The benefits of cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools such as O365 or G-Suite have been made crystal clear by the recent shift to remote working. Without them many firms would have been in trouble when the lockdown hit.

This realisation of just how wonderful these tools can be was happening anyway, but the crisis gave this shift a good kick in the right direction, speeding up the process of senior management buy-in, implementation and adoption.

So now, after having no choice but to get on the bandwagon, most firms are happily using these tools every day and it’s time to kick back and enjoy this fancy new “Digital Workplace”, right?

Not quite.

As helpful as they are, these tools are just the beginning of the digital workplace journey. They are the enablers for a much larger transformation, much like the steam engine – which although a useful tool in itself – was the enabler for the industrial revolution.

If these tools are just the start, what’s next?

The very first step of any digital workplace journey should be strategy creation, setting out the opportunities & challenges, guiding policies and coherent actions for your digital workplace journey.  However, understandably this step may have been skipped when implementing the required digital tools. In which case, taking a step back and creating a coherent digital workplace strategy that aligns with the business strategy should be the number 1 priority.

Pushing ahead without a strategy means not knowing where you’re going or how to get there and will inevitably lead to a lot of wasted time, money and effort.

Creating a Digital Workplace Strategy

Strategy creation is not easy.

Answering the first question: “What are the opportunities and challenges in the context of digital workplace?”  is not straight forward.

A truly digital workplace requires an overhaul of the very fabric of an organisation. It’s not just about technology. Organisation & management frameworks, document & knowledge management processes, operational resilience, employee behaviours & cultural norms and real estate strategy are all in scope, and are just the tip of the iceberg. Right down to the psychological contract between the employee and the firm, digital changes everything.

Now is the Time

It might sound like a lot to think about after just steering the organisation around (or charging straight through) the iceberg that is Covid-19, but now is the time, the lull before the next storm, the time that many will look back on as the time they should have taken action, but faltered and therefore face an uphill battle to catch up.

Steve Jobs said in 1998 after returning as Apple CEO: “I am going to wait for the next big thing.” And created the iPod and iTunes store a few years later. But we don’t have to wait, the next big thing is right now, right in front of us….

Ben Crighton

Ben Crighton

Senior Consultant

Seize this opportunity, start identifying the opportunities and challenges of your digital workplace and if you already have a fit-for-purpose strategy in place, make sure your operating model is the right vehicle to deliver you to the destination. If you wait until you’re forced into action by the next crisis, it’ll be too late.