Managing a digital workplace is highly distinct from managing a physical workplace.
Employees working in different locations and on different time zones often makes it difficult for managers to monitor morale, productivity, and culture within the workplace — and that’s often down to poor digital workplace management strategies.
In this article, we’ll reveal the four most common mistakes made by digital workplace managers, and how to avoid them.
The Digital Elephants In The Room
The hype around the digital workplace is still strong. As it stands, 28 percent of organizations say most or all employees work in a non-office environment, and because it’s great for brands to hire anywhere and manage teams larger than their office space could handle, you can expect that number to rise.
Digital workplaces breed flexibility and aid growth — but there are some digital elephants in the room.
Employee engagement in digital workplaces for example, especially amongst Millennials, is worrying. Millennials are the least engaged group generation at work according to Gallup, with only 28.9 percent describing themselves as engaged in their work.
To help rid your digital workplace of such lurking Elephants, here are five common pitfalls of managing a digital workplace to avoid.
1. Building a Divided Digital Workplace
Ideally, a digital workplace should comprise of a company-wide intranet and messaging tools which connects everyone in the organization. It should also provide tools for managing business processes, applications which streamline collaboration and custom tools for specialized tasks and processes.
But the key is that everybody should be using the same technology.
The problem arises when management allows each department to choose their own apps and tools, most of which aren’t designed to integrate with each other. This leads to muddled communication between departments, undermining the objective of having digital workplace. Once employees realize the shortcoming of such a system they tend to become disengaged.
2. Not Fostering a Digital Workplace Culture
This is a common scenario across many organizations. Management wants to revolutionize the workplace with cutting-edge digital workplace software, but they fail to convince their employees of the benefits — leading to a disenfranchised digital workplace launch.
Implementing a digital workplace is a big challenge because in addition to deploying a solution you have to overcome the natural human tendency to resist change. Many companies have learned the hard way that simply deploying a digital workplace solution doesn’t guarantee that people will use it.
In order to make the digital workplace initiative a success, you need to make it a part of the work culture. This requires education and training around digital workplace apps, driving home the benefits for both employees and the brand as a whole. Once employees start using digital workplace application, they’ll gradually begin to appreciate the ease and convenience that a digital workplace provides.
3. Enforcing Dated HR Policies
Strict HR policies associated with attending the digital workplace at set times and mandatory end of the day meetings all limit the true potential of a digital workplace and serve to alienate employees.
A digital workplace should give employees the freedom to work from anywhere. It should allow sales reps to digitally mark their attendance in case they have a busy schedule and can’t drop into the office, and it should allow employees to participate in a conference from any location if they’re able to. Modifying the organization’s HR policies is essential for reaping the benefits of a digital workplace.
Mobility and flexibility should be a principal part of your digital workplace initiative and not treated as an afterthought. It is important to prioritize employees’ convenience when developing digital workplace application and this is only possible if applications can run on devices which are preferred by employees. So, making applications accessible via mobile devices, wearable tech and IoT devices is essential for creating a future-proof digital workplace.
4. Forgetting About Data
In a digital workplace, you can’t physically keep an eye on your employees, and as previously mentioned, flexibility and freedom to work however employees want is what a digital workplace is all about — to a degree, at least.
Thus, data is the eyes and ears of management. When selecting a digital workplace technology, you should ensure that analytical data is available to help you keep track of employee engagement and progress.
Plus, management should spend time taking feedback from their employees in the form of one-to-one discussions, or surveys. Questions should revolve around what’s working in the digital workplace, and what’s broken.
5. Not Hiring Digital Workplace Leaders
Last but not least, is failing to have dedicated digital workplace leadership.
The pitfalls listed above can only be avoided if the digital workplace has at least one warden attending to issues, answering questions and encouraging engagement. Without a leader inside the digital workplace at all times, employees may get lost, or lose the will to stay engaged.
The Digital Workplace Group identifies 8 traits of a strong digital workplace leader:
- Digital Literacy: The technical, cognitive, critical, creative and social skills needed to make the most of digital technology.
- Digital Vision: The ability to developing and articulate a cohesive digital strategy.
- Advocacy: Being an agent of change in a digital workplace by molding mindset and behavior.
- Presence: Being digitally present across the organization’s digital workplace softwares.
- Communication: Having an effective communication style.
- Adaptability: Being adaptable to technological changes while staying focused on the overall strategy.
- Self-awareness: Being aware of their impact on the digital workplace and developing emotional intelligence within it.
- Cultural Awareness: The ability to be sensitive to cultural differences in all situations.
Optimize Your Digital Workplace
Adopting a shiny intranet or using Slack doesn’t guarantee a successful digital workplace. To foster a culture of collaboration, engagement and productivity, digital workplace leaders need to avoid the pitfalls above, and get proactive about digital workplace optimization.
Got any tips on how to manage a digital workplace? Share them with us by leaving a comment below