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Improve your company with a digital workplace solution 

 

What is a digital workplace? Why do companies use it?

In this article, you will discover how to keep up with digitization by making good use of its advantages.

Whether employees are working remotely or in person, having a digital virtual space that reflects the company can have multiple benefits that companies can't do without.

Moreover, you will also find 9 key features suggested by our experts to have a cutting-edge digital workplace solution.

What is a digital workplace?

 

Nowadays, digital transformation is present in every company's reality. 

Present-day companies need to integrate technology with business components, which are required to communicate and cooperate.

This need becomes even more urgent in these times of global pandemic and remote working, where employees need more security and the right tools to work efficiently even from home.

State-of-the-art digital workplace solutions are what companies are employing to rethink how they work, design, and organize themselves with new digital tools.

Meetings call -and why not, even emails- can be entirely replaced by sophisticated collaboration tools also called groupware, especially if we consider that, in 2021, the Internet has become available almost everywhere.

To answer the question of what the digital workplace is, we can say that it is better defined as a tool designed to promote communication, collaboration, and business processes.

Although there are several tools, more or less optimized for this task, the digital workplace platform par excellence for companies has always been the intranet: a business platform that allows you to manage all communication flows -be it collaboration and documentation- in a digitized and centralized way, generating a perfectly synchronized, real-time updated community of employees.

Only 15 years ago, the intranets were simple websites within the company, on which it was only possible to publish internal news. Today, intranets are the most complete and collaborative platforms that provide employees with all the tools they need to use them in a centralized way.

Wiki, blogs, organizational charts, brilliant address books, social comment spaces, discussions, and feedback requests are just some of the tools found on a company's digital workplace platform that has decided to invest in its digitalization. The results of the companies that have made this type of choice are always tangible in terms of time, money, and innovation, as we will see better in this article.

The modern digital workplace solutions can adapt to changes without requiring software development skills and ensure the business processes' total availability (uptime).

The engagement, the sense of belonging, the vision, and the mission of the company are proven to increase progressively when employees can perceive the value of the tools made available by the company.  Moreover, for each activity, employees find an intelligent workspace that can help them -with productive and intuitive tools- find the information they need, putting them in touch with those they want in the shortest time possible.

Today, digital workplace solutions are still a complete tool that provides employees with a digital environment to find information and contribute collaboratively quickly.

The advantages and benefits of having a digital workplace platform

This new digital paradigm of extending the physical office to a digital networking environment has multiple uses.

From saving operating costs to increasing employee satisfaction: it's undeniable that using a digital workplace platform can help companies, especially those that have not yet started their digitalization process.

  • Centralization of information, processes, and permissions

Centralizing these three factors makes the business organization more flexible. It adapts more quickly to the changes dictated by the business or by internal reorganizations or specific projects.

  • Cost reduction

The possibility of using cloud services in SAAS mode with user licenses allows you not to buy -and especially manage- expensive hardware directly.

  • Rationalization of building costs

A digital workplace solution does not prevent the company from growing and developing even without physical spaces. In big cities, office spaces can be costly for a growing company. Moreover, an adequately digitalized company, which can still be functional even though its employees are remote working, can draw on qualified professional figures from all over the world, thus also reducing personnel costs.

  • Increased productivity

Employees with state-of-the-art tools can find, share, and synchronize information more easily.

  • Greater acceleration of innovation

The possibility of exploiting technologies and interactive physical spaces allows the development of faster and more stimulating communications for the generation of ideas.

  • Attractiveness for new talents

Companies that show high levels of innovation and technology are much more attractive to Millennials and, therefore, talents that can bring new value.

 

Which technologies (and tools) are used for a state-of-art digital workplace platform

Without going too deep, the solutions, or rather the tools that are behind the concept of a digital workplace, can be enclosed in 2 distinct areas:

  • The technological environment that constitutes the digital workplace platform. In this case, it can be an On-Premises or Cloud application, a mobile application, or a solution based on the virtualization of the employee's desktop.
  • Collaboration tools, which bring together real-time interaction features between people. In this context, we can find corporate social networks, messaging and video conference platforms, wikis for centralizing the knowledge base, intranets, business documents, and so on...

 

3 new Digital Workplace trends of 2021

Recent trends in digital transformation are increasing the functionalities that digital workplace solutions must have to remain competitive in the market as workshop facilitators for users.

New features are spreading, and that is contributing in a radical way to the evolution of this tool. Here are the top 3 digital workplace trends to watch out for in 2021:

  • Analytics

Data analysis allows system administrators to understand how employees continuously use the digital workplace solution to improve the platform itself. These improvements are not only about the integration of new software features. They also analyze the architecture of business information, assessments, and considerations of the most sought-after documents, which pages are the most viewed, and in which time slots. Modern solutions must provide this data so that the investment made in digitalization is effectively implemented and exploited in the right way.

  • Artificial Intelligence 

AI algorithms can also support employees in their everyday life. For example, AI allows the customization of both information and research for each company member based on their experiences and needs.

  • Virtual Assistants 

Digital workplace platforms also assist employees in their work routine. For example, the employee can request real-time information and receive answers that help save time finding work materials that can be invested in other activities.

What is intranet.ai?

It's a ready-to-use corporate intranet,
designed to reduce costs and implementation time by providing a highly modern and collaborative digital workplace.

  • Starting price is 2450€, for a fully-featured intranet
  • More than 20 App including intelligent search, document management, news, push notifications, and my workplace
  • 100% integrated with SharePoint Online and Microsoft 365

9 distinctive UX features of a good digital workplace platform

If we were to introduce a digital workplace platform in the company, what should we consider adopting a tool focused on the employee experience?

Let's now see 9 features that need to be evaluated to ensure a good user experience (UX) for the employee who will use your digital workplace solution.

1. Simplified user interface

With a confusing user interface, employees cannot effectively access content or data stored on websites. To be intuitive and straightforward, the user interfaces must include the corporate brand to best represent the corporate culture and brand on the digital workplace platform.

This does not mean investing significant sums in graphic customization. Instead, the user interface must be simplified to the maximum, as employees will spend much less time using the tool.

The user interface should have:

  • A relevant and engaging homepage with personalized news
  • Quick links to all intranet functions with a menu or sidebar
  • Notification notices for upcoming conversations or activities
  • A search bar
  • An easy way to publish, share or create new content
  • Intuitive, simple, and creative design

2. Intelligent research

One of the main advantages of a business intranet solution is storing all business and employee information on a single platform.

Without an effective search engine, this wealth of information could be lost. Adding a good search engine will make your modern intranet even more productive.

The research will be quick and will help employees find the people they need to do their job.

A search engine should:

  • Search among the categories that have been "tagged" in the contents to provide the right results
  • Search the list of employees to find people associated with keywords, categories, or skills
  • Search the entire intranet area (documents, files, presentations, profiles, etc.)
  • Allow instructing the search engine to return the most important results according to custom criteria

Discover our solution: Intelligent intranet search

Intelligent intranet seach digital workplace

3. Simplified content creation and management

The driving factor of a digital workplace is that it is user-centered and encourages employees through collaborative and more effective ways of working.

One of the best ways to do this is to give employees space and freedom to create helpful content on the platform. As a result, employees can contribute to a tool that will become useful to themselves and others.

The next step is to train employees and explain to them how to create satisfying content.

All you have to do is provide them with the right technology, appoint the content quality management team members, and let them handle it personally.

The contents that will be published should be:

  • Focused, designed, and managed by the user
  • Short, concise, engaging, and relevant
  • Interactive for the reader (comments, reactions, shares)
  • Consistent with corporate identity and easy-to-create through a designated platform
  • Identified by search keywords
  • Intuitively organized within the intranet.

Discover our solution: Read Company news

4. Personalization of the digital workplace solution

The adopted tool can learn from its users and allows them to publish new content as they wish.

With so many built-in customization options, such as tags for projects and skills, the portal collects what every user wants to see in their digital workplace.

A customizable digital workplace platform is also essential to create the perfect digital work environment for their needs and be productive to the maximum.

Even an intranet that best expresses the concept of digital workplace par excellence should:

  • Allow customization of the user's homepage, links, and content organization
  • Have feature widgets that gather specific content from different areas of the intranet on the individual employee's homepage
  • Have a widget that allows employees to view the most relevant content to what they want to see
  • Allow access only to specific users in case of sensitive or particularly relevant content.

5. Social features

The digital transformation of internal communication is fundamental to digital workplace solutions, and social features make this development possible.

The more efficiently and productively colleagues interact with each other, the better everyone's work will be in a fully digital workplace solution.

The social features of the intranet include, for example:

  • Modern social features such as comments, recognitions, etc.
  • Integration with other sharing platforms already in use
  • Easy-to-create and share multimedia content
  • Mobile applications and functions for continuous connections
  • Forums and chat rooms for discussions.

6. Employee experience

On the digital workplace platform, employee satisfaction and experience must be the center of attention.

We are witnessing a passage measuring the success of the tools adopted by the most complicated knowledge translation to the most qualitative and narrative feedback.

That means that the software used for the digital workplace solution should have integrated comment/feedback options for employees whenever possible.

Creating an organized system for managing this continuous content, containing employee problems, and making the tool they want becomes much more accessible.

Having a medium with built-in feedback options means:

  • To include feedback functions in company emails or messages, or refer to the complete history of the intranet, which employees can change
  • To create social areas where employees can express their opinions on specific topics
  • To conduct regular surveys to assess employee's satisfaction with intranet usability
  • To implement a management or organization system to track feedbacks

7. Delegated administrative management

Effective digital workspace solutions allow employees to become the administrators of specific sections or content, albeit at a basic level.

This relieves the workload of the IT department and shares the responsibility for an increasingly successful intranet within the team.

The choice of simple administrative tasks that can be easily delegated to employees will improve the use of the company intranet and its overall maintenance.

In addition to managing administrative tasks, employees should also have a space to coordinate the activities of the various projects.

In this way, it helps them to productively organize the work in progress on the digital workspace.

The areas of activity should:

  • Provide links to tools employees need to do the job
  • Include basic "instructions" for simple and uniform business procedures
  • Managing the website content of individual departments
  • Include workflows or timing
  • Connect employees working on the same project.

 

8. Document sharing and content

A designated space is essential to allow employees to share relevant content and documents.

An area where employees create and share content, organized by area or project, encourages collaboration and easy access to useful documents.

Work portals should include:

  • A space for employees to create and share files in every department
  • Quick access to the most useful and used files
  • Tools for sharing documents within a single project or a specific initiative
  • A way to let other colleagues know about new content

Discover our solution: Discover Company documents

9. 100% Mobile friendly and access anywhere the digital workplace platform

Needless to say, this aspect represents a must-have.

The solution adopted as a corporate digital workplace must be able to connect employees from all over the world, wherever they are, and potentially at any time. This way they can remain always connected with the work activities and with the various conversations.

Digital workplace solutions that also support mobile devices must also be able to send push notifications to make sure that employees see updates or crucial information in real-time in their digital environment.

Your app should provide:

  • Full access to the system from the employee's mobile device
  • Ability to save content to be able to work offline
  • Intuitive, responsive, and easy to view interface for small screens
  • Notifications are sent to mobile devices by management to update employees 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Microsoft 365 offers different Digital Workplace tools

Distance in work is no longer an obstacle when supported by instruments that amplify communication more than presence would.

Microsoft 365 digital workplace is the solution that currently covers the largest market share worldwide and that allows access to innovative and efficient tools for business performance.

Let’s see what tools it makes available, within his subscription, to implement the tools needed for a digital workplace.

New opportunities with Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is the on-cloud platform created by Microsoft, sold in SaaS mode, with costs defined according to the number of user licenses purchased. Microsoft 365 (formerly called Office 365) provides tools designed and built to increase productivity and collaboration in the workplace.

In addition to the work-related applications, Microsoft 365 provides a safe place for your business data, as they are stored and centralized on the cloud, accessible with proper permissions only.

Among the myriad of applications included in the Microsoft 365 subscription, let’s see the most suitable tools for realizing a company's digital workplace.

Sharepoint Online

Sharepoint is the tool that allows the company to create internal sites conforming to corporate branding easily. It also allows creating content that the organization needs to show its employees to involve it in internal dynamics fully. Thus, it is the instrument par excellence used in the realization of corporate digital workplace and intranet. With specific vertical applications, Sharepoint becomes the most complete and most adopted tool for SMEs and large companies.

Read also: What Sharepoint is and how it helps companies

Opportunities with Sharepoint

To better understand what Sharepoint offers you, here are some of the things you can do with it:

  • create, modify and manage your communication portal for the entire corporate population, departmental sites or sites of specific work teams, documents, and spaces within the company, offering unique and modern collaborative solutions
  • Users can find all the most essential and up-to-date company news, such as scheduled events and alerts. They can quickly move to all the sources of interest or to the digital services that the company makes available to them
  • the platform stimulates teamwork. You can safely share files, documents, and information with the entire company and its teams within the organization and externally and on different devices.

Microsoft Teams for Companies

Communication and collaboration take on even stronger connotations with Microsoft Teams.

The tool boosts team activities between both teams of the same department and different departments and users outside the company if they are granted permission.

It brings together information such as project materials, conversations, and apps in a single application that always ensures synchronization of all tasks.

The tool is perfectly integrated with all other Microsoft 365 applications such as Planner, Onenote, and Sharepoint Online.

Microsoft Teams: the opportunities

Here are some possible actions that the company can carry out with Teams:

  • For example, you can chat, and video call all internal and external employees of the company.
  • Employees can participate in group talks and be part of channels depending on the work projects.
  • Files are shared with all team members so that they can collaborate synchronously.
  • An intelligent system of push notifications brings the company communication present in the intranet portal directly to the employee.
  • Teams help conduct webinars, online presentations, and live events for up to 10 thousand participants, for 4 hours, and with the possibility of running 15 simultaneous ones.

Read also: Microsoft Teams, all the news of 2021

Yammer: the corporate social network

Designed to bring people together, especially if they work in different places or at different times, the platform gives employees the opportunity to easily receive information from their colleagues, help others and share knowledge in the company, which is the heart of all business realities.

Read also: Yammer: a social network for companies

Employees can share messages or questions, from which to generate entire discussions necessary to carry out their work, find specific content, learn more about business life and, consequently, increase their engagement.

With Yammer, corporate culture is perceived with much more intensity, generating a strong sense of belonging to the organization.

This is essential to ensure that employees are not passive spectators of company life but naturally contribute to its evolution.

One Drive: the secure cloud for businesses

In addition to Microsoft Sharepoint Online, Onedrive for Business is an online storage space where you can share and collaborate files.

Strong points of Onedrive

The main strong points of Onedrive are the synchronization and compatibility between the many platforms.

It allows you to create files on your PC and edit them on your tablet or smartphone, saving all changes made.

Onedrive is compatible with Windows Phone, Android, iOS, and even with Xbox.

It allows the employee to access the same file from any device, without having to send it by email or save it on a memory stick.

In addition, it displays changes in real-time and allows access to all previous versions of the same document.

To sum up, Onedrive for Business brings colleagues together and enables them to collaborate on documents using a corporate account.

With Onedrive for Business each member of the organization’s team has their own storage space (from 1 TB to unlimited storage space per user, based on the acquired Microsoft 365 license type).

Are you ready to take your company to another level?

Taking advantage of Microsoft 365, we realized the best quality/price ratio to have a personalized Digital Workplace platform in the company.

Ask for our demo and find out how intranet.ai can help you tailor what you need for your business. Our solutions are ready with 10% of the time and budget required compared to other competitive solutions.

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Giuseppe Marchi

Microsoft MVP for SharePoint and Office 365 (now called Microsoft 365) since 2010, Giuseppe founded Dev4Side and intranet.ai with the aim of helping companies to have a simpler and more effective working environment thanks to Microsoft technologies. He works as a consultant for everything related to collaboration, intranet portals and Microsoft cloud platforms.