Eight Building Blocks for the Digital Workplace

No matter where you are in the process of executing a digital workplace initiative, these eight building blocks are vital to its success.

Employees want to be connected across devices and with their colleagues and processes during their workdays. The digital workplace offers companies tremendous potential if they are strategically prepared to take advantage of interconnected trends like the consumerization of technology, digital dexterity, changing work models, information intensity and the desire to share and collaborate.

“If your digital workplace initiative is not yet underway, you can use Gartner’s eight building blocks to frame conversations with the stakeholders responsible for approving, supporting and implementing relevant programs,” noted Carol Rozwell, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst. “If your initiative is already underway, you can use our building blocks to review and re-evaluate your efforts thus far. “

The Eight Building Blocks

1. Digital workplace vision: why, what and how

The digital workplace vision should articulate two ideas: the value proposition of the enterprise as it transforms traditional models into a digital business, and the importance of a strong digital workplace in achieving an organization’s goals in the digital economy.

Creating a compelling vision of digital workplace transformation will help everyone in the organization understand how digital workplace efforts will affect business processes and bring about improved business outcomes.  This vision should be consistent with the organization’s values and serve as a source of inspiration.

2. Digital workplace strategy: write a comprehensive road map

The workplace strategy should set clear priorities and serve as a blueprint for the roles and relationships of each department (R&D, marketing, sales, customer support, manufacturing, HR and IT). It should also map out how various technologies will be exploited to raise engagement levels and support the transition to a digital business.

3. Workplace employee engagement: encourage a corporate culture of autonomy, accountability and empowerment

This is a mainstay of the digital workplace initiative because the new ways of working require behavioral changes as employees collaborate, take on challenges and provide local leadership to redesign the workplace. HR will play a major role in ensuring employee engagement is owned by all stakeholders.

4. Digital workplace organizational change: this changes everything

As they mature, digital workplace initiatives will necessitate considerable changes in internal processes, departmental structures, incentives, skills, culture and behaviors. Ultimately, every system and role will be affected. A far-sighted strategy includes:

  • A plan to train or hire personnel who possess right skills and competencies.
  • Leadership culture where senior executives relentlessly model the desired new behaviors, hold peers accountable, and listen and engage with employees.
  • Setting explicit standards and best practices for all digital workplace projects.

5. Digital workplace processes: how to be the right kind of enabler

Building a successful digital workplace demands a fresh approach to business processes and removing the activities that get in the way of solving business challenges. Re-engineering such processes requires a careful analysis of how employees currently work and engage each other, and adding new tools and adapting outmoded processes.

6. Digital workplace information: on demand and on target

Workers expect their enterprise tools to mimic the sources and applications they use every day – from Google Now to Apple Siri – data must be accessible and useful.  Exploit consumer information trends including:

  • Enterprise file-sharing systems with mobile access and effortless synchronization.
  • Search focusing on places where workers truly keep or seek information.
  • Personal analytics dashboards for employees to track their progress.

7. Digital workplace metrics: measurement as a tool for change and evaluation

All initiatives should be designed to have a positive impact on a business-value metric, such as workforce effectiveness, employee agility, employee satisfaction and other organization-specific goals. Unless there is a focus on metrics and benchmarking against those metrics — before and after an initiative — there is no objective basis for reporting and analyzing improvements.

8. Digital workplace technology: get smart

The four factors in the Nexus of Forces – mobile, social, cloud and information – converge and reinforce the digital workplace and support the creation of a digital workgrid.

This combination of factors caters to user preferences, promotes collaboration and accessibility, and ultimately informs all decisions with contextual and accessible data. When new technologies like smart machines are integrated into the digital workgrid it will enhance the abilities and efficiencies of the workforce. IT leaders responsible for digital workplace initiatives must work out how to use technology in resourceful ways, and how to use new technologies to enable more effective ways of working.

With thorough design and careful integration, the eight building blocks of a digital workplace initiative will deliver an environment that is better able to exploit challenging business conditions and attain desired outcomes.

Gartner clients are encouraged to read the full report Attention to Eight Building Blocks Ensures Successful Digital Workplace Initiatives by Carol Rozwell and Achint Aggarwal. Additional information on the Digital Workplace is being presented at the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit, May 18-20 in Orlando, Florida. All recorded sessions from the Summit can be viewed at Gartner Events on Demand.

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