Three considerations for the evolving digital workplace
Setting business objectives, ensuring an engaged workforce, and understanding the impact on business processes are vital for a successful digital workplace.
With the rapid onset of the hybrid work environment (a combination of in-office and remote working) organisations are being challenged to re-imagine their workplaces. In some cases, this means re-aligning priorities and accelerating their digital transformation strategy, including the digital workplace.
Creating a digital workplace is about more than just throwing new technologies into an existing environment. While many enterprises may be tempted to start their evolution to the digital workplace with technology, at ALE we believe it’s essential to set business objectives, understand the implications for the workforce, and assess the impact on business processes and IT operations. Not taking these elements into consideration can increase the risk of missing business goals altogether.
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Let’s take a closer look at each of these three considerations:
1. Setting business objectives
There are number of strategic options when we consider business objectives:
- Status quo: In this scenario the organisation is not looking to increase any services, applications, or devices. The intent is to continue as if everyone were still working in the same room or building. While the investment costs are limited, incremental outcomes are also unlikely. The real risk with this strategy is that it can lead to silos, or cloud-based shadow IT brought into the workplace by users.
- Selective: In this scenario the organisation takes the opportunity to digitally transform key areas they deem as good candidates to deliver tangible outcomes for example, customer service, e-commerce sites, supply chain, or human resources.
- Global: In this over-arching scenario the digital workplace evolution business objectives are cascaded down throughout the organisation and are regularly monitored and measured with the goal of turning the enterprise into a global digital workplace.
The best option for each enterprise depends on their global strategy and budget. One is not better than the other, as long as it aligns with the organisation’s goals.
2. Implications for the workforce
People are typically more attached to their environment than they’d like to admit. A digital workplace project that requires them to alter the way they work, or where they work, can have unexpected consequences. It’s important to understand the factors that can help the organisation deliver a superior workforce experience while mitigating business risks. That means understanding employee expectations and managing their engagement. After all, it’s better to keep the employees you have, happy, rather than trying to attract and train new ones.
It’s important to nurture the connection between people who are used to working together. Voice exchanges are essential and should not be underestimated as a communications foundation. Some might also say video, but not all devices are video enabled, whereas, any phone can provide the human connection people want and need.
A digital workplace is not just about making a cloud-based collaboration platform accessible. That’s not the case in all environments. Warehouse workers still require mobile devices, such as DECT handsets, to take their communications wherever they go. For example, when picking an item from a shelf for a customer order, speed and reactivity can be a key competitive enterprise advantage.
Similarly, the need for desk phones shouldn’t be overlooked. Not only can the phone create a strong link to the rest of the organisation, it also provides audio quality and comfort not currently available with software applications — for now.
The sociological and psychological impact of a digital transformation is an important area to consider. Beyond the digital services to be deployed, it’s important to understand which functions require personalised attention based on their mission and their contribution to the business objectives.
To deliver a superior workforce experience, we recommend a hybrid cloud strategy where enterprises keep their existing telephony equipment, complemented with cloud-based services such as Rainbow™ by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise UCaaS, which provides the ability to make a full shift to the cloud in the future, when it makes sense and risk is limited.
3. Impact on business processes and IT operations
As mentioned previously, a cloud-based collaboration platform is essential in any digital workplace, however, it shouldn’t be considered the endgame, but rather a foundation upon which to build additional components of the digital strategy.
In most of the cases employees need more than just a chat with a colleague. They need to interact with peers, customers, and partners while accessing the right information at the right time. That means, communications and business processes or applications must be linked.
Integrating real-time communications with customer relationship management systems (CRM), ERPs, human resources applications, and learning management systems (LMS) empowers employees with the information they require to engage in contextual conversations. In addition to efficiency from a customer perspective it also provides a better workforce experience.
From a technology perspective, IT departments need to ensure that integration is possible; either at cloud-level through off-the-shelf connectors or APIs provided by a Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS); or at the premises-level to complement existing communications servers.
While a digital workplace can be rapidly deployed using a combination of existing equipment, such as a telephony server and cloud-based collaboration services, a long-term strategy should include the definition of business objectives, a superior workforce experience, and the business processes to empower people and increase competitiveness.
Each of these can be part of a stepped approach, however, it is important to assess progress and measure benefits along the way to ensure that objectives are met, outcomes are achieved, and most importantly an engaged workplace environment is provided. An enterprise is the sum of its employees. Organisations that don’t keep up with the evolving digital workplace risk losing their most important resources as employees seek alternative options that provide the connection and efficiency they demand.
The ALE hybrid cloud model protects past investments, preventing a disruption in the existing applications, devices, and services, employees are used to working with. And, it puts real-time communications at the core of its processes to deliver a superior workplace experience and a competitive advantage for the enterprise.
Learn more about the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise digital workplace.
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