The art
and practice of
digital workplace

Author: Mike Elgan

In the past, some viewed the digital workplace as a kind of inevitability—something that will emerge organically as business tools and processes improve with the advance of new technology. But the pandemic changed everything. It prompted a swift move to cloud-based tools and a sharp rise in remote work.

The overwhelming majority of companies around the world believe that in the future, remote working will increase (78%) and that the digital workplace and the physical workplace will coexist (86%), according to a 2020 report from Harvard Business Review. Rather than allowing gradual trends to shape the digital workplace, many organizations are keen on accelerating the process to get in front of the changes happening to business and the culture. Success in these efforts will require deliberate digital workplace governance.

By driving a digital workplace culture, organizations can improve communication, connection and collaboration—leveraging the power of unified action across the organization. This can remove the barriers of time and place, enabling teams to work in physically distant locations, while mobile and in all time zones while staying coordinated and connected. It also boosts business agility, which is increasingly necessary in today's fast-moving, fast-changing and unpredictable world.

But the digital workplace needs more than the right tools. The other vital part? A digital workplace framework and workplace governance.

What is digital workplace governance?

Digital workplace governance is the sum total of policies, strategies, rules, standards, processes, roles and structures that enable a digital workplace to run. It's an overarching framework that aligns digital tools with business objectives, values and regulations.

Well-executed digital workplace governance is necessary in our increasingly competitive, constantly changing world. To survive and thrive, organizations need frameworks that will align their tools to the objectives of the organization. For example, the pandemic forced a sudden shift to remote and hybrid work. Many organizations saw that transition result in a rash of new problems, including employee morale problems, poor productivity, communication problems and unprecedented cyber security exposure.

In other words, companies had the time to deploy tools (such as video calling solutions and cloud applications) but lacked the opportunity to support them with good digital workplace governance. The problems that arose after the sudden rush to remote work illustrate the risks of digital workplace tools without a good digital workplace governance system in place.

The full benefits of the digital workplace can be realized with good digital workplace governance combined with:

  • Investment in leading-edge, compatible tools around communication and collaboration
  • Digital recruitment and payroll systems
  • CRM and CMS tools
  • Cloud storage
  • Project management and accounting software

The key to success is embracing future-proof, integrated systems that work together and are compatible with the work styles of your employees.

Steps C-level leadership can take to a digital workplace framework

A cohesive digital workplace governance strategy requires cohesive leadership. And leadership starts with vision—a vision that aligns digital transformation tools with business goals and fosters a culture of change within the organization. Start by building a road map for unified digital workplace projects across the entire organization.

Establish metrics and timelines for a full digital workplace framework initiative and drive change—to the culture, available skill sets, business structures and employee incentives.

Prepare for the challenges that may come with this transformation. A strong digital work strategy can enable employees working remotely to be satisfied and productive in their jobs. While driving your organization toward full realization of the digital workplace opportunity, keep in mind the keys to success:

  • Make sure you collaborate with the major stakeholders in setting up a digital workplace governance structure.
  • Establish a thorough, clearly defined digital workplace framework—the policies, strategies, rules, standards, processes, roles and structures that will let your initiatives succeed.
  • Change and adaptability drive the digital workplace, so develop and execute a change-management strategy as well.
  • Put a communication professional in charge of communicating change.
  • Get leadership involved, and keep them informed.

Explore how the future of work will strengthen the connections between your employees and your customers.