Gone are the days when the workplace merely provided a physical space that employees occupy during regular office hours. Today’s always connected, instant access environment has blurred the lines between the physical office and the place where work happens. As the distinction between professional and personal life dissolves, and the workplace
becomes truly digital, employees are communicating and collaborating in unprecedented ways.
To enable knowledge sharing across the many organisations that don’t even operate on the same continent, with the aim of forging productive relationships without even being in the same space, is becoming a global phenomenon, giving business’ the ability to actively control their activity in a specific country and at the same time, make it possible to communicate with workers in various locations, simultaneously, encouraging the ‘get together’ you would ordinarily only find in a large corporate building. As a result, it is increasingly clear that the traditional ‘create and push’ information approach no longer meets employees’ evolving needs.
So, what is a digital workplace? It can best be considered the natural evolution of the workplace. Comprised of your employees’ technological environment, the digital workspace encompasses all the technologies people use to get work done in today’s workplace – both those in operation and the ones yet to be implemented. It ranges from your HR applications and core business applications to e-mail, instant messaging and enterprise social media tools as well as virtual meeting tools.
Most organisations already use many of these components, which means they do not have to build the digital workplace from the ground up. In fact, if your staff respond to e-mails from smartphones, check their payments online or digitally enter a sales opportunity, you may be closer to operating a digital workplace than you think. As the workplace continues to evolve, and employee expectations shift, organisations that do not embrace the digital workplace, risk falling behind.
Two obstacles, however, seem to stand out. The first being the perception that it is an expensive exercise, which very often it is, as a result of a lack of know-how and the resources to have a fully functional digital workspace that includes the bells and whistles. The other being, creating the environment that encourages the culture of digital transformation in the business.
It is no secret that your organisation’s culture guides the way your employees behave and work. People and culture lie at the heart of organisational performance and typically drive both success and failure. This means your culture ultimately determines how and to what extent your employees leverage the digital workplace to connect, communicate and collaborate.
The digital workplace breaks down communication barriers, positioning you to transform the employee experience by fostering efficiency, innovation and growth. The key to providing the practical implementation of a digital workplace success, is largely based on the type of environment created. The most important question being: Is it one that is capable of driving true cultural change?
With domestic and international companies focusing their expansion strategies on cost efficiencies, attracting the right talent, optimisation of business operations and space utilisation, co-working and a solution to providing an efficient digital workspace platform is not only changing the dynamics of office spaces in South Africa, but it is also defining a new corporate culture.
Allowing people to use technology the way that they want to, engages them, but requires a business culture that puts people first. Some say technology is everything, but it’s nothing without people to operate it and bring it to life. Allowing the increasingly mobile workforce to define the requirements of an ideal digital workspace, then, makes perfect sense.
Every company has a digital workspace of some sort, and it will only grow in the years to come. Breaking down the barriers between people, workplaces and technologies and empowering the workforce to be productive and creative wherever they are, will give your business the competitive edge.
It is for this reason that Spaces – the creative office space specialists, recently launched in South Africa – has embraced the concept of a digital workspace that will not only provide businesses with cutting-edge tools needed for the digital age, but also provide the solution to office space that inspires the digital operators dominating that workforce at the moment. Working in isolation just won’t suit the digital nomads and their needs that change on a continual basis.
Whether your employees are based in the corporate office in Johannesburg, working remotely from Cape Town, or spending their days driving cross country, a digital workspace puts everyone in the same place and brings them together online. Employees can work together seamlessly, regardless of location and they feel connected even though they don’t see each other in the office.
This is a very welcome change for employees that travel or work remotely. It gives them a sense of empowerment, knowing they are trusted to get the job done even if they are not in the same office as the boss, instantly making them more productive. A great digital workspace can increase employee engagement and it is widely known that engaged employees can increase a company’s performance. With advances in technology, from fiber optic broadband to mobile communication apps, co-workers can stay in constant communication.
Encouraging the workforce to take charge of their enhanced productivity, again indicates the close link between empowerment and productivity. The flexibility and ability for employees to work from anywhere, sees them responding to customers outside of the normal business hours, especially visible in global companies dealing with different time zones, using but one example.
These changes are further exacerbated by the continued demands for increased productivity and cutting of unnecessary costs – making it hard for businesses to meet market expectations. These trends contribute to reshaping the work environment. Many say that it’s a long overdue transformation. Under a digital workplace approach, the new focus shifts to how the business can help their staff work more efficiently and how the hundreds of enterprise tools can fit together as one cohesive unit. Flexible co-working environments are slowly becoming the new ‘go to’ for office space solutions.