Digital Workplace Insights

How the Digital Workplace Will Change the Way We Work

With 90% of North Americans and more than 3.4 billion people in the world having access to the Internet, the digital workplace has changed. The development of increasingly sophisticated technologies will instill our workforce with more creative potential and offer challenges in knowledge management. So, what can you do to keep up with this wave of change and to promote a digitally competent work culture?

If you rewind the clock back 30 years, you will notice a world where the latest industry statistics weren’t available through a Google search. Instead, you would need a subscription to a research-based service — or if you were feeling lucky, visit the local library or chamber of commerce.

On top of research challenges, workforces were locked to land-based, physical locations. Depending on where you lived, the talent pool might not have the skills you are searching for. But today, we have access to vast resources of information and a workforce comprised of people all over the world.  

Whether you are developing your company’s Intranet to be a valuable resource in the information age or looking to manage talent from different time zones — you will have to understand the challenges of a digital workplace.

Challenges of a Digital Workplace

We are in a transition period of computer literacy.

With the recent advancement of portable cellular devices and communication technology — digital competence becomes a problem. With an older, experienced workforce lacking digital skills and a younger generation entering the workforce already with a suite of digital skills — the question becomes, “how do we manage the discrepancy in digital skills throughout the organization?”

The learning curve is the earning curve.

New technology and the constant change of the digital world has given new market share to groups of people willing to be on the edge of their fields. For example, fields like marketing, software implementation, and search engine optimization (SEO) are known for constantly changing. To gain access to these fields of expertise, you will have to either hire external talent or learn how to train internally on a year to year basis.

Management of Work Expectations.

With physical locations slowly becoming less important, the expectations of our workforce are changing. Workers are beginning to value flexibility and engaging work over bland stability. This calls for management to give compelling reasons and for executive leadership to imbue meaning into the company mission. Otherwise, companies are looking to face retention problems in the future.

Employees are facing challenges with digital work.

With more flexibility and freedom, workers are enjoying their work more and this is leading to longer hours at the office. But with the benefits of greater productivity and employee engagement, workers are finding themselves at odds with burnout. Often this is because strong boundaries aren’t set between the employee’s work and their personal life. According to a survey which reached out to over 600 HR leaders across the nation, 46% of them admitted that burnout was responsible for 20-50% of their annual workforce turnover.

Whether you are developing your company’s Intranet to be a valuable resource in the information age or looking to manage talent from different time zones — you will have to understand the challenges of a digital workplace.

7 Ways the Digital Workplace Will Change Business

Now that you understand the challenges ahead, here are 10 ways the Digital workplace will change forever:

1. Human Resources Becomes Digital

Technology is everywhere. People use GPS to track running distances. Cellular applications are applying sensor technology to monitor health. And soon, we are going to have glasses, contacts, and other wearable devices with augmented reality feeding us information about our surroundings and needs. Through this wave of technology, HR is on track for a new wave of innovation.

Here’s where it gets interesting. We are seeing a prevalence of analytical data experts making their way into HR. Soon, we are going to have the ability to gather data from organizations all over the world. As well, with the increasingly sophisticated use of Intranets within organizations, HR can start implementing strategies based on the data they gather company-wide, nationwide, and worldwide.

2. Corporate Learning Will Be Disrupted

As we said, the learning curve is the new earning curve. Depending on the industry, new company-wide skills will need to be developed to keep up with the digital age. Not only that, but the world of video learning, interactive tools, and learning platforms are everywhere. The annual growth rate of worldwide e-learning is 4.4% and is set to be worth $53 billion by 2018. Most corporations have already adopted e-learning into their training programs.

3. Experiments with Physical Locations

A great example of this comes from consulting house Ernst & Young. During the London Olympics, this consulting business gave their staff six weeks where they could “work from anywhere”. According to them, it was their job to provide strong system access and secure system access even if they were not coming into the office.  

What did they learn?

The world goes on and the business keeps running. More and more businesses are realizing that they can tap into talent all over the world. Also, the potential for reducing the cost on physical work space has become enticing.

4. AI Will Make its Mark

AI is increasingly making its way into consumer technologies. Soon, we will have to reinvent the idea of an “intelligent workplace”. How will AI affect productivity? How will AI identify time waste and how to redirect it? It is a bit early to guess how this will affect business, but the effects will be huge.

5. Intranets Are Becoming an Increasingly Important Resource

People have thought that the Intranet was “doomed to die” ever since the Internet became popular. But unlike the Internet, Intranets provide a convenient and powerful ecosystem for companies to build a powerful resource.

Within this ecosystem, they can:

  1. Give news about the latest events and meetings
  2. Create outstanding tasks and company-wide goals
  3. Promote discussion within the company
  4. Store important company documents
  5. Create a database of information using metadata and search

As time goes on and as software providers find ways to create more sophisticated systems, companies will eventually find ways to avoid meetings, automatically manage workflows, and much more.

6. How We Hire and Promote Will Change

A person’s brand, network, and publications are going to increase in value as time goes on. Instead of a resume, we are going to see a person’s public record of success and ideas.

Here’s why:

This wave of change isn’t going to stop. As innovation keeps out doing itself at every turn, companies will need disruptors and new talent to challenge convention and to find new ways to get work completed. In a world of change, it is those willing to keep up with it all that will succeed. For those who don’t adapt to the digital environment, expect challenges in the future when finding a new position.

7. Employee Productivity Will Be Enhanced

Outsourcing, outsourcing, outsourcing! We are going to find an increasing need to identify and rank tasks based on importance and the skills required. You don’t want to give your valuable employee who you pay $45 per hour a task which a $7 per hour VA can do.

It is time to use outsourcing to improve employee productivity. Also, this is a perfect opportunity to create a smaller workforce who has greater potential to create change.

On that note, an employee’s productivity will also increase by the tools and resources they are given. For example, instead of attending meetings, the resources and notes for that meeting can be posted via the company intranet to avoid that meeting altogether.

Conclusion

Instead of attending a meeting, you can log in to the company’s intranet to gain access to materials. Instead of working at the office, you can work at home or from a hotel in Beirut. Whatever the case, this change originated from a time when work was located in the countryside in villages and farms.

With industrialization, much of that work migrated to the cities and into the office. Now we are seeing a shift away from this physical office environment. It is an exciting time to see this change to the white-collar workforce, and we are ready to help companies face the challenges ahead! 

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