Are You Ready for the Digital Workplace?

For many people, the workday doesn’t have a set beginning or end time and the workplace isn’t always a physical destination. You may be one of those people. Do you drink your morning coffee while electronically catching up on your laptop or other device? Did you do the same before you went to bed last night (sans coffee)?

Today, you can video chat with colleagues around the world before heading into the office, or conduct meetings during your morning commute. Or maybe you’re one of the growing number of folks like me who no longer has a morning commute at all. Today, the workplace doesn’t have to be a place at all—it can be wherever you are; the digital workplace is the new norm. But, does it inspire you to do your best work?

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The Death of the Water Cooler as a Gathering Place

The cubicle, conference room and water cooler are making way for digital environments that are no less real than the physical spaces they’ve replaced. After all, our basic human needs don’t fly out the window just because we turned that spare bedroom into an office. We still crave connection and want to experience the spark that comes when we’re creating and collaborating with others. We yearn to be valued and to contribute. The challenge for employers in this new world is to create virtual spaces that satisfy those needs and more.

The tools we use are important, of course—they make it possible. Today, meetings can happen from anywhere with a single click and even those drop-by conversations with coworkers can be replicated with a messaging app. And does anyone even remember a time before email? There is still something missing though.

The physical workplace is carefully crafted to encourage behavior and convey many things. From the presence and assistance of colleagues to the layout of our offices, is meant to inspire us. In a 2003 survey by Management Today magazine97 percent of respondents said they regarded their place of work as a symbol of whether or not they were valued by their employer.

How does a business replicate those kinds of intangibles in a digital environment?

Creating a Culture in the Digital Workplace

The workplace isn’t a collection of tools then—it is an experience. To be successful, the digital workplace must be an experience as well. How does that happen? Enter the humble intranet. Originally designed to augment the workplace, it now has the opportunity be much more. But we need to think about it differently. This isn’t the simple facelift many organizations are conducting. This is seeing its purpose in a whole new light. These interactive intranets need to address the needs of employees longing for work-life balance and forward-thinking employers who strive to provide an experience that connects everyone in their business.

When I talk about the interactive intranet, this is what I refer to—a way to surface your organization in a whole new way. It transcends physical structures, yet still fulfills the human desires to connect, contribute and feel valued. It’s time to reevaluate how we think about intranets. So, look at your own intranet. What do you see?


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Kathryn Everest

Kathryn Everest is Jive's Director of Strategy Consulting, specializing in helping Jive customers be successful. Kathryn has over 20 years’ experience consulting to leading organizations, helping them improve collaboration and social networking within enterprises, between enterprises and with their customers. Kathryn focuses on producing measurable business results for her clients by identifying and then helping to successfully execute their Social Business initiatives. Kathryn brings a perspective of collaboration from multiple sectors, including pharmaceutical, healthcare, legal, government, insurance, financial, professional services, manufacturing, education and utilities. Kathryn is an experienced practitioner in the areas of communities of practice, knowledge management, social network analysis, cultivating collaborative cultures, and leveraging social networks for business benefits. Kathryn is also a speaker at the Queens School of Business and Ivey Business School on the topics of Knowledge Management, Communities of Practice, and social networks and is on the Steering Committee of the Monieson Centre at the Queens School of Business, and a member of the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation’s committee on Knowledge Mobilization.

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    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

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