expressed opinion entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
The digital workplace first emerged in the late 2000s when pioneering thought leaders advanced the idea that it is not Where you work but how You work.As analytics firms like it, the phrase has taken on new forms and meanings Deloitte and Gartner See where the wind is blowing and start defining and formalizing it. But most workers — and their companies — didn’t pay much attention to the idea of a non-traditional workplace until they were forced to work from home, many for the first time ever.
In short, today’s digital workplace is a place where work gets done—collaborating, communicating, and sharing content with everyone you work with—all in one place and in the digital realm. It’s the virtual equivalent of the traditional workplace, which is part of what differentiates it from simply working remotely with a host of digital tools. This distinction is important because it provides structure to what still feels vague, even for companies working fully or partially remotely.
Related: How companies are rethinking the workplace to boost productivity
Why too many digital workplace tools don’t work
As companies scramble to quickly transition their teams to remote work, many have built their idea is their own version of the digital workplace — but it’s not at all. Instead of creating a single workplace for people, companies cobble together a bunch of different tools, introducing a labyrinth of channels that engage people in various parts of their work.
Teams are less productive due to too many workplace tools.Employees spend time switching from one app to the next to figure out where conversations are taking place, where content is stored, what others are doing, and where they can find the data they need to make decisions—while no Actually Do the work of moving the needle.
The digital workplace in today’s remote, in-person and hybrid workplaces should improve company performance and efficiency, not hinder it. Here are five characteristics a digital workplace should have to differentiate working remotely and drive successful and productive teams:
1. Make data accessible to drive teams to work smarter
The company has too much data, but most team members have no idea what data the company has or where. Even if they do know what data they want and where it is, they may not be able to access it without the help of their internal IT team.
Data in the digital workplace should not only be easily accessible and organized for use by teams, but also easy to understand by everyday business users. Data can drive informed and responsible decision-making only when teams know what the data means. Teams need to be able to quickly interpret and act on their data without jumping ship or waiting for someone to do it for them.
When the team has a comprehensive view of key business insights, it removes the idea that the most senior or loudest person in the room is the right one. Instead, smarter decisions can be made — driven by data.
Related: Opening Your Digital Doors: Communication and Remote Work
2. Drive alignment of goals and objectives
When teams work within their own departments, company goals and objectives can get lost and replaced by what the team thinks they should be focusing on. If everyone is not aligned with the company’s ultimate goals, the company will never achieve its goals. It’s also important for individuals to feel that they are making an impact – they only feel that impact when they are aligned with what the company is working towards.
A big part of that is communication at every level. Individual employees need to communicate with each other, teams need to communicate with other teams, and leaders need to communicate with employees. It all starts with leaders, who should consistently reinforce company goals and objectives to keep employees on track.
Whether through quick chats or team discussions, there should be ongoing communication about the company’s goals and objectives in the digital workplace so that teams can align themselves appropriately. This will help teams properly prioritize and ensure that the bottom line is supported where they spend the most time.
3. Increase transparency across the organization
Teams today work from home and offices in different time zones and countries. While teams may actually be in different places, that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) mean that their work must also be spread out.
Teams should keep abreast of what individual team members are working on. Digital workplaces provide this transparency by providing a place where teams can see what projects individuals are working on, where they are, and the team members they rely on from start to finish. This way, team leaders can identify any factors holding back a project before it becomes a risk, or avoid overloading team members who already have a lot going on.
Greater transparency also increases productivity across the organization, as less time is spent asking “what are you doing?” Or “What’s the status of this project?” Team members can see for themselves and quickly answer their questions without having to spend time in meetings or Zoom calls.
Related: How to give your employees a sense of tribe in a remote world
4. Make meaningful connections
While the digital workplace is a place to get work done, it’s also a place to connect and collaborate in meaningful ways. This is especially important when team members are using a mix of remote, in-person and hybrid methods within a single organization—all with different timelines.
The best workspaces allow employees to have fun and use some humor. This can be achieved through emojis or even GIFs. Creating a space where employees can enjoy and relax will also reduce burnout.
While a fun atmosphere can help people connect, a digital workplace can also allow teams to connect more personally. Team members can check in with each other and provide positive feedback and motivation. When team members are very accessible to each other, they are more likely to connect outside of work and collaborate in more meaningful ways.
5. Integrate multiple tools into one space
When companies use different tools for everything they do, from communication and project management to file storage and analysis, teams end up spending too much time jumping from one application to another to find what they need and finish their work.
When teams have everything they need in one place, the digital workplace, they spend less time finding where to have conversations or where to store data, and spend that time on tasks that drive business forward .
The workplace has changed a lot over the past few years, and while it’s never going to be exactly the same, that doesn’t mean it can’t drive the same amount or more of productivity. A digital workplace can increase the productivity and efficiency of teams and have a major impact on the bottom line. But for that to happen, it has to be a true digital workplace—a unique place where teams meet and get work done.