workplace transformation

COVID-19 brought workplace transformation and digitization to the fore

Digital workplace transformation, a growing trend in the last few years, accelerated in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses had to shift to remote working abruptly and upend their technologies to bring in the digital workplace to maintain business continuity. So, what’s a digital workplace?

The digital workplace is a modern, flexible version of the traditional workplace and is characterized by the consumerization of IT and collaborative workplaces. It helps sustain technology currency and offers a consistent user experience for employees across devices and locations. The new workplace brings unbridled collaboration with a productivity boost as well as scalable and resilient IT services with intelligence and automation at the core.

The Digital Workplace enables new, more effective ways of working; raises employee engagement and agility; and exploits consumer-oriented styles and technologies. – Gartner

The new dimensions of a digital workplace

In the new digital workplace, enterprises had to find new ways of imparting training, facilitating team bonding and collaboration while being mindful of employee wellness since they no longer had a complete view of how people behaved in their isolated workplaces. Factors critical in the physical world for forming, norming, storming, and performing needed to be reconsidered with new strategies and practices to stay competitive. The situation necessitated the adoption of digital, cloud-based solutions to enable remote working with secure access.

Fortunately, most organizations reported an improvement in their productivity, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and diversity and inclusion in the new environment. And hence, as the pandemic eases, the hybrid work model will become far more common. According to a McKinsey & Company survey, nine out of ten organizations will be combining remote and on-site working in the post-pandemic future of work.

Reflecting on the learnings of the time, organizations are preparing for the hybrid work model by making long-term investments in workplace transformation as well as reimagining business processes and training the managers and executives for remote leadership.

The focus shifts to workplace analytics and insights

As we continue to live with the pandemic, the need to digitize the workplace will continue to grow with a larger focus on the human side. Workplace analytics and insights will play a critical role.

For long, organizations have used evolving technologies to observe and analyze business processes, study, and monitor employee behavior. The emergence of big data and the application of AI and MLled to businesses leveraging insights from customer behavior to tailor strategies to deliver superior experiences. Drawing a parallel, they are now gaining insights from employee behavior to help them create modern organizational policies. This can help them create a workplace culture that delivers better employee experiences, thus driving individual and organizational productivity.

Organizations will also need to strategize on the adoption of digital tools and their effective use to drive positive change. The value of digital workplace transformation can be derived by measuring and understanding its impact on key business metrics, including employee retention, sales performance, customer satisfaction, et al.

This is just the beginning of the entire realm of workplace insights. While there are decades of research in workplace management for traditional office environments, organizations do not yet have pervasive insights about employee behavior and engagement in the virtual work model. There is a need to research and build guidance around diverse aspects such as how would training and enablement evolve in a hybridenvironment, best practices for online meetings, the sociological aspects of virtual teamwork and collaboration, the behavioral patterns in a remote framework, and more.

Summary

The global digital workplace market size is expected to grow from $22.7 billion in 2020 to $72.2 billion by 2026, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 21.3%, according to a Markets and Markets report.

The aim of a successful digital workplace is to improve customer-centricity and employee-led innovation. Digitization is essentially the means, not the end. Enterprises will have to rely ontech-driven workplace insights to get more value from a dispersed, diverse workforce. They must aim for digital parity across the board while helping align technology, people, and business processes to improve operational efficiency and meet organizational goals.

By Lax Gopisetty, Vice President, Global Practice Head for Microsoft Business Applications and Digital Workplace Services, Infosys

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