Quick guide: how to embrace a digital workplace

Date: 19 September 2017 Author: David Webb

Your workplace is changing. It’s not enough to give your staff a traditional office with a desk and a computer to do their work. The digital age demands a new approach and that's where a unified communications strategy comes in.

But why should you make any changes? Because if you embrace a digital workplace then you will not just make substantial cost and time savings for your business and your staff - you’ll also attract and retain the best talent.

Your staff also get the right tools to be more productive and innovate. Extending your connectivity means your staff can communicate and collaborate in new and effective ways - and your customer service gets a boost too.

Why is a digital workplace important?

Let’s look at some stats to put things into context. One-third business leaders expect more than half of their organisation’s full-time workforce to work remotely by 2020, according to a survey from the Global Leadership Summit in London.

If they could work away from the office, almost two-thirds (64%) of employees would choose a lower paying job and those organisations with strong online social networks are 7% more productive compared to organisations without. Those organisations with internal social media tools also boast a 20% increase in employee satisfaction and a whopping 78% increase in employee retention, according to Deloitte.

It also makes better business sense to give your staff a wide choice of communication tools as employees are working remotely more often. The number of staff working remotely for four or five days per week rose from 24% to 31% between 2012 and 2016 and, according to PGi’s global survey data, more than half of part-time telecommuters said they want to increase their remote hours. And 60% of remote workers in the PGi survey said that, if they could, they would leave their current job for a full-time remote position at the same pay rate.

The figures add up. And so do the business benefits. A digital workplace allows you to provide the resources to the right people in the most effective way from both a cost and time-saving perspective.

What options are there?

There are many different ways to embrace a digital workplace. It depends on the nature of your business and the expectations of your staff. Here are four options you can consider:

1. Videos

Increased internet usage and network speeds have opened the way for video-based communications in the corporate environment with 54% of employees regularly participating in video conferencing. It’s a versatile technology and, as such, there are many ways you could use video communication to help your workforce stay engaged, productive and efficient.

For example, you could use commercial or educational videos to promote your organisation. Animated or live action explainer videos could be used to demonstrate an abstract or concept, tell a customer story or you could create a company story video to build brand loyalty.

Other ways video can be utilised within a corporate environment includes:

  • Training and development
  • Product and services development
  • Internal communications with employees
  • Meetings with supervisors and/or remote workers
  • Sales calls
  • Customer communication
  • Employee interviews

Unified Communication Strategy

2. Social Networks

Social networks are seeping into the corporate environment as leaders look for new and innovative ways to communicate and connect with employees. According to Frost and Sullivan, 72% of companies are expected to implement at least one social software platform or tool by 2020, and there will be 639 million paid users on such enterprise social networks. An example of these types of platforms is Cisco Spark. This tool from Cisco collates aspects such as team messaging, video conferencing, white boarding and communication all under one roof. It is a simple and secure space that your team can access from anywhere in the world – setting your team up for success.

3. BYOD

With the proliferation of smart technologies, many companies are adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes to encourage employees to use their own devices in the workplace - while ensuring the security of such an approach by implementing regulations on personal technologies for business purposes.

More than two-thirds of IT decision makers are in favour of BYOD, according to a Cisco study. A core reason is that staff save 81 minutes of time per week by using their own devices. If you add up the time savings across your entire workforce, that’s an impressive figure.

You could implement a BYOD scheme into your workplace by ensuring that you clarify which devices are permitted. There are so many devices on the marketplace, you want to establish whether employees can bring in laptops, phones, tablets etc to demonstrate which devices you will support.

You’ll also need to clearly define the following when implementing a BYOD policy:

  • What IT support is provided for broken devices
  • Who owns what apps and data
  • What support is offered for applications installed on personal devices
  • A clear employee exit strategy of the BYOD policy

4. Wearables and the IoT

Internet-connected wearables are another technology entering the business world and, according to Frost and Sullivan, there will be 50 billion of these devices in the world by 2020 where the IoT (Internet of Things) market will be worth a staggering $14.4 trillion.

Employee safety monitoring, access control and health and wellness are possible application areas. For example, a smartwatch that not only monitors your activity but you can also swipe to give you access to your organisation’s office or off-site locations is one possibility.

Smart glasses are another candidate. For example, a recent survey by PwC found almost half of workers would be attracted to an employer who used virtual reality so they could work remotely and collaborate with colleagues through a headset.

Conclusion

As digitisation sweeps the globe, your business must keep pace to stay relevant and give your staff the workplace they expect in today’s connected world to keep them engaged with their work. Research from Deloitte reveals that engaged employees increased employee retention by up to 87%!

Advantages such as the above, can’t be ignored with more organisations committing to spending more on their IT budget to ensure their workplace is digitalised. This trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down either so supporting the digital workplace with a unified communications stratgey is an option which must be considered.

If you’d like to explore your digital workplace, you can apply for a free trial of the Cisco Spark system here.

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