Successful strategies for a Digital Workplace

By Alexander Klier By Jeffrey Backus Jan 23, 2015
Successful strategies for a Digital Workplace

Translation of the Original Article by Alexander Klier


Despite all discussions and many efforts, we still do not notice any substantial successes regarding a Social Collaboration and a Digital Workplace at the end of 2014. This is easy to explain, but hard to change. It is explainable, because no company is taking the necessary and most of all comprehensive steps. Although the “marketing” of individual initiatives can be observed, a holistic approach by the companies is rarely seen. Even more problematic is that the necessary redesign and development of work processes is often established as phony construct to existing structures in the sense of collaborative cooperation - and therefore has little effect. But without the necessary cultural change the employees will accept neither a social collaboration, nor the digital workplace. Responsible for this is often that the interlocking of jobs, the networking of the stakeholders and the linking to the company’s core processes is not being performed.

Ssmall-small instead of coherently

A typical problem usually has to do with the design of the interfaces. For example, interfaces that are necessary for adding value are not included in the change process. But communicative, collaborative, and innovative interfaces also need to be integrated. The biggest challenge for this type of networking and linking is to overcome "old" behaviors and pure habits. To address and break this up in a real change remains the most pressing task. Another point why there is no clear broad transformation is that Organizations drive many small initiatives, but these are seldom fully recognized, to, for example enable an exchange and mutual learning processes. In other words: Often the different initiatives do not even know each other. Thus, there is no common ground for cooperation. It is a big challenge, but also a necessary step that all initiatives and projects are merged strategically and in the senses of corporate development. Further it is enormously important that the issues be tackled integrative. As already repeatedly mentioned, social collaboration is a method and behavior that enables the Digital Workplace in the first place. The strategy should therefore be that I plan a Digital Workplace extensively, both at the level of the individual, as well as at the level of the organization. This planning not only has to include the infrastructure and the tools (Hardware, Software, Accesses, etc.), but it must also be ensured that the digital workplace owners’ willingness for application and implementation exist, is encouraged and is required.

Go with the flow…

Successes are relatively fast achievable in the field of communication and collaboration by massive promotion of self-organization and simplifying of communicative processes. They not only show the participants that their involvement is crowned with success. But also that in certain business processes short-term results can be achieved by methods and techniques of social collaboration. Particularly noteworthy here are Sales, Purchasing and Marketing. In terms of consultation of information inputs or of working together obvious successes can soon be illustrated. On the other hand, a comprehensive change, as presupposed by the Digital Workplace takes a lot of time. Here you have to go with the flow, and to make the short-term positive changes felt in order to turn them into a motivation for the medium to long-term transformation. Not only should the existing generally be questioned for this, but also for example to emphasize on what is already going well and soon will be commonplace. Additionally every innovative idea should be taken up and be linked to good practice or be associated to processes that are to be changed.

… and include all participants

One of the main challenges is to involve all the necessary processes. And this means not to just present the affected people with the final facts or fully implemented Social Collaboration Platforms, but from the beginning to talk to the employees about how their processes will look, which communities could be established if necessary, and most of all how they can be enabled to proactively shape the process. In quite a few companies, this also applies to their work councils. From the outset they are to be included in the projects, because only then can they possibly be made key players who not only accept the transformation to digital workplaces, but also actively promote it. Precisely because the participation offers many opportunities for employees.

Five milestones on the road to success

In our view, there are five important steps to introduce a high-performance collaboration. As milestones, they are also success factors for the establishment of digital workplaces.

  1. An establishment of the Social Work Environments.
  2. An individual strategy aligned to the company and its value creation processes.
  3. Analysis and various evaluation procedures for determining the goal.
  4. A Change focusing on Communication, Capability and Participation.
  5. Measure, assess and if necessary adjust or enter the process again.