Monday, August 17, 2015

Three Aspects in Building a Digital Workplace

A digital workplace is all about people-centricity, empathy, innovation, agility and high-level business maturity.

Digital workplaces are about building an environment with the abundance of information and the culture of innovation, to put people at the center of business, and to both engage employees and delight customers. After clarifying the Big Why, there are still many questions haunting around about the Knowing -HOW, though:  Is it possible to have an effective digital workplace where the culture is more command and control, where the chosen solutions simply mirror or reinforce the way of working within that hierarchy, but do so very well? Or is it a prerequisite of an effective Digital Workforce to have that more open culture, and so "traditional" organizations are facing a culture change task alongside the development of a more effective Digital Workforce? Could you be imposing the current values of collaboration and openness on an effective Digital Workforce, and discounting organizations who aren't making progress in developing their own Digital Workforce? When setting the workplace policy to enforce digital management, are you thinking of guidelines for people? Do you have a basic business conduct policy that people sign when they join?

The most effective digital workplace is one where collaboration and sharing are the norms. The least effective culture at fostering a digital workplace is traditional command and control environments. So digital technology such as enterprise social computing could be effective tools to break down a hierarchical culture, and businesses have to figure out a more efficient way of bringing people together to follow a vision and "lead from the top." Is it possible to have a more “closed” organization successfully pursuing the Digital Workforce vision? Generally speaking, where you find an effective Digital Workplace initiative, regardless of the nature of the organization, you will also find some similarities in culture (open, visionary leadership, encouraging the innovative spirit of experimentation). To be most effective, information has to flow more freely in digital business, hence the issue with command and control management is that it stifles fluidity and agility due to its hierarchical structure or overly rigid processes.

At a truly digital workplace, people are climbing the social ladders more proactively: Social ladder becomes the trend to complement the traditionally corporate ladder. It means talent people practice thought leadership and share knowledge & insight via digital channels at today's sharing economy. We all know, the traditional career ladder is so narrow, often based on who you know, not what you know, and it often causes people to compete unprofessionally. At the digital workplace, talent people are encouraged to discover their own purpose and strength, well aligning with the business purpose, and they are equipped with a growth mind. This is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being consistent with the values, an idea that is incompatible with their values, norms or practices will not be adopted as rapidly as an innovation that is compatible. One of the biggest obstacles to a successful digital workplace is that people (not just senior management but all employees) just don't see the value or importance of contributing digital content, posting or responding to questions, online discussions, writing articles, making videos, blogs, collaborating online or even simply just updating their own profiles. People are happy enough to 'lurk' or view content but when it comes to actually creating something, it's a real battle in many organizations to convince employees to do this. But to inspire thought leadership and encourage brainstorming the new ideas, employees need to climb up the digital ladder, from reading through to commenting, and producing the enriched digital content to build a professional brand, and the collective wisdom will foster corporate brand as well.

The purpose of setting digital workplace policy is to harness cross-functional communication with enforced information GRC. Because communication across the business is both a reflection of the culture and influences on it. This is the same for a digital workplace - the tools made available, what is easiest to use, the options provided to help people think, communicate, connect, share - all reflect and influence the culture of the workplace. It’s important in findings into common cultural characteristics associated with technology adoption and use, and early indications seem to show that cultures that have strong vision and leadership, are outward looking rather than insular, are willing to accept a degree of risk and experimentation, etc, digital masters are those who are more likely to experience more successful adoption of new technology and agile process to adapt to changes.

A digital workplace encompasses so much that it's hard to isolate it from other dimensions of the enterprise. And there is no such magic formula to fit in every situation, but overall speaking, digital organizations are all about people-centricity, empathy, innovation, agility and high-level business maturity.


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