with increased transparency.

All this can bring any company on the way to a successful digital workplace and a supportive human culture.

Is your current organisation's work culture supportive enough of your needs?

Or do you feel it should be a better place? Let us know in the comment section below.

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