Smartphones and laptops have already become the norm at home. Yet many people find themselves stuck in an analog world at work, despite the fact that setting up a digital workplace is not that difficult with a little preparation and planning.
According to the 2018/2019 D21 Digital Index survey, almost three-quarters of those in employment are interested in a digital workplace which will allow them to work remotely. And remote working and flexible working time models also benefit employers. A third of companies surveyed have reduced their costs, and almost the same number have seen an increase in their employees' productivity. A working environment based on the latest technology also provides a competitive edge in the war for talent. Despite these advantages, only 16 percent of all employees in Germany currently have access to a digital workplace, according to the D21 Digital Index survey. But with the right strategy and preparation, the digital workplace is relatively easy to implement.
Key to the successful rollout and integration of the digital workplace is good preparation and planning, which should consider and clarify the following aspects beforehand:
The IT rollout starts with a review of the existing IT infrastructure and the technologies used. The next step addresses the question of how company workplaces can be effectively optimized. Both the hardware and the software should be examined and considered in detail. Flexible working is only really possible once modern programs such as Office 365 and cloud-based solutions have been integrated. These allow processes to be completed digitally and from anywhere, whether it is a video chat or joint work on documents in the cloud.
The digital workplace should benefit not only knowledge workers but also the machine operator in the factory and the maintenance technician in the field. For the IT department and compliance specialist this means dealing with a growing number of different clients and types of end devices. This requires a change in thinking when it comes to delivering, administering, and securing the systems landscape. You should include the necessary preparations and staff allocation in your plan before the rollout to ensure that you avoid any bottlenecks.
A digital workplace can only reach its full potential if as many processes as possible are digitalized. Examples include the approval of invoices, storing and viewing documents and contract information, and self-service processes. That is why document management and enterprise content solutions are becoming increasingly important. This type of system is increasingly combined with artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation functions. Through learning processes, the AI takes on more and more routine tasks and allows the employees to concentrate on more important tasks.
Digital transformation also involves protecting workplaces, applications, and data from hackers over the long term. And not just from external attacks, but also from those that are initiated by the company's employees, be it through negligence or human error. That is why existing guidelines for IT security, compliance, and data protection must be reviewed and adapted as required before the rollout.
Whether a digital workplace strategy can be successfully implemented is heavily dependent on how well it is accepted by the employees. That is why it is essential that senior management and representatives from the departments, HR, and the works council cooperate to deliver this type of undertaking. A key task here is to allay workers' fears that their jobs could be threatened by digital processes and workplaces. Providing training early will prepare employees for the new digital work processes and support them through the rollout phase. It is also possible to involve employees in equipment selection via a self-service portal, giving them the opportunity to have a say.
The digital workplace should be developed and integrated in stages rather than in one huge rollout. This way, each component in the company can be carefully planned and incorporated, which gives employees time to adapt to the new working environment and gets them on board.
Implementing the digital workplace is not an impossible large-scale project, but if the planning is wrong or too short-term, it can miss its objective. A clearly defined strategy and well-planned preparations are key. In addition to the detailed definition of the IT infrastructure needed, internal processes should be reviewed and digitalized to ensure that workplaces can actually be used flexibly. It is also essential to get the workforce on board – providing training and communicating openly will help. Once you have all this in place, there is nothing to stop your workplace rollout from being a success.
Collaboration tools can link people and share knowledge across time zones and physical locations, making work more efficient and productive. But the prospective users have to be on board.