Wednesday, January 2, 2019

4 Signs it's Time to Improve Your Digital Workplace

Jeremy Williams, Sr. Director, Modern Workplace
Culture / Technology / Strategy

Nothing lasts forever, including your company’s digital workplace. In order to provide your employees with the most efficient digital tools for workplace productivity, it is important to look out for the signs that your workplace (or intranet) needs modernization. By monitoring your current systems and processes, while paying attention to the habits of your employees, you will remain informed and can gather a clear understanding of how to improve your organization’s digital workplace.

Worried that your current system isn’t meeting the needs of your modern-day employees? Here are the top four signs indicating your company’s digital workplace needs some maintenance:

1. Your System is Broken

The first sign is simple – if it’s already broken. Broken can mean many things, and in the fast-paced workforce, it’s a sign that often gets glazed over. The first, and most obvious, way to know your digital workplace is broken is if your employees don’t know it exists in the first place. If employees are opting out of the digital workplace or using legacy means of communication simply because they are unaware of the more advanced tools offered to them, it is time to modify your digital workplace and how you present it to your employees.

You should also look for key technological signs that your workplace is broken. An example is a dysfunctional search feature. When employees can’t use search in an effective manner, they can’t find content quickly and their productivity is hindered. The biggest red flag that a search feature is broken is when employees are unable to find the right content. For example, if an employee is basing this year’s benefit guide off of a document that was created two years ago, it’s time to re-evaluate your digital workplace’s search function. In an effective workplace, employees should have access to the most relevant content within seconds.

2. All Communication Occurs Via Email

We’re all human, and everyone will communicate in the way that is most comfortable to them. However, if all office communication is occurring through emails or live meetings, it’s a good indication that a more efficient digital system is needed. This does not mean that email use and in-person meetings should cease, but if email is the only form of communication, there is a good chance that your employees are inundated with email, which thereby lessens the effectiveness of email as a primary tool.

To determine whether or not this is taking place in your office, think of an upcoming project your team is preparing for. When collaborating, is the primary way your team communicates through email? In today’s modern workplace, employees need instant access to information and communication, and email commonly isn’t the most efficient way to provide that. As a simple example, the difference between emailing files and having a shared repository where all team members can access and collaborate on project documents can be huge. To play it out a bit, when a team member has to wait on other members to send the most updated version of a presentation it can result in an increased project creation time, delays, and confusion on versioning. While trading attachments back and forth may have been the norm in the past, there are now a number of omnichannel platforms available that allow multiple employees to access a project at once to streamline communication - not only are people getting more done in less time, but they’re probably happier about it too!

3. You Don’t Have a Team Dedicated Specifically to Your Digital Workplace

There is a major difference between owning the platform and maintaining it, making it necessary that your company assigns a team to oversee your company’s digital workplace. Even if your IT group created the platform, your business should also have a role in the initial and ongoing implementation. Think of your digital workplace as a product. Not everyone has been exposed to one before, and each employee and generation of workers has a unique skill set. Your organization must develop a cross-functional team that understands your digital workplace. This team will help assist co-workers, deliver information throughout the company and build a united collaborative workforce. Developing this team allows seamless platform integration and creates a group of individuals that can track the success of the digital workplace – which is just as important as its integration.

4. It’s Been 18 Months Since You’ve Evaluated Your Digital Workplace

More often than not, a digital workplace strategy starts out as the company’s next big project, only to fall to the wayside when an even bigger project comes along. This causes it to go ignored until it’s too late to fix due to issues that have risen over time. The typical major-refresh cycle for a digital workplace is three to seven years, however; this assumes preventative maintenance and continuous evaluation is happening every year and a half. If your company wants to create and maintain a successful digital workplace, it requires a small amount of effort over a more continuous period of time in order to ensure the platform has been integrated successfully. Through continuous updates to the platform, employees will see your effort and understand the importance of the workplace. By evaluating early on, any errors will also be solved at the root of their problem before too much time has passed and the digital workplace has to be re-created completely. This also has a side-benefit that, if you’re running this as a program, you can escape the ‘major refresh cycles’, as you will have made the jump from project-based major upgrades, to an evergreen service – where smaller updates are made constantly.

If Not for You, for Your Employees

Your employees deserve tools that evolve just as quickly as the modern workforce – and an updated digital workplace offers just that. A digital workplace will create a simpler and more productive working environment for both the centralized and decentralized employee, offering more efficient communication and collaboration methods. By paying close attention to the warning signs that your workplace isn’t at its prime, your company can make necessary updates early on to ensure its always providing employees with the tools that allow them to collaborate efficiently within the modern workforce. Interested in taking the next step to launching a world-class digital workplace for your modern workplace?

Learn more about Spark Workplace, a Rightpoint accelerator build in SharePoint Modern with full Office 365 integration.