Building the Digital Workplace by improving one work task at a time

Published October 18, 2012 by Stephan Schillerwein

Many people are now somewhat familiar with the (basics of the) concept of the Digital Workplace (if you are new to this, you might consider reading our report on the Digital Workplace). Those who are familiar with it see the enormous potential it offers, but – quite naturally – also the effort, time and change required to get there. “We need this so desperately, but we are just not ready to start going down that road, yet” is something I hear organizations say quite often.

In this situation, it first needs explaining that a Digital Workplace shouldn’t be thought of a finished product that one day (after lots and lots of hard work) will just be there, but rather as the long-term goal of a well-designed Digital Workplace Roadmap.
While this helps people relax and bring the Digital Workplace back into an area of their minds that is tagged “realistic projects”, still a lot of upfront work is required before you can harvest the first sweet fruits coming from such an initiative.
So as you are creating your Digital Workplace strategy and roadmap – and I encourage every organization to really take their time to find out what it is, that they want the Digital Workplace to do for them – there are still things that you can do to bring about the new digital reality you want to create even faster.

The Digital Workplace is about work optimisation

Nowadays, work increasingly is “digital work” or “information work”. Especially the tasks with the highest impact on organizational success fall into the category of “information work”. Technology can do a lot to improve this type of work, but “a fool with a tool is still a fool” – and the Digital Workplace is no exception to this. Optimizing and changing current work practices is therefore a big issue for any Digital Workplace (and for the more advanced Intranets as well). And that is exactly where you can start today, right now, without any grand strategy, without the need to buy a new system or any other big investment.
All you need to do is find work procedures that are not well executed today. And you don’t need to look far to find them. The way in which the vast majority of people are working with information today is highly ineffective (the aforementioned report lists a disturbing amount of proof for that). The good news: much of this can be improved with little changes and by using current technology.
So, in parallel to more strategic considerations also start on a more operational, day-to-day work level. There are so many things one can do to improve information work. Given that this kind of work constitutes an ever increasing part of the job for an ever increasing number of staff, you will gather support for your broader Digital Workplace initiative from the people that you have helped in getting their work done in a better way.
In order to help you get going, I will start a series of blog posts that look at typical tasks in information work and how to improve them. The first couple of posts will look at aspects of collaboration in an enterprise setting, at what works and what doesn’t.
Have a great day and let me know any such “small steps” that you have already successfully introduced in your organization’s journey to the Digital Workplace. 🙂

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