When we ask customers what they hope to achieve when they build a new digital workplace, we typically get answers that describe lots of different hopes and dreams and frustrations. Although the details might vary from organization to organization, they generally fall into one of three buckets:
These 3 themes provide an excellent framework for organizing the key features as you build your ideal digital workplace. (An “ideal” DWP will drive greater employee engagement, collaboration, innovation, and productivity.) And when your people are more engaged, collaborative, and innovative, they will in turn drive your desired business outcomes such as revenue growth, efficiency, and cost containment.
Think of relevance, usefulness, and connection as the “3 mighty pillars” that a successful digital workplace requires.
As you weigh your digital workplace needs, consider how you can build on these three pillars.
Digital Workplace Pillar #1: Relevance
Relevance is about providing the information that is useful to your employees at any particular moment. According to CMS Wire, nearly 50% of professionals struggle with documents and content scattered across disparate applications and storage locations. The same article cites a Gartner report that 85% of a typical company’s information is unstructured and unorganized.
You probably don’t have to imagine the tremendous employee frustration and wasted time that result from these conditions—you probably experience it every workday.
What if that wasn’t the case?
With an intelligently-designed digital workplace, you get everything you need and nothing you don’t. The information you see is tailored to your department, your role in the organization, and your physical location whether you are in the office or on the road.
There is an almost infinite variety of content types and categories that can be used to provide targeted information to individuals, but most digital workplace employee portals start with:
- News items – With more and more people generating and sharing news items, it is easy to get buried in items that are not relevant to you. (You don’t need to know about the company BBQ in Kansas City if you work in the Boston office.) Good enterprise-level digital workplaces show accounting news to accountants, marketing news to marketers, and corporate news to everyone.
- Document library – Again, one key to a good digital workplace is having “everything you need and nothing you don’t.” This is particularly true in a document library where you are often looking for a specific document with specific criteria. With document list views and targeted search, you see what you need almost before you know you need it. (It gets better: As AI comes to enterprise intranets, search will become more predictive, learning from each individual’s search history, position and role, and interactions with others.)
- Alerts – Important messages get their own space at the top of the website.
Digital Workplace Pillar #2: Usefulness
Information and tools are only as good as they are useful. A well-designed digital workplace, like any good workspace, has the tools and resources that you need close by, clearly labeled, and ready to use. Clearly, the growth of Siri, Alexa, and all the other voice assistants demonstrate that we want someone to provide us with quick and easy information. In a digital world, we create bookmarks or drop icons that allow us to quickly switch from program to program, document to document, without having to search or navigate through endless folders or jump from browser tab to browser tab.
While we can’t anticipate every need our users might have, here are a few that show up time and time again:
- Specialized lists – If you have a list of specialized documents or content types that users refer to over and over again, why not show it?
- FAQ – Think of the hours saved across the entire enterprise if you can provide the answers to common questions right there in the workplace.
- Quicklinks – Whether the links are to other parts of your intranet, third party vendors, or trusted news sources, you can provide your users with easy 1-click access to pretty much anything anywhere. Make it easy for employees to book a room, put in for time off, submit expenses, or access professional development resources.
Digital Workplace Pillar #3: Connection
Lastly, and probably most importantly, a good intranet brings employees “into the fold.” Study after study shows that employees perform far better when they are engaged, valued, and made to feel part of a community. This is particularly true for large, diverse, and distributed organizations.
Whether your coworkers are in the next cubicle or around the world, being able to share stories about your child’s high school graduation or the recipe for that potato salad you brought to the company picnic creates a connection. Here are some important ways large organizations are using digital workplaces to create a sense of community among their employees:
- Photo and Video Galleries—A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it remains worthless if buried on some remote drive where nobody ever goes.
- Directory and Profile information—While most enterprises are organized into departments or teams or levels, the reality is that it is all about the people. You need to know who is doing what.
- Department Pages—Most people like to feel part of a team. They like to have a place where they belong. In large enterprises where any single contribution may get buried, it’s validating to have a department page where work, and resources are on display and easy to get to.
In conclusion: 3 mighty pillars = 1 mightily engaged workforce
As you may have noticed, many of these features could belong with more than one pillar. The point here is not to define a rigid taxonomy but to show examples of how each feature provides a benefit.
A good digital workplace may have lots of different features and tools. A successful one will provide these clear benefits—Relevance, Usefulness, and Connection—to end users. Your teams will feel more efficient and more connected to their work and colleagues. You will be less frustrated by staff time wasted looking for the documents and tools they need to do their jobs.
Research from Gallup shows 70% of the workforce is disengaged at a cost of over $500 billion yearly. An effective digital workplace built on the three mighty pillars of Relevance, Usefulness, and Connection is not just an investment in a happier workplace. It is a driver of a better bottom line.