Remote WorkThe digital workplace: What it is and why it’s fundamental to the future of work

Madelene Bernard · 2021-09-17
The digital workplace: What it is and why it’s fundamental to the future of work

The future of work is now – it is the new normal where work has become increasingly digitized, alleviating the everyday work experience of employees, upending notions of location-dependent work environments, and facilitating unprecedented levels of flexibility and productivity. This reality was made possible by the widespread adoption of cloud technology and digital work tools. This technology-enabled intersection of people and processes is defined as the digital workplace. 

The Digital Workplace – A definition

The digital workplace is an evolving way of working. It is a comprehensive digital work environment that is enabled by tools that equip people to work in effective ways. A digital workplace allows flexibility and agility to deliver business results. 

A regular workday in a digital workplace might involve: Employees work using collaborative tools such as Miro and Notion, communication apps such as Slack and Zoom, document sharing platforms like Google, design platforms such as Figma, project management platforms such as Jira, Clubhouse, Linear, and Clickup, content management systems, cloud storage tools, and many more. 

In this workplace: 

  • Success depends on the seamless intersection of people, technology, and processes. 
  • Communication takes a leading role in establishing rules, processes, and success metrics. 
  • Productivity and engagement are prioritized rather than a focus on presenteeism. 
  • All operations are informed and driven by data, allowing more transparency, fairness, and accountability. 

The rise of digital interconnectedness allows flexibility in where people work, and the success of asynchronous work facilitates different working styles and work times. 

Why adopt a digital workplace?

Organizational flexibility

A digital workplace fosters an asynchronous work environment which is the bedrock of workplace flexibility. By definition, async work allows employees to work at a time, place, and pace that enables them to bring their best selves to work. In a digital workplace, technology that is supported by the right processes enables employees to experience flexibility in terms of work schedules and work environments. The digital workplace removes the need for traditional 9-5 schedules and paves way for work-life balance that fits more coherently with goals, targets, and success metrics. 

Better productivity 

Productivity is the ability to do better work in a given frame of time. Better work is facilitated by collaboration, better ideas, and the seamless sharing of thoughts and ideas. All these happen easily and inherently using digital tools that power digital workplaces. Streamlined processes, inspired digital collaboration techniques and platforms, faster sharing of information, and a focus on shared goals intersect with human ingenuity to yield an unprecedented level of productivity in digital work environments. 

Effective communication and increased innovation

Effective Communication

A digital workplace removes the barriers and hierarchies that exist in traditional work environments. Modern communication tools ranging from instant messaging apps to virtual conferencing platforms, allow real-time, cross-functional, and cross-hierarchical communication that is location and hierarchy-agnostic. Information, feedback, and ideas can flow seamlessly across digital organizations, increasing opportunities for serendipitous solutions or scopes for innovation.   

A more employee-centric workplace

The employee’s well-being, health, and professional growth find a renewed focus in digital workplaces. Digital environments, where processes are designed to alleviate the employee work experience, place an emphasis on monitoring stressors and anomalies that might lead to negative employee experiences. In this context, digital unpluggingburnout prevention, and employee work-life balance all become core aspects of digital workplaces. 

Employee centric workplace

Better hiring, retention, and engagement

Several studies have shown that the modern workforce demands an evolved and future-ready work environment, In fact, a Deloitte study discovered that  64% of employees would opt for a lower-paying job if it provided workplace flexibility, and organizations that enabled social connectedness using digital tools reported a 20% increase in employee engagement. An engaged and digitally supported workforce also led to an increase in employee retention by 87% according to another Deloitte study

Better business performance

A digital workplace significantly reduces operational costs – from lower real estate investments to cutting down overheads for travel or administrative purposes, an investment in digital workplaces is a competitive advantage and alternative to traditional work environments. These perks of digitally enabled remote work combined with increased employee productivity, studies have shown that organizations that adopted digital workplaces reported a 43% increase in revenue

Better business performance

Agile and future-ready business

Disruption, be it in the forms of disruptive technologies, or innovative competition, or unfortunate global pandemics, is a norm that organizations have to bear in mind as they grow. To stay ahead of the competition, businesses have to be able to pivot, adapt, and thrive in the midst of unforeseen disruptions. A digital workplace allows companies to be agile by providing solid frameworks for success that enables a resilient and flexible workforce through technology.   

How to build a functional and robust digital workplace: 

In order to build a successful digital workplace, leaders have to focus on leveraging their existing IT infrastructure, using their toolbox to drive better collaboration, communication, and connection amongst their people, while staying cognizant of how their efforts translate into measurable business outcomes. 

Digital workplace tools

A focus on the tools

Technology and tools form the backbone of a successful digital workplace. In order to successfully establish digital work practices, leaders must take a diligent look at what tools their existing IT infrastructure comprises that enable their workforce to get their work done. In tandem with analyzing existing tools, leaders must devise goals and objectives for their digital workplace that will inform their business’ digital strategy. 

A thorough strategy that enunciates business goals can help identify focus areas for investment and find a holistic usage of the IT infrastructure. 

Deloitte digital workplace study

A focus on the processes

Digital workplace initiatives should be designed with streamlined end-to-end processes in mind. Moving to a digital workplace is an opportunity for leaders and managers to rethink and re-imagine how their teams work and align their thought-process to a new way of working. Complete, effective, and transparent communication, guidelines on tool usage, and frameworks for workflows are all inherent aspects of the process definition.     

How does work happen in a team? Who does what, when, and how? What happens when there’s a bottleneck? Who to reach out to if there are questions or concerns? How do ideas and inspiration transfuse within the organization? Understanding the many responses to such questions and devising seamless tech-enabled responses will pave the way to a sustainable digital workplace process.  

Focus on people

A focus on the people

An organization’s culture plays a significant role in establishing a digital work environment. The key is to understand how employees connect, collaborate, and communicate with each other to inform what process and tools can best support their everyday work activities. A successful digital workplace is one that prioritizes productivity and employee well-being.

Data at the core of success 

Multidimensional operational visibility, controlling compliance, managing risks, understanding business value of efforts – every aspect of a functional and robust digital workplace will and should be guided by data. The wealth of information that a digital workplace provides will enable leaders to gain an unprecedented understanding of what drives success within their organization, how to better structure their processes, and how to support their people. Deep insights from data will enable better decision-making, allow transparent sharing of information, and a thriving work environment. 

With advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, data will also guide leaders to address and prepare for changes that will help organizations evolve into the future of work.

💡 Hatica enables engineering teams to maximize the potential of their digital workplaces. Data-driven insights from Hatica helps engineering managers and leaders identify trends of developer productivity while also providing visibility into engineer engagement and well-being.

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