There is no way to get around the topic of the digital workplace. 2020 has given a greater boost to mobile working than any other previous year. Many companies have finally recognised that working methods need to fundamentally change – namely by becoming more mobile and flexible.
However, this "workplace of the future" is not a product that companies can introduce within a short period of time, but rather a profound change that extends from their corporate culture and working models all the way to their technological infrastructure. In this article, you will find out more about what constitutes a modern workplace and how this change can be managed.
What do companies ultimately expect from a digital workplace? In addition to obvious efficiency gains and more productive working methods, the key drivers include the optimisation of business processes with a view to reducing costs and remaining competitive in the long term.
A closer look at many companies reveals that they primarily associate the digitalisation of the workplace with mobility and technology. Employees, by contrast, mainly think of it in terms of new working time models as well as teleworking or remote work. Many companies are now tackling the issue of digital workplaces and are developing organisation-wide workplace and mobility concepts.
Whereas a few years ago the classic conference call was still number one among the most frequently used collaboration tools, various online meeting platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom have now become firmly established. As a result of the intuitive use of mobile devices and modern applications in the private sphere, the demands on workplace tools are also increasing.
Employees also want more flexibility in terms of where they work. Against this background, companies need to fundamentally rethink their technological infrastructure to make daily work easier and more mobile. In the competition for talented employees, companies must meet the growing demands of applicants. Work and life have to be compatible, working hours should be flexible and the information and applications required for modern work must be quickly available. But are these demands realistic and should companies strive to meet them? One thing is certain: Both parties benefit from a modern workplace – employees are happier, more motivated and more productive, which translates into increased efficiency and lower staff turnover for companies.
The trend is increasingly moving away from fixed office workplaces – teleworking and remote work are definitely on the rise. At the same time, employees don't necessarily have to work from home. Given the large number of desk-sharing and co-working spaces available, they can work in a professional office environment from practically any city or country. All they need are the right tools to access company data and systems and the ability to communicate easily with their team.
The digital workplace is fundamentally changing the way employees work. Instead of decentralised filing and sluggish knowledge and information sharing, a digital workplace provides secure access to all relevant company applications and data – at any time and from any device. It thus combines information, interaction, collaboration and business processes – with a focus on the user.
Sophisticated workplace concepts integrate and combine a wide variety of applications. An intranet portal serves as an information and communication tool for employees and as a central point of access to important information and data. Teams can either collaborate directly via the intranet or via Microsoft Teams, which can be used to create an additional collaboration solution.
Meanwhile, the connection to a central document management system enables the central storage of documents, which can then be jointly edited, shared or archived. With its diverse tools, the digital workplace is thus a basic prerequisite for location-independent working, empowering employees to network, communicate and collaborate regardless of time and place.
But despite the higher levels of productivity and satisfaction that come with mobile working, employees often complain about the lack of social contacts within their team. In order not to lose sight of the corporate culture and to foster a sense of togetherness, organisations should find flexible teleworking arrangements that combine the social needs of employees with the option of focused work from home.
Many studies have shown that a modern, digital workplace with intuitive applications increases labour productivity. One example of such productivity gains is the time saved by eliminating the need to commute to work. Employees not only use the time they gain for their own leisure – a surprisingly high proportion of this time is returned to the organisation through additional working hours.
When some companies analysed employees' working hours during teleworking, they found that almost 60% of the time saved is actually spent on work. In addition to these efficiency gains, however, it is also worthwhile to take a look at potential savings in stationary offices. After all, physical workstations are expensive. If you add up the office rent, equipment and electricity costs and free benefits such as coffee and fruit, you end up with an enormous cost factor. If employees work from home or on the road, these expenses are drastically reduced.
The advantages of the digital workplace for companies and employees are obvious. What's important now is to put the digital transformation into practice. In addition to providing the necessary hardware, the activities of many employees could easily be digitally mapped. This is made possible by solutions for virtual team rooms, online meetings, digital document storage and digitalised business processes. All that companies need to do is to create the appropriate infrastructure, provide suitable and integrated tools and platforms and implement them across the organisation.
Nevertheless, this change must be underpinned by a new, sustainable digital strategy that also focuses on change management to guide employees through this transformation. Given the current push towards digitalisation and the growing demand for digital working environments on the part of employees, the introduction of modern workplaces requires the backing of management. Only a clear vision, strategy and concept will ensure that the workplace of tomorrow and the digital transformation can be implemented throughout the entire organisation. A structured approach combined with the right selection of tools will ultimately make this project a success.