man working remotely on a laptop
A digital workplace needs to adjust with the times, ensuring that whatever changes happen, it supports employees getting work done PHOTO: Shane Rounce on unsplash

Running a successful digital workplace requires much more than deploying a few good tools and calling it a day. 

Rather, companies need to develop a thoughtful, evolving strategy for empowering employees to communicate and collaborate as effectively as possible. A digital workplace strategy should advance as industries, companies and employees change the way they work.

That’s why some of the most important questions business leaders can ask are, “what do we, as a company, need to do to become a highly engaged and productive workplace?” and, “what will it take to become a more unified and collaborative organization?”

Digital transformation is key to answering both of these questions. Whether you work in retail, healthcare or even government, you’ve likely seen some aspect of digital transformation materialize in your organization’s priority list. According to the IDC, two-thirds of Global 2000 CEOs say that, by the end of 2017, digital transformation will be at the center of their corporate strategy. The companies that will thrive five or 10 years from now will be those that take digital transformation seriously today.

When it comes to how employees experience all of the new tools and technologies that come with digital transformation, an interactive intranet can play a central role. People want one place to access their company’s information, people and applications. Below are three ways your intranet can serve as this gateway to accelerate digital transformation.

1. Communication

It’s harder than ever for businesses to reach and align an increasingly dispersed, diverse workforce. Today’s companies must adjust how they communicate with employees and how they help them communicate with each other. One way to do this is to reach and engage your entire workforce with more targeted, personalized corporate and executive communications.

Consider how a global company typically rolls out a new training program. Most human resources (HR) departments send an email alerting employees about the change. While email systems can track basic open rates, they don’t provide important analytics such as the full impact of that message and the sentiment of its readers. Without knowing who read the email, what department they come from or whether they helped spread the message, you don’t have visibility into who’s up-to-speed or who you might want to target for continued follow up. Email lacks a forum where employees can post questions or comments, which means HR is consistently fielding one-off questions and repeating information, and there’s little two-way dialog with the executive team, which hampers alignment.

An interactive intranet streamlines this type of communication. HR can post a blog about the new program, and employees can respond with questions or comments in real-time. This cuts down on inbox clutter and provides HR with valuable insights. New analytics can also help you measure the reach and influence of employee communications to see how quickly messages move throughout the organization, and how well they engage your top network influencers. Rather than posting content and hoping it gets read, HR can review data and act on the findings to ensure all employees and teams are aware of important changes and conversations.

2. Collaboration 

McKinsey and IDC have determined that enterprise collaboration can improve productivity by an average of 30 percent by making it faster and easier to not only find the right people and information, but also rapidly share that information to aid decision-making. However, while companies and employees understand the importance of collaboration, the tools that support this function have fragmented to a point where many employees find them distracting or overwhelming. Solutions don’t always work together, making processes and communication between teams confusing. This patchwork of disparate apps and systems hinders collaboration rather than enhances it, which is why integrated solutions are key.

To have a unified workforce, businesses need solutions that connect people, information and systems into a single workplace that simplifies the IT landscape, enables collaboration at any scale and fuels employee productivity. Employees need frictionless collaboration at every level, which can only be accomplished by connecting formerly siloed apps and systems. If you can implement these best practices, you’ll have an interactive intranet that sits at the center of your digital workplace.

3. People and Knowledge Discovery

McKinsey estimates knowledge workers spend 20 percent of their work week looking for internal information or a colleague who can help with a specific task. Another 28 percent of their time is wasted dealing with emails. 

What’s worse, these employees aren’t just squandering time trying to find information or connect with a colleague, they’re also wasting money — $900 billion to $1.3 trillion annually. Add the fact that the modern workplace is becoming increasingly dispersed and remote, and you can see why having the right technology is paramount for knowledge discovery and preservation.

Here again, one digital workplace tool in particular can help. By serving as a single gateway to your organization’s most valuable assets — its knowledge and people — an intranet allows information to flow freely across teams and departments. This is important as organizations become more global, employees work remotely, part-time or on-contract more frequently, and work increasingly takes place online. As such, it’s more difficult than ever for employees to find the right experts at their company. An interactive intranet solves this problem by capturing work signals that indicate who knows what and who knows who, so employees can easily find experts and knowledge throughout the company. It also unifies your workforce and enables employees to connect with colleagues quickly and easily.

In order to communicate, collaborate and discover expertise effectively, the interactive intranet must seamlessly connect with all of the other systems and platforms in your digital workplace: from productivity and file-sharing applications, to transaction systems, to team-based communication or collaboration apps. When information and expertise siloes are dismantled, corporate knowledge is preserved.

The digital workplace is only effective at supporting a true digital transformation if it empowers employees to communicate and collaborate more efficiently, and enables them to find the right experts or content they need, so they can get work done, rather than sifting through emails or files. When this happens, companies can better engage and align their dispersed and diverse workforce, which ultimately leads to better profitability.