standing on a subway platform
A confluence of forces are creating rifts in the workplace PHOTO: Redd Angelo

A confluence of workplace trends are creating deeply fragmented workplaces. 

Growing workforce mobility, a widening generation gap, the increasing use of personal devices and applications and an intensifying talent war are creating divisions not only between employees, but between leadership and employees. 

When workers feel disconnected, they consistently underperform. Gallup found that companies with highly engaged workers outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share. Getting people, processes and information connected is essential for an engaged and productive workforce, and a digital workplace solution can help.

But before you can look at a solution, you need to understand the forces causing this fundamental shift in the nature of work.

4 Drivers Changing the Workplace

The mobile workforce

Employees are working across geographies and time zones, a trend supported by mobile devices and policies that support flexible hours. 

According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, approximately one-quarter of the global workforce teleworks with some frequency, and employees are not at their desks 50 to 60 percent of the time. With increasingly distributed workforces, organizations must find a way to cultivate the kind of healthy company culture that would exist if everyone worked within the same four walls.

The generation gap

Most of today’s workforce is made up of two generations — Generation X and Millennials — who tend to differ in their values, ways of processing information and levels of digital fluency. These differences can cause friction and intensify the lack of workforce integration, highlighting the need for digital workplace solutions that drive productivity — no matter what attitudes and abilities are at play.

Bring your own app (BYOA)

More and more employees are using their personal productivity applications to communicate and collaborate at work. Why not? These apps are fast, familiar and don’t require any IT involvement. 

However, accommodating every employee’s app of choice can hinder communication and knowledge-sharing practices in your organization, not to mention the security risks. Unifying this patchwork is essential for optimal productivity and collaboration.

The talent war

Competition for top talent is fierce. People no longer stay at companies for life, and when they enter a new job, they bring with them high expectations for the workplace culture. The days of top-down management are over. 

The organizations that are winning the talent war have committed significant resources to attracting, developing and retaining the best people, with 59 percent of companies investing more in their employer brand compared to last year.

Where do you direct your resources if you want to attract and keep talented people? You invest in them, in creating a positive, engaging work experience that fosters a sense of belonging while supporting innovation and productivity. Just as organizations build world-class websites for their customers, they’ve realized the need to create virtual spaces for engaging their employees — no matter their location, age or preferred technologies.

Building Blocks of a Great Digital Workplace Solution

While only part of the solution, strong digital workplace technology can go far in improving employee engagement, supporting multiple work styles while keeping the organization's information in order and compliant. Here are some key building blocks to look for:

1. An Onboarding Center

An onboarding center can accelerate time to productivity and encourage early buy-in among new hires. From a welcome space to on-the-job training and FAQ forums, this solution can be a lifesaver for fast-growing companies. 

In high tech, for example, where turnover is high and competition is intense, an onboarding center can get new employees up to speed in a fraction of the time of more traditional orientation processes.

2. A Newsroom

A digital newsroom curates all the key information employees need to stay in the know and feel connected to the organization. From company news and industry updates to social media feeds and blogs, the newsroom can keep people informed and aligned. 

3. A Social Zone

You can unite employees across departments, geographies and areas of expertise with a digital focal point for company events, clubs and activities. By creating a dedicated space for the social life of your organization, you can give people a personal — not just professional — sense of belonging. 

With a community calendar, forums, polls, photo walls, microblogs and more, a social zone helps build a culture that transcends workplace divisions.

4. A Leadership Corner

By bringing together leadership bios, blogs, social media activity and media appearances in one place, people can easily stay plugged in to the overarching vision of the organization. Putting a human face on the leadership team builds employee loyalty and trust, which boosts engagement. A leadership corner also offers channels for direct interaction with the people at the top.

5. A virtual town hall

A digital home for town halls centralizes all the information around these pivotal events, connecting organizers, employees and the leadership team. It provides a forum for information-sharing and a ready-made venue for engaging employees. A virtual town hall makes it easy to organize events, make announcements, gather employee feedback and surface critical content that comes out of events.

An effective digital workplace also allows organizations to:

  • Create a brand portal with all the resources employees need to stay on brand
  • Offer a self-service IT help desk to avoid employee frustration and ease the burden on IT
  • Provide a centralized company directory to allow for easy navigation of the organizational structure

You’re the expert on your organization’s business challenges, but building a cohesive digital workplace requires a whole other skill set. Working with an outside expert can help you find the solution to deliver efficiency and employee satisfaction. With a partner and a platform you can trust, you’ll build a digital workplace that connects your entire organization — across all borders and boundaries.