person wearing orange sneakers walking up blue stairs
PHOTO: Lindsay Henwood

Typical workers today are likely to have a dozen (or more) browser tabs open at any given moment. They’re toggling between multiple apps, some in the cloud and some installed on their computers. They’re constantly shifting contexts, unable to focus on meaningful, productive “deep work.” And their software often isn’t flexible enough to handle new business challenges and tasks.

For these and other reasons, software isn’t the solution. It’s part of the problem, because it’s actually preventing your team from being as productive as it could be.

Related article: “Why Your Team Isn’t More Productive — and What You Can Do About It   

A digital workplace platform can make the difference, combining process management workflows anyone can build as well as tools for case management, project management and collaboration. A digital workplace platform is designed to be extremely simple to use for citizen developers and business users. It requires no coding experience, enabling users to manage all the work that comes at them, regardless of what it is today and what it might be in the future.

As Gartner explains, a digital workplace solution “enables new, more effective ways of working; raises employee engagement and agility; and exploits consumer-oriented styles and technologies.”

If you’re considering a digital workplace environment at your organization, keep in mind the following eight steps to help ensure your deployment is a success.

1. Know and Prepare for Challenges

As with any new initiative, you may encounter some challenges in migrating to a digital workplace solution that include:

  • The need to choose wisely. Select your digital workplace solution carefully, as some platforms have inherent limitations such as limited functionality, poor connectivity, and scattered communication.

Related article: “Digital Workplace Platforms in 2019 — Where’s the Innovation?”

  • Funding. There may be resistance to funding another software solution, especially in organizations already awash in software and apps. However, a digital workplace can help your organization reduce costs by improving decision-making, lowering operational expenses and more. Also, with a digital workplace, you’ll save money by paying for only one monthly subscription to multiple tools vs. spending money on multiple subscriptions to individual tools.
  • Making a shift. Be aware that moving to a digital workplace is a type of digital transformation — and a fundamental shift in workflows can seem daunting. For example, some workers may resist migrating from the legacy tools they’ve used for years to new workflows enabled by a digital workforce platform, regardless of the productivity and other benefits the platform enables. In fact, some workers may continue to use their legacy tools even after the digital workplace solution has been deployed, which can create extra costs and other challenges.
  • Training. The ideal digital workplace platform is easy-to-use and requires no coding experience. But like any transformative solution, workers may need training to get up to speed as well as to take the kind of fresh approach to their workflows that a digital workplace solution enables.

2. Determine Goals

Start by meeting with managers and teams to determine goals. What are you hoping to achieve with a digital workplace platform? How does that align with overall business objectives? What are the problems you’re trying to solve? Why and how is the current software environment not helping you solve those problems?

During this initial phase, talk to users in every department to get a better sense of their specific workflows, challenges, and needs. This will build a broader understanding of how the digital workplace platform can help individuals as well as teams.

3. Visualize and Measure Success

Based on the goals you’ve identified, determine what a successful digital workplace deployment looks like and the metrics to measure success in terms of productivity, employee experience, cost reductions and such. Use the platform’s analytics to obtain actionable insights that improve workflows.

4. Get Buy-in Across Departments

The success of any digital transformation depends upon end users being on board. To achieve this, you’ll need to invest time, effort and money in educating users about the digital workplace concept and its benefits. You’ll also want to develop advocates wherever possible and invite them to participate in the project.    

5. Understand that Workers Differ and Be Flexible to Their Needs

No two people are alike in how they interact with software and approach workflows. In fact, Gartner identified five types of workers — caretakers, engineers, mavericks, navigators and pilots, taking into account individual habits, attitudes and work styles. Understanding the diversity of your workforce and being flexible to each person’s needs can help you properly set digital workplace expectations and quickly put employees on a path to success.  

6. Add a Sense of Urgency

A digital workplace is designed to help organizations address ongoing workflow challenges. Focusing on the most urgent, persistent challenges up front can help bring a rush of energy to the deployment.

7. Continue to Communicate

Communication is key to the success of a digital workplace transition. Clearly communicate the vision for the digital workplace before deploying it. Share quick, highly visible successes on an ongoing basis after roll out. Invite your advocates to share their ‘wins’ as well.

8. Refine as You Go

Deploying a digital workplace solution isn’t a one-and-done situation. A flexible platform enables you to continually refine workflows with new tools and features added. Encourage users to offer feedback well past the adoption phase. Listen carefully to the feedback, improving and iterating workflows as needed.

One Platform vs. Many Tools

Yes, there will be challenges in adopting a digital workplace solution — but the benefits far outweigh them. You’ll have one platform instead of myriad, sometimes siloed tools for optimizing, managing, and tracking all the work being performed across all departments in your organization.

Gartner summed up the benefits nicely: “The end result of a successful digital workplace is greater customer-centricity, more employee-led innovation, accelerated process outcomes, higher employee retention and greater appeal to prospective employees.”