What Is a Digital Workplace?
A digital workplace is the natural evolution of the workplace driven by the widespread adoption of digital technology. The days of a workplace being a physical office occupied by employees during regular business hours are long gone. Today’s modern, always-connected technologies have transformed the workplace into a virtual environment that transcends the physical office building – a digital workplace.
The way we work in the digital era is vastly different from the way we used to work: from collaboration among employees via videoconferencing tools like Zoom and messaging apps like Slack, to engagement with customers with help desk tools such as Zendesk and email marketing platforms like Marketo, to transforming everyday business processes using platforms like frevvo. The aim is to improve operational efficiency and meet business goals.
The digital workplace is no longer a thing of the future – it’s already here. In fact, with the remote collaboration tools now available to us, many businesses now operate without any physical workplace at all.
While remote work is growing in popularity, the term “digital workplace” is not restricted to distributed teams – it also describes traditional “co-located” teams that have applied technology to their ways of working in order to optimize operational efficiency and better meet business goals.
Here are a few of the key areas that may be addressed and streamlined with technology in a digital workplace, whether the workplace in question is a central office, semi-distributed, or fully virtual:
- Onboarding & training
- Task/Project management
- Document/Asset management
- Knowledge management
- Customer management
- Social engagement & community management
- Human resources & support
- Workflow automation
- Financial processes & procurement
There’s really no limit on the number or types of work tasks and processes you can optimize through digitization.
The Benefits of a Digital Workplace
Once you embark on the path towards digital transformation and discover how much you can simplify and streamline your operations with a few basic changes, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner. A digital workplace can help improve productivity, cost-efficiency, employee morale and customer satisfaction.
Improve Morale & Culture (and Reduce Employee Attrition)
Embracing technologies like virtual collaboration and communication tools allows you to grant your employees greater flexibility in terms of core office hours, which in turn promotes better work-life balance. More importantly, when you eliminate the mind-numbing, mundane tasks, you free your employees up to tackle more meaningful and challenging projects, which is key to keeping talented employees engaged and reducing employee turnover.
Upgrade Your Customer Experience & Support
More engaged, happier employees = better customer experiences. Moreover, greater efficiency means that customers will probably get what they came for more quickly and seamlessly and customer support can be more streamlined, integrated, and personal. With the help of customer cloud-based customer support tools, you can ensure that your teams are equipped to deliver top-notch support.
Plan Projects – and Resource – Realistically
There are few things more demotivating and exhausting than working for an organization or team that’s chronically under-resourced or where managers continuously underestimate timelines. With digital project management tools comes data, allowing managers to plan projects and allocate resources with greater accuracy so that stuff like overtime is the exception, not the rule.
Digital task management systems also give employees a better big-picture view of their future work and built-in communication tools like comments and chat make it easier to communicate the status of any given project and can help increase accountability and trust among teams.
Save Time & Boost Productivity
Cut out tedious, manual tasks by automating repetitive administrative tasks like data entry, email back-and-forth, and countless hours spent on the phone or walking over to people’s desks to follow up on documents that need signatures or to iron out PO-invoice discrepancies. With tools like dynamic digital forms, automated routing, and reminder notifications, you can remove a lot of manual administrative tasks and bottlenecks from your business processes. This, in turn, boosts productivity by allowing your staff to focus on actual work instead of admin.
Whether you’re simply going paperless in-office or ditching your office space altogether, embracing the digital workplace can significantly reduce overhead costs, allowing you to reinvest the money you saved elsewhere or simply enjoy higher profit margins.
A digital workplace can have a profound impact on your team’s collaboration capabilities by allowing team members to work on the same documents/files and leave each other feedback and suggestions with ease. Shared, centralized digital asset management makes it easy to locate files and exercise clear version control, and digital task management tools make it easy for collaborators to track the status of each project and even automatically notify colleagues when the task preceding theirs has been completed so that they know when to jump in.
Improve Visibility & Accountability
Digital tools make it easier than ever before to gain process and project visibility across the organization and, in turn, promote accountability. Digital process management enables automatic audit trails as well as status notifications, making it much easier to check which stage any particular workflow is currently in. By continuously assessing your workflows, you can continue to identify and address bottlenecks and other pain points.
When you free up your employees’ time – and boost their mental “bandwidth” or energy levels by automating the dull, repetitive parts of their job, you create an environment conducive to creativity and coming up with great ideas that might be just what your organization needs to gain a competitive edge.
Facilitate Remote Work & Distributed Teams
When the majority of your organization’s tasks and processes can be executed digitally, you’re far more equipped to facilitate remote work in times of crisis or as a company perk – an increasingly attractive differentiator when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent.
Bridging the Gap Between Tech and Humans
As we’ve seen, transforming your organization into a digital workplace has many important benefits. However, to reap the full benefits of digital transformation, it’s critical that you take the necessary steps to bridge the gap between your people and your technological solutions.
At the end of the day, your company culture comes down to the intersection of your people and your organization’s tools and processes.
Even if you have a team of the most dedicated, talented professionals available working for you, if your tools and processes are outdated and tedious, morale and your company culture will suffer.
The latest technologies won’t help much if you haven’t made the effort to get employee buy-in through change management and taken the time to integrate your new tools into your culture through careful onboarding and training. Failing to set clear objectives and measure whether new tools and process improvements are living up to business expectations is a recipe for failed digital transformation initiatives.
The good news? It’s easy to avoid these pitfalls by taking the time to conduct a workflow analysis before you start making changes, setting specific and measurable goals for your new tools and processes, and following up by periodically analyzing your data to identify opportunities for further optimization.
Key Elements of an Effective Digital Workplace
There’s no single catch-all outline or checklist of what constitutes a digital workplace, as every organization looks different and each business’s needs are unique. For instance, a small community college’s transition to a digital workplace is likely to look very different from an Ivy League university or Fortune 500 company making the same change.
That said, there are some key elements that make for a successful digital workplace regardless of the type or size of the organization. Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients that contribute to successful digital transformation:
- Strong leadership is vital to driving adoption and modeling the behaviors you wish to normalize throughout the organization.
- Involving stakeholders early in the process to identify which technological tools and process improvements will be most effective and which tasks and workflows will benefit most from being digitized and automated. It’s important to integrate new ways of working into the way people actually work if you hope to see adoption.
- Prioritizing strategy over technology ensures that improvements serve a real purpose and aren’t implemented purely for the sake of “digital transformation.” Having clear goals also sets you up to measure the success of the changes you’ve made.
- Upgrading processes and technological tools with care and selecting the right tools for the job – and ensuring that these tools integrate seamlessly with existing solutions such as legacy software.
- Communication and change management are essential when shifting to a digital workplace, ensuring that employees feel safe (they’re not being replaced by technology!) and understand how the new tools and processes will benefit them and make their job easier, etc.
- Capacity building through meticulous onboarding and ongoing training sets your team up for success and encourages enthusiastic adoption by making employees feel empowered.
Successful digital workplaces embed the use of efficiency-driving technology into their workplace culture. Whether it’s updating digital project management boards or using workflow automation to route forms for approval instead of emailing them, you’ll have the most consistent adoption if you make these processes the norm in your organization.
Process Automation in the Modern Digital Workplace
In the digital workplace, organizations have embraced digital transformation (DX) and done away with tedious manual, often paper-based processes in favor of streamlined, automated digital workflows.
These organizations realize that employee engagement is critical to success in the 21st century – as the talent shortage intensifies competition for workers, it’s even more important to ensure that employees feel engaged at work. In fact, Gallup recently found that highly engaged teams correlate to a 59% reduction in employee turnover.
Very few things annoy talented employees more than wasting their precious time on tedious, unnecessary tasks. That’s where process automation makes a dramatic difference. Digital workflows eliminate duplicate data entry, reduce manual work, free employees from chasing down approvals, and let them focus on work that matters. That means happier, more engaged employees who are easier to retain.
How to Automate Processes in the Digital Workplace in 9 Easy Steps
One key step you can take to transform your operations is automating business processes to reduce menial administrative tasks and make your operations more efficient.
You’ll probably find that even workflows that are fairly reliant on humans have one or two steps that can be streamlined or automated.
1. Analyze Existing Conditions
Before making any significant changes, make sure you have a clear idea of the current state of affairs by conducting a workflow analysis that involves hard data as well as interviews with your employees. Understanding your current processes will allow you to identify pain points and prioritize the improvements that will have the biggest impact.
2. Make a Plan
Create a roadmap that outlines what you hope to achieve and how you intend to go about it. It’s crucial to align your digital transformation initiatives with your business goals and your employees’ needs.
3. Choose the Right Tech Stack
Selecting the right tools for the job is critical. Be sure to compare your options and consider factors like ease-of-use and integration capabilities when making your decision, to ensure that the people who’ll be using your tools don’t need to be I.T. specialists to figure out how to use them – and that they’ll play nice with your existing tech stack.
4. Digitize and Automate Key Workflows
Start by targeting a few key workflows that would clearly benefit from automation. You might start by selecting a relatively common, “low-hanging fruit” type of workflow to demonstrate how simple changes can save time and effort and gain buy-in from employees. For instance, you might start by automating the invoice approval workflow or the time-off request process.
5. Define Success
In order to execute a successful transformation to a digital workplace, you need to first know what success will look like. Decide what your specific objectives are and how you will measure them. Perhaps you wish to cut the number of purchase requisitions that get rejected, or reduce the amount of time it takes to complete specific workflows. The bottom line: if you can measure it, you can manage it.
6. Manage Change
Change can be scary, and employees might interpret drastic changes to your existing processes as criticism and feel insecure in their jobs as a result. Don’t neglect to get buy-in from the people who’ll be most affected by the changes you want to implement. Make sure that your employees understand that these changes are there to help them, not undermine them.
7. Implement Training
Make sure everyone knows how to use any new technologies or tools you implement. Provide comprehensive onboarding and training and make sure that employees know who to consult if they have questions. Self-help resources can also be enormously helpful.
8. Measure Success
Decide on metrics and set benchmarks to measure whether your new processes are yielding the results you were hoping for. Luckily, with most of your processes digitized, you’ll have access to large quantities of data that you can analyze.
9. Iterate & Optimize
Keep iterating and improving your ways of working by applying your learnings from your data analysis. Solicit feedback from actual users and take the time to actually implement their suggestions. They’ll feel far more invested in the success of digital initiatives.
How Can frevvo Help You Build Your Digital Workplace?
frevvo’s business process automation software can help you transform your organization into a digital workplace by automating day-to-day workflows, whether it’s an accounting process or an HR workflow.
frevvo’s no-code digital forms are super easy to design using our 100% visual, drag-and-drop form designer and rule builder, which means anyone can use them without needing to rely on help from I.T. You can even choose from dozens of templates and customize them to meet your needs.
frevvo’s digital forms are mobile responsive, ADA- and WCAG-compliant, and come equipped with an electronic signature feature that makes it easy to sign documents on-the-go using your mobile phone. This, combined with automated routing and reminder notifications, means no more bottlenecks in your approval workflows!
Why not try frevvo free for 30 days? If you’d like to read a bit more about us first, download our recent whitepaper about workflow automation below.