A digital workplace connects people and work – no matter the location

A digital workplace connects people and work – no matter the location 1024 683 Catherine Shinners

There is currently a tsunami of business articles about the post-pandemic work location of employees – full return-to-office mandates, hybrid models with in-office days each week, and some remaining fully remote. Equally there is a swirl of rationales – suggesting employees benefit most from in-person coaching and mentoring, experience better collaboration in office, and that innovation may be undermined by extended working-from-home models.

Before the pandemic, I frequently worked with global companies whose employees were situated across regions, countries, and time zones.  Teams were often assembled from various locations, requiring mostly online meeting and digital tool interactions to work together.

During that time, companies implemented digital transformation initiatives to help employees take advantage of the digital dynamics commonly experienced on the external web – to connect more easily, interact more transparently, and share their work and knowledge products more easily. 

The promise of digital transformation partially realized

The digital tools were unleashed within organizations often with an underlying assumption that they would take hold with the ease and viral impact of public social tools.  These tools, however, were meant to optimize (knowledge) work experience and workflows – to foster a digital workplace.   Here were some of the experiences I have seen workers face –

  • Many tools, fragmented guidance, and governance
  • Missing articulation of clear contexts of value for digital tools – when to use which tool for which context in personal and teamwork use cases
  • Short term delivery of training, adoption support – dissipates after core rollout
  • Management missing from the adoption equation – remaining unfamiliar with the tools, unsure of how to engage, and unsupported in their own communications and leadership workflows
  • Online meeting tools that exacerbated unproductive aspects of default meeting culture

These challenges are not necessarily mediated by hybrid or return-to-office modalities – they were a problem before the pandemic, obscured during the emergency “work-from-home” measures, and often remain despite hybrid or other workplace structures.

The promise of the digital workplace is possible and can support effective work as people are shifting to hybrid, or other operational structures. Over the next few weeks, I’ll bring some ideas and perspectives that will help individuals, teams and leaders in their work and communications.