The column dedicated to the design of the Digital Workplace, written by Adriano Solidoro (professor of Information Systems for Knowledge Management) continues.
DWP is a complex entity that includes both the physical and the digital environment; after the first article that analyzes the definitions and the basic criteria of the DWP, this article deepens the aspects related to management, organizational culture and the holistic and human centered vision.
The aspect of organizational culture is predominant in the article published by Harvard Business Review, How to create a digital workplace (2016), in which Paul Miller, founder and CEO of the Digital Workplace Group (partnership of consultancy companies, private companies and public institutes for the workplace design) defines the DWP by three main characteristics:
1) DWP is not a place, as the work can be carried out in different places, environments and times every day;
2) the Workplace is digital, not physical;
3) productivity is measured on the objectives achieved not on presence in the workplace, and therefore requires a results-based culture and management rather than process-based.
In the manual, Digital Workplace Strategy & Design: A step-by-step guide to an empowering employee experience, Berg and Gustafsson define the DWP as an environment to be designed with a targeted and holistic approach that puts the user at the center.
They also argue the need not to excessively focus on technology, but it is essential to analyse and understand the entire work environment from the person’s point of view, in order to design a stimulating Workplace: this requires a common organizational strategy in defining spaces, as well as coordination and control.
Another interesting contribution is that by Susan P. Williams and Petra Schubert of the University of Koblenz-Landau (in Germany),in the article Designs for the Digital Workplace they examine the definitions of Digital Workplace mostly used by professionals and scholars.
The analysis led to highlighting fifteen common features of the DWP, grouped into three categories (see table) :
1) organizational strategy and design;
2) people and work;
3) the technological platform
The first category, identifies DWP as a coordinated, planned and future-oriented organizational strategy.
DWP is defined a coordinated strategy because it must be planned and designed in accordance with other corporate management strategies and the most important regulations (laws protecting employees and the storage of data and information, for example).
It must be designed to provide both the right comfort and the conditions to allow the development of the technological platform in order to support collaborative and flexible work.
The DWP is therefore at the intersection of people, organization and technology, and is flexible and capable of adapting to the organization’s new requirements and future technologies.
By reviewing the definition, it is highlighted that the concept of Digital Workplace is still too evolving to be defined precisely and definitively.
The DWP is an entity not easy to enclose as it includes both the physical and the digital environment, with all the opportunities but also the critical issues that this entails.
In the next article, we will analyze the better design approaches, strategies and methodologies ato ensure that the Workplace meets the necessary requirements and brings value to the company and people’s daily experience in the digital age.
Text by Adriano Solidoro, Information Systems for Knowledge Management professor at Milano -Bicocca University.