In my last four posts on the digital workplace I have covered ‘Must have digital workplace principles’, ‘5 steps to a great digital workplace strategy’, 7 ways to engage people in a digital workplace and lastly ‘Create a brilliant digital workplace with me’.
To have a successful digital workplace (my definition is ‘work is what you do, not where you go to’) organisations must have the right strategy, culture, environment and infrastructure to exploit the benefits fully. It becomes the natural way of working so everyone is more productive and your organisation more efficient with:
- people work from any location as well as their office workstation
- IT infrastructure for the same or similar experience
- everyone can read news, collaborate, search and complete tasks
- individuals choosing tools – RSS, mobile, etc. – that help them
- organisations measure benefits and encourages digital workplace
Follow these ‘must have’ principles including strategy, engagement, governance, HR policies and IT infrastructure and you will have a great digital workplace.
It is important the whole of the digital workplace is managed so that it brings benefits to the organisation, individuals and collectively, everyone. It should mean the feeling that ‘things are better’ permeates through to everyone and encourages even greater use of the digital workplace.
It means the level of governance balances the rewards to be gained while avoiding any risks. That doesn’t come naturally but through good governance of the digital workplace including:
Who is responsible for developing the strategy, implementing the digital workplace and ongoing management of it? It is difficult for one person to have overall responsibility for so many key roles and activities. Neither is it best for it to be one person.
The best solution is to have a steering group made up of stakeholders from key parts of the business most affected by the digital workplace. These stakeholders should be senior people with decision making authority not someone who has to refer back to his/her line manager and delay matters.
There may be dedicated roles for people responsible for collaboration, ways of working, etc, but they should ultimately report in to the steering group.
The worse solution is to have competing groups of people each implementing conflicting standards, designs and ways to use the digital workplace. That will be a disaster and must be avoided!
You really need a consistent level of governance across your digital workplace. By consistent I don’t mean the same. I mean it is what everyone using the digital workplace would expect or need.
For publishers/site owners who are publishing in the digital workplace accredited types of content (policies, factual stuff) the expectation is for a more rigorous approach than for collaborative content where opinions and views require a lighter touch.
For people using the digital workplace to view information and news, use workflow applications or collaborate with each other, they expect the look and feel of the digital workplace to be similar. Tools needs to be branded in line with the business’ colours and designs. Features need to encourages everyone to use them more such as help links, contact points, easily laid out and functional designs.
All the different parts of the digital workplace need to be integrated so they are seen as one whole entity not a different set of silos, resources with some electronic sticking plaster added to make them look as if they are connected when they don’t give that impression to anyone using them.
One approach is to have a set of standards based on the needs of the organisation (information retention), regulation (who has permission to see what), legal (web accessibility) and technical (DNS policy). These can be applied appropriately across the digital workplace for each activity. So for formal type content (policies and procedures) it’s most likely all the standards will apply. For applications (HR processes) it’s probable that most will apply too. But for collaboration you will apply a lighter touch.
Alternatively you can create standards that only apply to certain information and applications to meet the purpose people need to use it for.
It is about getting the balance right again. You don’t need to be too restrictive and stifle innovation and collaboration. But you don’t want it to be too loose so that the business and individuals risk non-compliance with a legal or regulatory requirements. It’s not easy but getting it right is critical and benefits everyone and the business.
This is the real litmus test, the crunch point for me. Do people have confidence in the information and tools they are using in the digital workplace? Does everyone feel encouraged to use the digital workplace more after each time?
The answer has to be ‘YES!’ to these questions. That is the outcome your strategy and plans should aim for.
However you do this it must balance the needs of the business with those of people working well in a digital workplace.
My next post will cover the HR policies which enable digital working.