Most companies today – regardless of location, size, or industry – struggle with the same things:
These issues hamper productivity, decrease corporate capacity, and cripple the pace of innovation. They're also being compounded by external forces which are driving fundamental shifts in the workplace today. The deepening generation gap, increasing use of personal devices and apps, growing fragmentation of the workforce, and an intensifying talent war are affecting organizations of all shapes and sizes.
In this section, we address four transformational forces that are changing the digital workplace.
Trend 1: Mobile workforce
Today’s workforce is becoming more and more distributed. GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com reports that approximately 25% of the global workforce teleworks at some frequency, and employees are not at their desks 60% of the time. With the ability to work remotely, with flexible hours, from whichever device they choose, employees can work across geographies and time zones. The challenge lies in fostering the kind of company culture you’d be able to achieve if everyone was in the same place.
Hear how Jocelyn Flint at CET Academic Programs has used Igloo to bring people from remote locations together to share information and ideas.
Trend 2: BYOA
With the onslaught of SaaS apps and tools, it seems like we’re spending more time figuring out how to work than doing any real work. Your employees are demanding more flexibility, but when everyone’s empowered to work on their own terms, culture, communication and collaboration suffer. And the gaps in age, cultures, and expertise are causing friction in an already chaotic and competitive workplace.
More and more, people are opting to use their personal productivity applications like Google Docs or Dropbox to communicate and collaborate at work. These apps find their way into the workplace because they’re fast and familiar, and – most important – they don’t require any involvement from IT. Today, the average employee uses 30 cloud apps at work, including 8 for collaboration and 5 for file sharing.
But accommodating every employee’s app of choice can counteract communication and knowledge-sharing practices in your organization, not to mention the security implications involved.
"Cloud app projects deliver 2.1 times the ROI of on-premises ones, up 24% since 2012."
– Nucleus Research
But implementing multiple disparate platforms and tools can eventually overwhelm people. Even if they promise to be modern, cloud-based solutions, they still require employees to learn new functionality, processes, and ways of communicating and storing information. This can lead to underutilization, nomadic data, and even abandonment of new solutions, regardless of their initial perceived value.
The digital workplace has emerged as the mission critical tool to band disparate apps together. A tool that was traditionally thought of as an IT-sanctioned document store or link farm now represents an avenue for organizations to create a sophisticated digital destination and corporate identity, connecting their entire organization – across borders, boundaries, and organizational structures.
A digital workplace doesn’t promise to replace existing solutions or third-party applications inside an organization. Instead, it’s a portal through which people can view and access all the tools and information they need to do their jobs.
Trend 3: The generation gap is widening
In your workplace, you may have people who grew up well before the advent of email alongside those who can’t remember life before smartphones. The majority of today’s workforce is comprised of three generations that entered the workforce during three very different times. You've heard the terms: baby boomers (born 1946-1965); generation X (1966- 1976) and millennials (1977-1994). The dates aren't important, but the cultural differences and the impact they have on your workplace are.
This generational cycle and its impact must be taken into account when planning your digital workplace strategy. The generations work differently. They use different tools. They have different expectations. They align with different rules. These differences -- along with the widening gap in digital fluency -- can cause friction. There’s an urgent need to find digital solutions that drive productivity – no matter what attitudes and abilities are at play.
"Millennials will be 50% of the global workforce by 2020, 75% by 2025."
– PwC, Brookings Institute, Forbes
All these groups have to collaborate seamlessly at work. They need a common digital destination that bridges generational tech preferences, boosts collaboration, and fosters peak productivity. Gen Z entered the workplace in 2016, while boomers are reluctant to retire. Millennials will dominant the workplace in the upcoming years. There's a need to recognize and address the different working styles of these generations. Ignoring the problem is accepting defeat. Every company needs a solution that embodies the workflows and communication styles of each generation.
Trend 4: The war for talent
Today, top talent enter the workforce with more options than ever before. Conversely, employer options are on the decline to entice top talent to join their organization. As well, employees no longer stay at companies for their entire career: they stay two or three years and then move on.
Organizations must now deal with the society of “free-agent” employees they’ve created through years of cut-backs, outsourcing, and extended work weeks. This means it’s going to be harder and harder to find and replace top talent.
"38% of employers globally experience difficulties finding skilled talent."
– Manpower Group
Investing in recruiting, onboarding, and retaining talent is crucial to your digital workplace strategy. If you haven’t devoted significant resources to attracting, developing, and holding onto talent, this can pose a challenge. Employee experience is as important as customer experience. Gone are the days of top-down management, where executives rule from the top floor. Instead, innovative companies are adopting a ground-up approach that focuses on company culture and protecting their most valuable asset: people.
Just as these companies build world-class websites for their customers, they’ve realized a need to create an inspiring digital destination for engaging their employees.