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The Human View: 5 Tips For Building A Better Digital Workplace

Alexander Wennerberg Larsson

Alongside my colleagues at UCIT and Hives, I work with organizations across the Nordics region to help them create better digital workplaces for their teams. When I engage in projects and change management advisory, I always advise companies to simply start off from a human point-of-view. Digital transformation can’t just be theory, process, or strategy. To make a real impact, it has to work intuitively for people in their daily work routines. Most organizations I encounter run into two major problems when bringing digital change to their teams:

Most organizations I encounter run into two major problems when bringing digital change to their teams:

 - It’s hard to engage people to really make the change to a digital mindset.

 - It’s challenging to make everyone at the company feel equally comfortable with the digital tools chosen for their workplace.

Let me start off with my definition of the Digital Workplace: A digital workplace is a one where you don’t need a physical office to collaborate and run a company.

You can have an office of course, maybe you even have great benefits of having one and making a big investment in having teams live in the same place. But a great Digital Workplace supports your workforce with the right services and support for making results and work happen regardless of time and place. There are many advantages to ensuring your team doesn’t require a shared physical space to keep work on track from retention to productivity.

So if you are aiming for a future-forward workplace that attracts the best workers, I would like to share a few pieces of advice I’ve learned working with various companies on their Digital Workplace transformation:

1. It’s not enough to have a structure or strategy for change.

The most successful organizations have created a culture of change by embracing change, not as a project, but as a way of being. This attitude and willingness to adapt has to be consistent throughout the organization, all the way from the top to your end-users, including every executive, team manager, and employee along the way.

To embrace change, you will have to talk about change. One way is to make sure to have regular workshops or meet-ups where you talk about how every team in the organization can contribute to making change easier to implement and, essentially, less scary.

2. Make it easy for co-workers to be a part of developing new ideas and improvements.

Do you remember that old mailbox in the office lobby to put suggestions and opinions in? It’s gone. But the need for it has not really changed. Luckily there are better solutions for engaging employees in company improvements through digital tools like online surveys or anonymous messages. But don’t forget to make the feedback visible, both the ideas themselves and what happens with them.

3. Focus on what drives results for the users.

The answer lies with the needs within your organization, be it more socializing, higher productivity, better collaboration, or improved work-life balance. When you fulfill the needs of your organization and co-workers, you could achieve results you didn’t know was possible. By putting the human needs of the organization first, for example, Microsoft raised their individual productivity from 37 % to 81 %. Now translate that into bottom-line results for the company… Incredible!

4. There is a new way to lead.

The remote Digital Workplace is transforming the way leaders have to act. With the transparency of digital tools, leadership is being shared with the group, setting high demands on your company culture.

Distributed teams that solely work together in digital offices have different challenges when it comes to creating a strong company culture. The lack of spontaneous meetings at the office requires new ways of communicating with your co-workers. Humans still need to socialize, being seen and heard, and have others to bat around their ideas with. So make it a habit to regularly collaborate, chat and have one-to-one meetings when you are remote. It’s really easy with the right digital tools like Trello, Slack, Hangouts or Skype. Don’t forget to have a sky high presence.

5. Remote work needs a portfolio of on-demand services.

Challenge your mindset of supporting and engaging end-users through traditional methods. Your users are getting used to having service and support on-demand from music and movies to food and chatting with friends. If you’re going to have a successful Digital Workplace (one that is as productive for remote workers as for co-located ones), you have to be able to support and engage all individuals regardless of time and geographical place.

Today, there is a ton of services helping you to be more end-user-supportive, all the way from collaboration to analysis and HR. Think more on-demand solutions and less mega-enterprise solutions. I promise it will give you amazing results in engaging users and increasing productivity. Just be sure that the solutions you pick out work as well on your phone or tablet as on your computer. Device compatibility is too often forgotten until the last minute!

Be sure to comment below if these Digital Workplace ideas get you thinking, or feel free to contact me if you have anything you want to talk about!