20 years ago, digital workplace experience was something for the movies. It was a dream - an experience that we never thought that we might find ourselves in. However, there is an entire annual conference now dedicated to the digital workplace experience. Understanding it is crucial to finding success in the future of business.
What is a Digital Workplace Experience? The importance of technology has been recognized in the workplace. A digital workplace experience is not only the use and existence of technology in an office setting but the ways in which employees participate in and understand augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and similar digitizations in the workplace.
There are a number of aspects within Digital Workplace Experience that need to be recognized in an organization. Evaluating a company’s ability to maintain an effective workplace that has no one location helps to keep them from falling behind. Employers must also work to make the transition to a more digital workplace smoother. Finally, the ability to connect and communicate digitally and in-person must still be an option for employees.
When an office is no longer located in a single building Monday through Friday, 9-5, but exists in an employee’s home, in co-working spaces, and in coffee shops around the world, organizations can find it difficult to keep the workplace effective. Understanding how to do this must start with grasping the concept of an effective workplace.
An effective workplace is one that encapsulates opportunities for learning, trust, work-life balance, autonomy, employee satisfaction, and a supportive leadership team. Organizations that make an effort to combine each of these six factors in the digital workplace is one that is sure to find that their digital workplace experience is a positive one.
Although employees might work from a remote location, they should still have the opportunity to learn. This might be through webinars, conferences, or even podcasts that offer up knowledge that can be beneficial to employees and their organizations.
Having a culture that encourages trust and a sense of ethics is one that will prove to be a more effective and positive experience, whether digitally or traditionally. Digital workplaces tend to trust employees to do their work on their own time and of their own volition. Remote employees do not have a supervisor looking over their shoulder to ensure work is being completed. Instead, they trust their employees to do what needs to be done.
A digital workplace offers the opportunity for a better work-life balance. With the ability to work from home or from any location, the need to spend an hour commuting to the office is less common. It also allows workers a more flexible schedule.
Autonomy is a big part of the digital workplace experience and an effective workplace. This means that people have some level of independence. With today’s technology, there is no need for employees to have a micromanager looking over their shoulder or a defined, mandatory schedule. There are some industries that might require a certain amount of structure, but for the most part, independence is made possible with digital technology.
Having satisfied employees is a huge benefit that comes with a properly used digital workplace. Not only is it important part of retaining employees, but satisfied employees do better work. They are more productive and work harder. Companies can invest in a long term employee and get a return on that investment.
Many fear that a digital workplace means the death of a team bond. However, there are a number of ways to maintain leadership and good relationships when work has become digital. By working to keep supervisors in a supportive role and developing a great working relationship, companies can help lasting bonds to form between workers of all levels.
Organizations tend to make the mistake of rushing the transition to a digital workplace. While it is a great idea to incorporate the technology that is available, it is not great to completely evade the traditional workplace and all that it involves. Rather, the two concepts should be integrated seamlessly in an effort to maximize productivity and offer employees a space in which they feel most comfortable to work.
How do companies accomplish this seamless integration? If an existing organization has a fully traditional office space, it would not be smart to suddenly close down the physical office location and tell employees they have to work from their homes. Instead, the company might have a trial period of just a few employees working from their homes a few days a week. Those employees should be those that flow with change and are not necessarily resistant to it.
When employees open to change experience the transition first, they can then help their coworkers to prepare and get ready for any additional changes. This is not to say that all employees will eventually have to be remote workers, but it is important that any technological changes are applied one step at a time.
It’s true - remote employees can’t chat over their morning coffee in the break room or check-in at the water cooler. They don’t have a neighboring desk to talk with when things are getting stressful. Does this mean that these employees have no ability to develop a connection with coworkers? In a single word: No.
Some people may find it uncomfortable, but it is amazing what seeing someone’s face or hearing their voice can do for creating a connection. While email and messaging is a great and fast way to talk, it often lacks personality. It doesn’t have to be a regular occurrence - a simple introduction call can help to put a face to the words you read on your screen.
You can also get a bit more personal in your communications. While sharing work details and getting down to business can be a good way to get things accomplished fast, it does little to develop the relationship. Instead, start with a more personal question, like “What did you do over the weekend?” or “Have any holiday plans?” These kinds of questions open the door for a brief chat into the personal life of coworkers.
Team events are always possible! Just because work is done remotely doesn’t mean that the company can’t organize in-person events and activities to get to know one another. A team that has a bond is a team that is more productive and has satisfied employees. Monthly dinners, a charity fun run, an annual retreat, or a bi-monthly baseball game allow employees to build relationships and the team.
By making an effort as a company to offer the best digital workplace experience possible, employees will stay longer and work harder. With the number of organizations offering more and more digital experiences, it is ideal for each company to have a greater understanding of how technology can make an impact on not only the workplace but the employees. Offering a quality digital workplace experience will carry companies into the future.
How does the digital workplace affect stress levels in employees? Having a digital workplace has the ability to decrease stress for a number of reasons. Many employees are less stressed in the comfort of their homes, it is easier to work around your personal schedule, and less interaction with tense situations.
What is coming in the future of the digital workplace? Technology is always improving and changing. Virtual reality has taken over the gaming world, but it is becoming more and more prominent in the office. Augmented reality is also something that will become more useful in the years to come.
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