According to the latest industry research the Digital Workplace Market is expected to grow from USD 13.4 billion in 2018 to USD 35.7 billion by 20231. Here we explore what is commonly meant by “the Digital Workplace”, the benefits that it can offer and how contemporary physical coworking spaces compliment many of the advantages of the Digital Workplace.
What is the Digital Workplace?
There are many varied definitions of what the Digital Workplace is, but this explanation provides a good reference point.
The Digital Workplace is the concept that businesses should use digital transformation (DX) to align technology, employees and business processes to improve operational efficiency and meet organizational goals. Meant to be the virtual compliment to the physical office space, the Digital Workplace is a broad term that includes any device, software or platform that staff members use to execute their jobs.2
The Digital Workplace is a working environment. It embraces people, tools and culture. It’s an environment where employees can find all the processes and information they require to succeed in their role. Within this environment they can share knowledge easily and quickly and gather help and information from co-workers.
Much like the ethos of coworking itself the Digital Workplace is founded on the principles of integration and collaboration. A central digital platform hosts data from various software systems (e.g. CRM, ERP etc.) making the information and associated applications available to all and thereby promoting cross-location collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Modern companies benefit from the free flow of information and experience positive effects on their flexibility and abilities to innovate. Employees benefit from greater engagement and involvement and gain satisfaction from passing the right information to the right people at the right time.
Benefits of the Digital Workplace:
- Freedom to work independently of time and location
- All software systems located on one platform
- Secure and simple access to information
- Easy and fast sharing of knowledge
- Simplified workflows through digitisation
- Focus on goals as opposed to employee presence
- Provide employee satisfaction through involvement and engagement
- Gather information and help from colleagues
With productivity and employee wellness at the top of the corporate coworking agenda it’s easy to see the Digital Workplace can support employee satisfaction. Statistics from UP Research point to the flexibility that the Digital Workplace brings and its importance to employees.
According to Gartner Inc., the leading research and advisory company, "The Digital Workplace enables new, more effective ways of working, raises employee engagement and agility and exploits consumer-oriented styles and technologies.3
The Digital Workplace – Key Functions
At the core of the concept of the Digital Workplace is the aim to create a central information and work platform. To achieve this, businesses must integrate a host of implemented software systems meaning that, for example, an ERP such as SAP can be integrated into the web interface of the digital workspace. Consequently, information is available at any time, in any location to all authorized users.
No longer will employees have the inconvenience of switching between specialized applications, instead they can find all the functions in one place on the Digital Workplace.
Akin to many flexible workspaces, mobility and flexibility are at the centre of the Digital Workplace. Any number of employees can perform their roles in dynamic work environments. It doesn’t matter if they are in the office, on the train or at home. Employees have even more influence on the devices that should be used and require that the Digital Workplace gives them access to all the information they need, when they need it.
With businesses already embracing the productivity and employee wellness benefits that flexible workspace brings, the home office and the principle of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) are already embedded in the Digital Workplace. Working in this way enables daily work to be facilitated more easily and becomes more flexible and it provides the employee with more freedom to work at times and locations that suit them. Employee satisfaction and motivation is increased, and work can be conducted where the employee feels comfortable and productive. Essentially the Digital Workplace enables the focus to shift from the employee’s physical presence to the result of their efforts. For forward thinking companies this approach drives greater efficiency and provides an advantage in attracting the best talent.
Applications enable the digital workspace to be expanded and modified to meet individual business requirements.
Using selected applications provides a huge variety of possibilities from simple processing of holiday and travel expense requests through to complex project management. Applications can also be linked to social components of the Digital Workplace. This enables tasks to be commented on directly and employees can provide feedback to posts and ideas
When using applications within the Digital Workplace, a customised and personalised platform can be developed. This means that every employee can be served with their own personal dashboard where they can quickly and easily navigate the options available. Consequently, employees only see information that’s relevant to them, improving security and usability. The benefits in productivity can be realised in a short space of time.
The clear structure of the Digital Workplace accelerates work. The long-winded search for required documents and files is a thing of the past. Work processes are undertaken with greater ease and automated to some extent.
Clearly defined workflows provide the framework for business processes to run smoothly and employees can achieve many tasks such as bookings, authorisations, approvals etc. quickly and without resorting to paper. Automatic reminders reduce the chances of important tasks being forgotten. Clearly when looking at process optimisation, an integrated Digital Workplace provides much more than the traditional intranet.
Significant savings in time and money can be achieved when processes are handled in a standardised manner across an entire organisation. The Digital Workplace can provide these benefits.
Many employees point to the flood of everyday emails as one of the biggest problems with internal communication. The Digital Workplace can ease the pain and simplify internal communication considerably. Elements from social media can be introduced such as team collaboration, project work and groups all working together in a virtual space. As with the physical coworking environment, the Digital Workplace enables employees to easily exchange knowledge and work solutions as well as share documents.
Adopting a fully integrated Digital Workplace requires and indeed actively promotes, a cultural change for organisations. A modern progressive business thrives on establishing networks, exchanging knowledge and encouraging innovation.
The future of the Digital Workplace
The Digital Workplace is an ongoing process rather than an event or piece of software. It has existed, in one form or another, for many years. It is expected to evolve, reshape and redefine itself indefinitely.
Businesses can’t expect to undertake a single digital transformation program, buy some new software, and simply ask employees what they need. Organisations will need to keep revisiting the Digital Workplace and be flexible enough to embrace and adapt to the new waves of change that will continue to disrupt how work has traditionally been done
A Digital Workplace is a conscious and ongoing commitment. Businesses may feel like observers, that the Digital Workplace is happening around them, but they have an opportunity to steer its development and move its direction to their advantage.
In the same way that flexible offices with extensive amenities are here to stay, so is the ongoing need for digital transformation in the workplace.
1 "Digital Workplace Market" by Component (Solutions and Services), Organization Size, Vertical (BFSI, Telecommunications and ITEs, Media and Entertainment, Retail and Consumer Goods, and Manufacturing), and Region - Global Forecast to 2023. Published by Marketsandmarkets.
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