Top 10 basic and the most frequently asked questions for you to get acquainted with the universe of the digital workplace.

What is a digital workplace?

A digital workplace is a ground for optimizing work processes, document exchange, and communication between a certain group of people (usually, it’s employees of a company, a group of companies, as well as, in some cases, a company and its customers).

What is the difference between a digital workplace, intranet, and corporate social media?

There is a great article on the difference between a digital workplace and an intranet from the Unily team that you can read here: Digital Workplaces Vs. Intranets – What’s The Difference?

However, here we want to speak about the difference based on our experience with several platforms and solutions.

A digital workplace is for all the tools your company has for its employees. Ideally, a digital workplace is not one site or network but a set of tools that can be presented by different platforms. However, we can’t help but tell you about Microsoft Office 365 which is one of the best complex solutions for your digital workplace as it unites a bunch of products for various purposes your company has. Nevertheless, many people see a digital workplace as a modern name for most corporate business process solutions. Well, it has some sense as, today, the vast majority of the platforms can provide most of the needed functionality (at least on some basic level) out of the box or has the API for such customizations.

Intranet (literally internal network) is mainly considered to be the entrance point for the corporate database, the source of mostly static documentation. So this is lesser about one-to-one communication and more about company-to-employees communication. The platforms for intranets are usually the best in document generating and storing functionality. They have employee directory functionality, support many types of content, and let you pay much attention to the corporate branding to make it look more like the site of your company.

Corporate social media is about communication in all its forms (employee-to-employee, corporate-to-employee, manager-to-employee, etc.). Corporate social media is about sharing live information in the form of news, videos, and chitchat. So it is expected that the platforms for such purposes pay more attention to communication functionality. We are talking about direct messaging, chats, easy to use RTE for creating quick posts.

Nonetheless, today, most platforms can unite all the features under one digital “roof”.

What is a digital workplace for?

A digital workplace is for all the tools your company needs to provide a sufficient level of:

  • information availability;
  • the opportunity to feel one’s self a part of the company through the news;
  • awareness of the main corporate value and goals;
  • accessibility for all the users (including people with any disabilities);
  • communication availability;
  • transparency of working conditions;
  • support;
  • interaction with management;
  • professional and personal growth;
  • fun, leisure, and hobbies support.

Why do you need a digital workplace?

We believe that the list above justifies the necessity of getting a digital workplace pretty well but we will add two more reasons: so that your employees will like you even more, and so that your company will save tons of money. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

How can one choose a solution for a digital workplace?

As you can see, there is no one best decision because every company is unique and has unique needs. So our advice is to think over the following points and ask for additional help from professional vendors:

  • Do you want your digital workplace to be internal or provide access for external users?
  • How many users do you expect to have?
  • Which types of interaction are crucial for you?
  • How fast do you need your digital workplace to be ready?
  • What budget do you expect to have for the launch?
  • What budget do you expect to have for support?
  • What are your goals for business purposes optimization?
  • What are your favorite apps and sites (based on UI/UX)?

Even if you have no idea what the answers to the questions above are, it is not a problem. We are happy to help you to choose the solution, get the discount, deploy, customize, and support your community and your employees.

What is a good digital workplace?

The most general answer is a digital workplace that satisfies all company needs from the list above (see the question “What is a digital workplace for?”). If be more specific, a good digital workplace can fulfill the requirements of your company. A good digital workplace is one where you don’t have to make compromises for the functionality important to you. You should remember that the perfect digital workplace does not exist. You will have to make compromises but you need to choose a list of important things for your company that needs to work well in your digital workplace and stick to them when choosing the solution. So as you see, there is no one universal formula for a good digital workplace.

Who does not need a digital workplace?

We can say that today any company needs at least some kind of digital workplace but it directly depends on what you decide to understand by the “digital workplace” concept. Let’s say that if you understand the “digital workplace” concept as a certain minimum necessary condition for sufficiently optimized and digitized work of employees, then, you probably already have it. If you see a digital workplace as a solution to optimize business processes, save the company’s money, and strengthen the position of the HR brand by creating the most comfortable working conditions for employees through mobility, accessibility, and interest in operational activities, then, you need to work on that additionally.

If you have a team of more than 50 people and your team does not sit in one office all the time, you need a digital workplace solution.

If you have less than 50 people, we believe you can cover most of your everyday needs with some apps like Slack and Jira, or even have Google services that will work great for you. Nonetheless, it totally depends on the types of activity your team has on an everyday basis.

How much does a digital workplace cost?

It depends on many factors such as:

  • Platform you choose
  • The time you have to prepare and launch your digital workplace
  • If you hire an outsourced development team
  • How many user licenses you want to buy
  • How many additional services you want to buy for your digital workplace
  • How many custom functionality you want to develop
  • If you want to have your development team support your digital workplace after the launch
  • How big your community management team is going to be
  • If you want to apply for awards for your digital workplace and HR brand.
  • Etc.

Can one launch a digital workplace without a development team?

Well, you need a team to launch and support a digital workplace. It’s just about where this team comes from. You can gather a team of employees in your company. You can hire a vendor to do all the work. You can go with the platform in which the owner company offers services for deployment, launch, and support for their solutions. There are some platforms that are pretty easy to launch but they are not solutions for a digital workplace, they are usually more of a corporate social media or a very basic intranet. To sum up, we strongly recommend working with a development team 🙂

What are bad practices for a digital workplace?

There are no universally good or bad digital workplaces. However, there are good and bad practices for such. As for the good ones, we believe they were mostly covered by the questions above. As for the bad ones, let’s briefly discuss them here.

  • Bad practices are mostly about inflexible and intricate platforms. If you constantly hear complaints about your digital workplace, you should go deeper into these complaints and get the details of what bothers users the most.
  • Making your employees use the digital workplace just to support its life to justify the existence of this digital workplace is a bad practice. A digital workplace is for making people’s lives easier, not for the sake of the budget you spent on it.
  • A digital workplace overwhelmed with functionality is a bad practice too. Too much of a good thing is a case, and you should avoid such a scenario. If you want to make everyone happy, you risk making everyone annoyed. For example, you want to make a lot of small widgets with similar functionality but different settings to help group admins set up group pages faster. Sounds nice but you risk generating a list of dozens of widgets that will appear for every admin on every page. If your platform has a search for available widgets, that probably will not be a problem but if it doesn’t, people will get mad at you for your efforts.
  • No functionality at all is bad too. If you want users to like using the digital workplace you should invest in it. You can’t expect them to be delighted with out-of-the-box functionality only. So if you have a small budget, be reasonable and make one or two good flexible custom functionality items but make them good. People will be glad to have at least some customizations. Also, you can pay attention to gamification. Good gamification can make anything better 🙂

Natalia Scherbina

Author Natalia Scherbina

Project manager, Tech Lead, QA

More posts by Natalia Scherbina

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