It is essential to understand the digital workplace at the basic level. Let us take the word work alone; it is something that we humans have been doing since the stone age. It is a persistent aspect of our lives as an important element in being human. It is critical to one's survival and so where and how one works are questions that deserves close attention.
One of the first instances of a virtual workspace of sorts was when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, which helped connect people at two different locations. This was a game-changer at the time. Over the years, we have seen that location and the tools available seem to be two factors that are heavily focused on. People always sought-after places that had the necessary resources in order to do their work. And cities and communities eventually developed around the physical workplace. To understand the importance given to workspaces, we must closely look into the transformation of it in the last two centuries, from harsh working conditions to the hip new spaces that provide an individual with virtually everything their heart desires. Cafes to comfortable meeting spaces have become the new norm.
The digital workplace has a liberating effect when compared to a physical workplace which appears to have an opposite effect as it feels quite restrictive. The physical workspace seems to have this mundanity that is hard to escape. Employees feel like slaves, although the comparison has its limitations, it has some defining similarities such as they are answerable to a higher authority, they need to uphold a certain decorum and their movements are monitored.
The focus has shifted in the last few decades from where we work to how we work. By providing the employee with more autonomy regarding how they complete their allotted work, a sense of empowerment comes into play. This gives work a whole new perspective a more refreshed look at how to go about achieving goals. In several countries, there are policies in place to transform the shape of work in a way that’s beneficial for the country. The focus is mainly on reducing the unnecessary cost to create a more sustainable work environment.
Working from home has further pushed this digital advance as companies can operate during the pandemic. It has reduced the absences and increased the rates of productivity. It allows Employers to hire the best of the best has geography is no longer a limiting factor. Companies save money on computers, electricity and resources resulting in higher profits. On an individual level, an employee would save a large sum of money and time by just cutting down on travel. In a study conducted by staples, it was found that people who work from home are less susceptible to stress and health issues caused by stressful work environments. They seem to have a better work-life balance with healthier and more meaningful relationships. Removing this 9-5 barrier helps create room for more fulfilling work experience. The following reasons would help better understand why a digital workspace is beneficial:
- Hiring a more suitable talent without any hindrance.
- About sixty-four per cent are ready to work for less if they get to work from home
- Flexible workspaces
- The productivity rate increases by almost seven per cent when there’s an online platform
- Digital workspaces have used communication tools that have helped employees to be more connected than ever.
- More opportunities for collaboration
- Employee retention
In order to advance to a more digital workplace the following steps are required, enterprises must make sure that work is easy to access. And start of by automating manual tasks which would lead to more confidence in using technology to complete their work. Research conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded certain things that need to be adopted in order to transform a space into a high functioning digital space. One, it starts with changing the leadership style into more facilitative. In this style of leadership, the employers give their staff the complete freedom to dictate the way the want to go about completing the work given to them.
Although there are several benefits to digitizing the workspace, some of the cons are, the decline in interpersonal skills, face to face communication is a thing of the past which could lead to isolation. It is found that the best or most creative work comes from teamwork. A decline in interpersonal skills can greatly affect business relationships. Another issue is a dependency, individuals will be highly dependent on technology to help complete their tasks. If there's a temporary issue with the system, this can cause a loss for the company. For example, someone working remotely won't be able to resume work unless the system issue is resolved. And the issue with having to keep up with the technological advancements is unavoidable. And this constant upgrading could cause further problems. People fear change, and due to that, there might be some resistance to adopting new technology. An open culture is encouraged that gives emphasis on systemic learning. Where employees are encouraged to share their knowledge, they have, and it creates an environment where people learn from each other.
There are several pros and cons to a digital workspace, but in a world, that’s going through rapid globalization, digitalizing the workspace is more of a need than a want. It helps bridge gaps and brings more innovative ideas to light. According to Deloitte, digital workspaces contribute to the three C’s: Collaboration, communication and connection. Three are the guiding forces that would help an organization achieve its highest potential.