Jim Steinlage, President & CEO of Choice Solutions,
A digital workspace strategy allows your employees to be productive anywhere, anytime, using any device. As mobile devices and apps continue to revolutionize the way companies operate, it’s imperative that your own organization not fall behind, as the result can be failing to attract, engage, and retain top talent.
More Than Investments in Technology
Technology in and of itself is not what makes for an efficient digital workspace. In fact, many employees have become increasingly frustrated by having to remember numerous app logins and wasting time searching across multiple locations for information. Add to that the need to deal with performance and security issues, and what you may end up with is a high-tech workplace with a low-enthusiasm staff.
The goal of an intelligent and efficient workspace it to empower employees to do their best work while maintaining a high-quality user experience.
Why Invest in Digital Workspace Solutions?
The short answer is there are a lot of benefits to making such an investment.
- A secure digital workplace
- Consolidated user experiences across multiple devices
- A unified administration experience
- Integration of data across various applications, both on-premises and in the cloud
- Access anywhere, at any time, on any device
Today’s work environment is all about virtual-based solutions. It’s time for HR and IT to collaborate on how to make it easy for employees to mobilize.
Some other benefits of the digital workspace include speed to market, greater productivity, better customer service, and enhanced employee satisfaction.
Digital Workspaces: The Future of Work
Today, the explosion of mobile devices and cloud computing has freed employees in ways that until recently were only dreamed of. People now work from home, client offices, in airports and in flight, and even at coffee shops. They have access to a variety of devices that operate on a variety of systems.
From emails to AI-driven feedback and employee data, work will continue to evolve side by side with technology. History tells us the two have always been connected.
In the 1950s, there were physical workspaces that were primarily driven by manual processes. Routine, repetitive functions were performed by hand, and technology, if used, was typically for record keeping. As I started the company in the mid-80’s and watched as the 1990’s ushered in the internet-enabled workspace that was defined by a mix of manual and tech-enabled processes and, though automation was used, it was with manual supervision. As we saw with Choice, we saw a growing focus on innovation and by 2015, digital workspaces were in place. They included intelligent automation with autonomous learning systems and a high focus on employee engagement and innovation.
The last few years we have seen technology evolving at a lightning pace and it’s been crazy for us in technology to keep up. It won’t be long before employees schedule their entire day around collaborative work tools and lifestyle apps. It is important that we help organizations get up to speed and embrace these changes as they occur.
Key Elements of Digital Workspace Adoption
We often talk about how technology is a vital player in your organization’s digital transformation, but it’s important to remember that an efficient digital workspace depends on a vision that focuses on realigning internal culture, operational processes, and technology. The best digital workspaces are those that support employee collaboration and boost productivity. And while technology enables these results, it’s the human factor that must take the top spot.
Three important elements of a digital workspace strategy are organization, guidance, and automation. Experts predict that by 2023, 1.88 billion people, accounting for 43.3% of the global workforce, will be mobile. Digital workspaces are needed to accommodate this shift.
Working together, HR and IT must embrace these transformational trends and deliver more efficient mobile and cloud-based solutions that give employees greater flexibility without loss of productivity.
Your organization hopefully has these components already:
- Organization. Users want easy access to their web, virtual, cloud, and SaaS applications across multiple devices. Of course, you want a secure login process that protects corporate data, but it’s possible to have that and make the sign-in process more productive.
- Guidance & Automation. In talking to users it’s safe to assume that all employees would love to eliminate the unnecessary log-ins, clicks, and swipes they often must perform before they can complete even the most routine of tasks. From customized workflows to personal to-do lists, users who are given personalized solutions that help them work smarter and reach outcomes faster are happier, more productive, and eager to help the company succeed.
Whether employees are using desktops, mobile devices, or both, a unified experience that works simply is essential. The best tool is one with a single point of entry that is familiar across device types. This enables employees to access everything they need from wherever they are. Instead of frustrating employees with multiple passwords, secure integrated identity and access controls make for a more convenient and happier sign-on process. Networking solutions should provide users with the app performance they need and demand, regardless of where they’re working or where the applications are hosted.
It Starts with the Employee Experience
Leadership must maximize the digital workspace experience employees have by making sure they’re engaged and motivated both in and outside the workplace. Putting the employee experience first means:
- Creating a strong company culture that accounts for a scattered workforce. When employees were tied to a traditional office setting, it was easier to sense the company culture the moment you walked in the door. Digital workspaces should create this same feeling for employees from wherever they log on. One way this can be accomplished is through encouragement of open and frequent communication between far-flung teams. When teams are empowered to work together easily and to find and share information quickly they experience a positive company culture and are more engaged and loyal to the organization.
- The digital generation expects their work to be personally rewarding. They value meaning and autonomy and demand technology that’s powerful, intuitive, and anticipates their needs. Organizations must deliver the devices, apps, and experiences to meet those expectations. And doing so comes with an added benefit. It fosters team building that focuses not only on work-related matters, but personal lives as wells. The goal should be to recreate a digital version of break rooms where employees have traditionally learned to bond and socialize together.
- It’s always worth reiterating how important employee feedback is and how seriously it should be taken, particularly from remote workers. After all, they represent the forefront of a changing work environment and are best equipped to inform employee experience standards your company develops. All employees should be encouraged to give feedback on processes and apps, because when employees believe they are being heard and see their ideas implemented, they are more likely to buy in to the company’s goals. And since employees are the ones walking the walk, when their feedback is sought and taken seriously, it often saves your company time and money. This is something that in my 40+ years of experience I have learned.
One of the most exciting innovations to come along has been how AI is helping to redesign the employee experience. HR leaders can now use AI-enabled digital communications to drive a culture of transparency and feedback, unlocking valuable insights that help your organization pursue a digital workspace that encourages constant involvement and fresh ideas from employees.
Today’s highly dynamic workspaces require regular feedback that not only helps employees work better, but also has a positive impact on HR metrics. AI makes it possible to overcome the traditional barriers to internal communications, helping you develop a culture of continuous feedback without disturbing workflows and while offering personalized learning to boost feedback impact.
What this all means is that HR and IT leaders must work together to develop and implement a new company culture that reflects the organization’s digital transformation. When they do, they can dramatically move the organization forward and drive the next generation of innovation, all while improving employee productivity and engagement.
Advances in mobile technology and real-time collaboration mean employees can now get more done in more places on multiple devices. Looking ahead, the possibilities appear endless, but you’ll need a detailed plan and the right partners to achieve the level of efficiency and productivity you’re hoping for. IT and HR can work together to create rewarding employee experiences while meeting your company’s needs.
Questions your HR and IT departments should be asking include:
- Can we meet the needs of this next generation of workers?
- How can we empower employees to be productive regardless of location or device?
- How do we deliver or the promise to put employees first?
- What are things we can do to attract and retain top talent?
The evolution of the workspace has just begun, but technology has already enabled workers to be more flexible in how and where they work. Future technology will likely deliver even greater freedom and flexibility with mobile device management critical to productivity in this rapidly evolving tech landscape. Reliable 24/7 communications systems will be essential, and collaboration will be further enhanced with virtual environments where teams can share ideas and assets seamlessly, regardless of location.
The bottom line? Work is no longer a geographic state of mind like it was from my beginnings compared to the past couple of years. As a flexible work environment becomes the reality for most companies, they’ll need to provide exceptional employee experiences to attract top talent. That means creating an environment that’s based on a unified user experience, integration, and security, and where employees feel engaged and connected despite working outside the traditional workplace.
At Choice Solutions we pride ourselves on creating a company culture that encourages team building and employee contributions, which has been a great way to build our organization’s digital workspace.