The future of work Christopher SmithApril 26, 2021

Is Your Workplace Digitizing? [A Digital Workplace FAQ]

Is Your Workplace Digitizing? [A Digital Workplace FAQ]

Is your workplace digitizing?

With the advent of technology, everything has gone digital.

Workplaces, too, are going digital, and it’s not hard to see why – the performance gains from going digital are enormous. In fact, digital is no longer an option and companies that fail to keep up won’t be able to participate in the digital economy.

Yet not all companies are keeping up with the curve.

In this article, we’ll learn what workplace digitization is, how it can improve your organization’s performance, how to get started, and more.

How is Your Workplace Digitizing? [A Digital Workplace FAQ]

A digital workplace is a one that embeds technology into the very fabric of the work environment. 

In a digital workplace, workflows, jobs, and cultures are built around technology.

While many business leaders recognize the need to digitize their work environments, not everyone understands exactly what the digital workplace is.

Below, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions around workplace digitization, starting with the most basic:

What is workplace digitization?

Workplace digitization means different things to different people, but often focuses on areas such as:

  • Transitioning from analog assets and tools to digital ones
  • Adopting digital tools and using them to their fullest extent
  • Embedding digital workflows into everyday business processes
  • Embracing a digital mindset and a positive attitude towards technology

Naturally, digitizing the workplace takes time, effort, and money, so many business leaders are hesitant to overhaul their work environments. 

Yet there are distinct benefits.

As everyone knows, for instance, working from home became ubiquitous during 2020. Those companies that were more digitized than their peers had a better chance of maintaining stable operations during that tumultuous time.

Organizational resilience, as we’ll see next, is an important benefit of workplace digitization – yet it is only one among many.

Why should you be digitizing your workplace?

If you’re not using technology to its fullest extent, you could be losing a competitive edge in the marketplace.

After all, digital workplaces are more:

  • Efficient
  • Effective
  • Agile
  • Resilient
  • Innovative

On top of these productivity gains, it should be remembered that the workplace naturally affects employee metrics, such as:

Ultimately, digitizing the workplace can boost employees’ performance, the organization’s performance, and, as a consequence, other areas, such as the customer experience and the company’s competitive position.

How can you digitize your workplace?

The first thing to do is to set goals, then work backwards and develop a plan to achieve those goals.

Each organization’s workplace digitization strategy will therefore be different. 

Commonly, however, the focus will be on:

  • Shifting from analog to digital tools and assets
  • Employee training
  • Automating business processes
  • Simplifying the digital employee experience
  • Cultivating a digital workplace culture
  • Aligning the workplace with the company’s digital strategy

For best results, it is important to let a cross-functional team of leaders, managers, and employees lead the efforts.

The digitization and digital transformation of the workplace impacts multiple business areas, after all, so these digitization efforts should be led by multiple parties.

Since CIOs are increasingly becoming strategists and transformational leaders, for instance, they are often being asked to lead digital transformation efforts, including cultural transformation efforts, as Gartner has pointed out.

Securing commitment from IT leaders, therefore, should be a top priority.

How can business leaders partner with the IT department?

Here are a few ways that business leaders and change advocates can improve buy-in and support from IT units:

  • Make a business case for the value of integrating IT with the rest of the business
  • Make sure that the IT team is aware of the organization’s priorities and the role that technology plays in organizational change, growth, and performance
  • Establish a dialogue with other senior leaders on the topic of workplace digitization
  • Work with IT teams to establish policies, procedures, protocols, and a culture that is digital-first

It’s important for every department to get on the same page as IT. If everyone can speak the same language and if everyone shares the same goals, it will be much easier to implement change. 

At the same time, it is crucial to implement a structured approach to change management, by, for instance, following change frameworks such as Kotter’s 8-step change model.

Digitization vs. digital transformation – what’s the difference?

Finally, it’s important to touch on the issue of semantics.

Technically, digitization and digital transformation mean different things, so it is useful to know difference between these two concepts:

Digitization is the process of using digital processes to transform analog assets and processes into digital formats. Email, for instance, has replaced fax around the world. Physical records are often being replaced by digital records. 

Digital transformation means using digital technology to transform the way organizations operate. This can mean using technology to create new forms of value, enhancing the customer experience, improving performance, and more.

The difference is a technicality, and many use the term interchangeably. 

But it is worth understanding the difference – especially when it comes to workplace digitization, since in this discussion, digitization and digital transformation are often conflated.

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