How millennials are transforming traditional workplace into a digital one

Digital Workplace

Today millennials are doused in smart technology and when it comes to work they demand state-of-the-art technology from their employers-one that is not rigid or burdened by legacy systems. Organizations that have recognized this trend have already started transitioning towards a digital workplace model.

By Virender Jeet

Worldwide the concept of workplace is being redefined – it has transitioned from dedicated physical workstations to being infinite in accessibility and connectivity. This transition is being majorly boosted by advanced technology now available and with the millennial and upcoming GenZ as they call it, entering the workforce. It has been estimated that by 2020, millennials will make up 50% of the global workforce! If you are still wondering what is the connection between workplace restructuring and millennials entering the work force, then read on.

Millennials rooting for efficiency with technology

If you have a teen/tween at home, you must be aware as to how easily they get things done; be it finding directions, gathering information, sharing information in no time and so it goes. And, all of this is fueled by technology. These millenials and the GenZ are growing up in an era where technology is at its smartest, most pervasive and still evolving and they know how to make the best use of it. The new age entrepreneur as well, knows exactly how to tap this trend. They are increasingly utilizing offbeat communication channels for getting work done. Brainstorming, idea generation, follow-ups happening over Whatspp groups etc – who would have thought of that just a decade back.

Today millennials are doused in smart technology and when it comes to work they demand state-of-the-art technology from their employers-one that is not rigid or burdened by legacy systems. Organizations that have recognized this trend have already started transitioning towards a digital workplace model. Microsoft, Google, Apple are some of the best examples of employers who have completely transformed the concept of workplace and have been successful in attracting the best of young talent around. Closer home you can find amazing workplace transformations in the e-commerce and start-up sectors, but the bigger established businesses are catching up as well.

Reinventing workplaces: Connecting systems, processes, people and things

As per Gartner, digital workplace is “a business strategy for promoting employee effectiveness and engagement through a more consumer-like computing environment.” A digital workplace is not a revolutionary concept which requires a complete overhaul of the existing IT infrastructure of your organization. To break it down, digital workplace is about accessibility of the physical workspace virtually through any device- anytime, anywhere and connectivity through the right devices/apps so that your employees can access company information, data, resources and applications remotely.

If you look at it more closely, companies are already digital, but they are digital in silos. Collaboration at workplace started with the Intranet, however it doesn’t cater to all business needs. Your front-line employees might be logging on to your intranet or the attendance system or outlook for routine official tasks, but is it helping them to be more productive at work? How do you ensure that they have ready access to all company information and ensure collaboration on the go? How do you ensure they can feed data into your system while on the field? For instance, it would be such a huge waste of time and resource if a sales employee of a bank had to wait for a day to physically report to his office before he could feed the data of customers he recently on-boarded while on a field trip. Hence the need for a digital workplace.

What’s fueling digital workplace?

The combined forces of Mobility, Cloud and IoT are fueling the digital workplace trend.

Mobility: The rapid proliferation of smart phones, tablets, laptops and other smart devices, coupled with omnipresent data/internet connections is driving mobility like never before.

Cloud: Availability of cloud services (by third party or company owned) and applications available over the cloud has been a major booster in adoption of digital workplace. Office 365 and other office applications have seen a very positive response from employees all over.

IoT: It is more than a buzzword. Internet of Things will see a major adoption in times to come and it is believed will transform workplaces in a major way. From 3D printers to smart wearables- all are said to transform the way employees work and how things get done at work, boosting, efficiency, productivity and cost savings

Some of the signs of workplace transformation are:

Decentralization of office space- The archetypal workspace is slowly crumbling to make space for a truly digital workplace. The concept of a physical workspace-as-a-cubicle is rapidly evaporating. With millenials in the workforce, offices are evolving with their needs. Some may prefer to work in a quite cubicle, while others may prefer to work in a cafeteria or a lounge. Employees are also spread across the globe and do video meetings. So, a workplace is not defined by the physical walls anymore.

Bring-Your-Own-Device (BOYD) to work- The new age employees are already using smart phones, tablets, smart watches and other intelligent devices in their personal life and they do not want to compromise their work life productivity either. Looking at this trend, an increasing number of businesses are asking their employees to report with their own devices which sustains their level of productivity.

Social collaboration- Millenials are social animals and they collaborate best on social platforms. Activities like instant messaging, video collaboration are fuelling workplace productivity and has become an integral part of daily work life to the extent that offices have started incorporating social collaboration features on their intranet and other business process platforms.

Employee engagement is coming into focus. Email exchange is not the only communication medium with employees or partners. Emergence of new work trends such a crowdsourcing, job sharing etc.

Routine, repetitive work is giving way to more dynamic work models that allows employees to learn, grow and contribute meaningfully

Why work towards a digital workplace?

Attracting and retaining talents: Millenials are swarming the workforce and organizations that keep up with the demands of the younger generation for a more free-flowing, collaborative and participative office environment, will have an upper hand.

Boost productivity: Today more and more employees are using their personal devices to check official mails, participate in video conferences while on a holiday, collaborate on social platforms to brainstorm-all of the above boosts productivity. Equipping employees with the right tool, with the right information at the right time has become a necessity today.

Employee satisfaction: The central force in driving digital workplace is the human element-your employees. The need for a digital workplace is primarily to help employees connect, collaborate and communicate seamlessly.

Faster-time-to market: A digital workplace brings with it flexibility and agility which allows employees to fulfill business requirements in time and hence increases time to market of products and services.

Reduced costs: A digital workplace is synonymous with smart connected tools-software, hard ware, applications and IoT which provides intelligent alerts whether it be monitoring supply chains, monitoring mundane operations tasks or any other business processes- leading to reduction in costs.

Challenges and security

Nothing however, is perfect. The journey towards harnessing technology for a truly digital workplace is marred with security concerns. It is so because with a diffused workplace where information can be accessed by employees from anywhere, there is a risk associated with confidential organizational information being misused. Therefore the onus is on the IT department and the business owners to strategize the transition towards digitization of the workplace, with robust security policies in place- one that balances the need for accessibility, flexibility and security of information.

How do you code the digital DNA in your enterprise?

Connecting systems, processes, people and things lies at the heart of the digital workplace strategy. Reinvent the way your enterprise operates to get more responsive to the shifts in contexts – both internal as well as external. You need to reinvent your workplace and make your business infinite by connecting all of your systems, processes, people and things in innovative ways to create an engaging and responsive enterprise. Even though digital has been a part of your enterprise in some way or the other, possibilities are, they are fragmented and not leveraged to its full potential. One of the ways to integrate people, processes, systems and things of your business is by partnering with trusted platform providers that can help you tie up the pieces together and embark on the much needed digital transformation journey.

The author is Sr. Vice President, Newgen Software

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