The internet has changed the way we work. It has bestowed on us many advantages. It has spurred globalization, businesses are better connected, communications flow more easily, knowledge sharing is possible; and yet some companies are still struggling with barriers to information which results in disengaged, unenthusiastic employees and low productivity.
A Digital Workplace on Office 365 is an ideal solution which can help businesses connect all their disparate applications and resources that employees need to do their job. It allows staff to work more transparently and unifies online and offline communication, and since it is driven by search and discovery it makes finding the right information at the right time, easy.
Work has changed
And so must the workplace
Work is not defined as a place you go to, rather it is what you do and it is independent of where, what time or how you accomplish it. Said another way, work is not something that is accomplished from an office, during a specific eight hour period, using a device provided by your company.
This change in work culture comes with a few challenges, which your digital workplace should address:
Demographics shift: the workforce is multi-generational with different work styles, ethics and levels of technological awareness and prowess. It is difficult for a business owner to satisfy the different needs of this diverse staff.
Technology preferences: most workplaces follow the BYOD (bring your own device) policy. Employees not only use their own devices, but also use collaboration tools and apps of their preference. This may serve well when working individually, but when working as a team, all the different applications will create chaos. And then there are also the implications of security involved.
Information overload: information these days is not only documents – it is images, videos, meeting recordings, graphs, charts, etc. Information is continuously growing at exponential rates and users have a hard time finding what they need.
Mobile Workforce: Today’s workforce is becoming more scattered and distributed. According to research conducted by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com approximately 3.7 million U.S. employees work from home at least half the time, and employees are not at their desk 50-60% of the time.
The ability for workers to work remotely, have flexible hours, use a device of their choice allows them to work across time zones. This poses a challenge for companies to keep everybody connected and on the same page despite the distances.
Management Style: Gone are the days when people worked with a company for loyalty’s sake. As more and more millennials enter the workforce, there is a shift in the outlook of what they expect from their employment experience.
These young employees are no doubt energetic, innovative and motivated but they come with high expectations from themselves and their employers, prefer to work in teams, like to be challenged, and give utmost importance to work life balance.
Keeping this in mind, companies need to change their management style, create more team-based jobs, and keep communications open to provide a more conducive environment for employee retention.
Bring it all together
With a ready-to-go Intranet on Office 365
It is possible that your company is dealing with various productivity tools that you gathered over the years, to solve the mobility issue. For example, Google for email, Dropbox for file storing, and Go to Meeting for video conferencing and screen sharing. You may have also invested in line-of-business applications like business intelligence (BI), customer relationship management (CRM), and enterprise resource planning (ERP).
No doubt all these solutions collectively help iron out your business processes and give your staff the tools to do their job better, they can cause chaos and eventually become overwhelming. With every new addition to your tool kit, your users will need to learn new functionality and possibly update their skill set. This could get frustrating to the point that users will abandon the new solutions and you will not reap the benefits of your investment.
The easy solution to this dilemma is a turnkey solution on Office 365, which gives users all the tools they need in a familiar setting with a uniform look and consistency in functionality.
Build a compelling Digital Workplace
A digital workplace should be people-centric. Users must perceive it as a solution to their problems, rather than an additional task that they have to spend their time on. Apart from being attractive, it should also be user-friendly, making it easy to access resources they need as an employee. It should be the first thing they want to check when they start their work day.
Make it comfortable
Look for a solution that will be easy for all your employees to use, no matter what their technological prowess. The interface should have a clean, fresh look and should be designed in such a way that a user can get up and running with its functionality with the least amount of training. The labels and titles on the page should be clear and self-explanatory, and users should have access to an FAQ and quick training videos to refer to, if needed.
These days you seldom see people sitting idle. As soon as they have a few minutes to spare (in the elevator or cab, or waiting at the doctor’s office), they are on their devices; either updating their social media status, making their move in a game, or communicating via instant messaging.
So, imagine what they would do if they had mobile access to your intranet – work!
With a ready-to-go intranet on Office 365 your users have instant mobile access to all their work. They can send email, attend a meeting, fill out forms, update their tasks, and read the latest corporate news from anywhere, at any time and using any device.
Mirror your physical workplace
The workforce is slowly becoming more scattered across various physical locations and employees need a central place where they can do work and connect with other team mates and colleagues. The digital workplace is the platform that provides this connectivity.
Making sure your employees feel part of the team and corporation even when working remotely, is of utmost importance. Your intranet offering must give your staff the same experiences they would have if they were working in the office.
For example, users should be able to locate experts and ask questions, have discussions, solve problems, collectively author documents and have video conferences. They should also be able to chime in on office chatter and share stories.
Give them the tools they need
Your users are consumers of technology. They are used to having what they need in terms of information, and applications that improve efficiency and reduce the time and effort. If you don’t provide them with the tools that make work-life easier, they will go find something that suits their needs, disregarding corporate policies and the need for security.
With a digital workplace on Office 365 you can provide your staff with all the productivity tools that they need; email, instant messaging, voice and video conferencing, task management, document sharing and online forms routing. You will also have the capability to integrate with other systems and applications that your employees prefer, giving you control over security protocols to keep your corporate data secure.
Build for sustainability
Find a platform or product that can evolve and scale with your needs. You are spending your time and resources to build this compelling solution that will improve employee engagement and help the company’s bottom-line; so make sure it will grow alongside your business. You do not want to repeat the same exercise again, in two years.
An Office 365 subscription gives you all the latest and greatest tools, and updates are free and automatic. You never have to worry about your intranet solution being outdated and you can scale up (or down) by getting additional licenses at any time.
Satisfy your staff while also benefiting the company
When you offer employees a cloud based, robust digital workplace solution which puts information on the tip of their fingers, gives them flexibility of time and work location, makes communication and collaboration a breeze and takes away unwanted distractions so that work can be accomplished, it is advantageous to the business.
- You will not only attract the right employees but also be able to retain them.
- The company can tap into the collective intelligence of their workforce by making sharing and communicating ideas easy.
- Employees will feel valued and their productivity and satisfaction will increase.
The digital workplace is not just about the technology you put in place, it is about ways of interacting and working together. Needless to say, people who are not open to change will have a difficult time adjusting to this new and evolved workplace. In such a situation it becomes imperative that senior managers of the company use and promote the use of the solution.
It is also important to remember that Office 365 comes with a lot of tools, some of which have overlapping functionality. It is important to provide clarity to the users as to what application should be used, when, and for what purpose. Not doing this can cause confusion and frustration, which will affect user adoption.
As the workplace changes and the workforce evolves to being more digital and less physical, technology needs to step in to create an environment that will bring all your users, skills and knowledge to one central location so that they can accomplish more and drive your business to new heights.