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Navigating the digital workplace

The shakeup of the coronavirus pandemic is having a lasting effect on the digital workplace. For tech-savvy organisations, the focus is shifting from office technologies to how ‘on-site’ and remote working can work in synchrony through smart use of tech as for many working from home is set to stay.

The 2021 tech trends report from Deloitte has explored how we can reboot the digital workplace. Here we take a look at their findings, and what the future holds for professionals.

Getting the measure of the situation

In Deloitte’s tech trends report it is suggested that a staggering 50% of the employed labour force may now be working from home. Of those who have transitioned to remote working, 60% claim to have established a better work-life balance. And so, unsurprisingly, 74% of respondents wish to continue to telecommute when pandemic restrictions are eased.

Leaders must take measure of the situation. It is seemingly inevitable that the workplace of the future is set to be a mix of onsite and remote staff, and that we must not only accept but embrace a digital workspace moving forward.

Organisations are bound to face obstacles on this journey, and the report highlights some concerns which leaders may have around the prospect of a digital workplace. They include decreased productivity and disjointed collaboration practices. Cultivating relationships is sure to present a challenge, and innovation could suffer. Companies may need to reassess their training practices too, and opt for smart online professional development courses.

The upside is that the digital workplace is measurable. Data generated by worker’s tools and platforms can help companies to thrive. Clever use of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can improve performance through personalised recommendations. Data can uncover behaviour patterns, and AI-driven personal productivity assistants can optimise individual and team outputs with nudges and suggestions for streamlining processes. Enabling technologies means leaders gain actionable insight. Such tools are key to triumphing in the digital workplace.

The human experience for distributed employees

The 2021 tech trends report likened the evolving office workplace to the decline of the highstreet. Despite the initial alarm as online shopping took favour, brick and mortar stores live on – at least for those companies who have taken advantage of the situation, adopted practices such as click and collect, and who have innovated. The mass adoption of remote working at the hands of the pandemic means the office must follow suit. Being able to think outside of the box, react and adapt is going to be key to success.

It is evident that employers and employees are already changing the way they think about the physical workplace. Despite a preference among workers for remote working being here to stay, 72 percent of employees would like a balance of working at home and in the office. Studies have found that the biggest draw of the office is the human connection and face-to-face interactions it offers.

In order for employees to work in synchrony whether they are at home or in the office, businesses must look to cutting-edge solutions. Workplace social channels for example, are heavily researching and investing in innovations such as virtual reality (VR) after it has been found that videoconferencing’s grid of boxes causes disinterest and fatigue. Augmented reality solutions for collaboration are being studied (think online gaming). This would allow users to communicate, ‘meet’, and interact in a more natural-feeling setting.

Adopting technologies which replicate the human experience could have a huge impact on remote workforce relationships. Applications could include collaboration sessions, conferences and training workshops. And the benefits companies could see range from improved levels of engagement through to better outcomes.

Looking to the future

In order to tap into the power of the entire workforce, regardless of location, it is clear that we must break new ground. A successful digital workplace will make smart use of data technologies to measure performance and behaviours to identify patterns and create employee experiences which all improve end results.

The future of the digital workplace means the physical workplace must be upgraded. We must innovate with tech and tools which progress collaborative practices. By adopting technologies which improve work processes such as ideas generation and building connections, companies stand to optimise productivity.

Technologies once tarnished as being disruptive could just be our saviour as we navigate the digital workplace!

The full Deloitte 2021 Tech Trends report is well worth a read. And head here to discover how ITIL training (part of the ILX Group) is navigating the acceleration of digital transformation.