How can a digital workspace boost employee productivity?
The scope of internal communications is continuously expanding and evolving as new technology develops and improves. While intranets are well established in most workplaces, digital workspaces are now becoming more common due to the increased level of interaction and flexibility they offer and the benefits this brings. The introduction of a digital workspace will inevitably mean an increased investment in technology from the companies that implement them. But, is the increased cost worth it and does it boost employee productivity?
Areas a digital workspace can enhance productivity:
- Access to technology
- Availability of information
- Employee engagement
The incorporation of multiple communication tools (Outlook 2016, Yammer, Skype for Business and now Microsoft Teams) in a digital workspace helps colleagues communicate in an efficient way, as well as being more akin to the way people now communicate with each other outside of the office environment. An article in the Harvard Business Review found that companies with effective enterprise social networks were 7% more productive than those without.
Although it may sometimes be seen as counter intuitive, through the use of multiple communications tools rather than one single platform such as email, management can disseminate information to employees more easily and quickly. With this increased level of communication, employees can then collaborate more effectively. As highlighted in a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute, they found that if employees were connected to one another then productivity improved by 20-25%.
This inter-employee connectivity via technology helps with collaboration between teams and employees are encouraged to work with people outside of their team more often. Further research conducted for Microsoft found that 40% of employees thought social media technologies fostered better teamwork.
Access to technology
Another key feature of a modern digital workspace is the ability to access the right technology from any location, on any device. In a recent study by the US President’s Council of Economic Advisors it was found that flexible working has been linked to increased levels of productivity, employee retention and employee happiness.
Information gathered from businesses and employees in the UK revealed that 89% of employees thought flexible working was a key motivation to their productivity, more so than financial incentives. As such having a digital workspace that works well and can easily connect employees with the correct technology from any location is a great tool to have in the arsenal of any organisation. The incorporation of task and project management tools, such as Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Project Online, that can be updated from multiple locations keeping everyone update-to-date with the progress of ongoing projects.
Availability of information
A digital workspace provides centralised places for information to be stored, tools to be located and wider company policy and relevant documentation to be found. Applications like OneNote, OneDrive and SharePoint Online provide hubs where documents, content and information can be found and shared in a simple and coherent manner.
This feature of a digital workspace not only helps employees when working in the office and at home but also when travelling or at client meetings, when access to information has been difficult historically. Providing employees easy access to the tools and data they need to perform their job reduces the time wasted repeatedly looking for information that should be at their fingertips and will inherently increase productivity.
With the introduction of chat-based working tools such as Microsoft Teams the availability of information has now allowed teams within any given organisation to communicate and collaborate together in close quarters, staying connected with chat, calls and meetings. With Office 365 integrations, this digital workspace has in built access to information employees need on a day-to-day basis within one application.
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Employee productivity has been linked to the level of engagement the employees feel, research undertaken by Gallup in 2013 found that companies where employees were highly engaged had 21% increased productivity levels, 22% increased profitability and 10% higher customer rates when compared to companies where employees were not engaged.
The UK’s Institute of Employment Studies recorded that the principal factor in employee engagement was ‘a sense of feeling valued and involved.’ Internal communications have conventionally just been disseminated in dry one-way announcements, like employee newsletters and details from town halls, but with the introduction of DWS this communication has become more natural and encourages a more collaborative approach. Communication tools help to ensure that success stories, on a company and employee level, can be circulated to more people in efficient ways and help employees keep up-to-date with the company and its progression.
Using applications like Yammer and other social media outlets, employees now have the ability to respond to the information they receive from management and also allow them involvement in some of the decision making at the company through polls, surveys and forums. This employee interaction and involvement adds to the employees feeling of engagement and job satisfaction.
A well-built digital workspace is a great advantage to any company and is worth investing in. Research shows that employees that can interact at a higher level with their organisation feel more engaged and are therefore more productive. This higher level of engagement is also coupled with the benefits in productivity that come with the ability to work in a much more flexible way. To ensure that flexible working is achievable digital workspace requires information and technology readily available for employees to find and use.
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