We hear more and more often about Digital Workplace (DWP), but what exactly it means? And how do you design a Digital Workplace?
Adriano Solidoro, Information Systems for Knowledge Management professor at Milano-Bicocca University, helps us to capture its concept.
In a series of articles written for WOW! Webmagazine he explains what we are talking about and summarizes the criteria, characteristics, visions and strategic goals essential for designing an effective DWP.
The first definition of Digital Workplace, in the early ‘90s, is by Jeff Bier (founder of Edge AI & Vision Alliance, industrial partnership that includes over 50 leading technology companies) with the aim of providing engineers with the practical know-how they need to effectively integrate technology into their projects.
Jeff Bier outlined five basic DWP criteria:
1) it promotes the learning and use of new technological tools;
2) it is “contagious” because it promotes the involvement of people from the various organizational functions;
3) it is above geographical barriers because thanks to technology it allows you to work from any place;
4) it is integrated and complete: all communication, data and information must be collected, distributed and accessible;
5) it is connected and spread to all the company’s employees.
Martin White identifies five criteria relating to the impact on the organization:
In 2010, beyond the mere technology dimension, Martin White (CEO of Intranet Focus Ltd., consultant of research strategy and management of corporate information), in the article Digital workplaces: Vision and reality suggests five other criteria to define the DWP:
1) it must be able to adapt to constant changes in organizations;
2) it must provide solutions that comply with laws and rules, respecting the rights of workers and the environment;
3) it promotes creativity by offering an environment and alternative ways of working to stimulate innovation;
4) it must be predictive, grasping in advance the needs of people and organizations.
5) it cannot be defined on the basis of what it is, but rather on what it allows you to do: complete a task, share information and work as part of a team in a totally independently from where people are.
Jellify “phygital” HQ design Workitect.
Jane McConnell defines DWP as an ecosystem of business platforms and services:
Another definition is by the Franco-American analyst Jane McConnell. Following the collection of data around the world in the 2017 report, The Organization in the Digital Age, she outlines a framework that highlights DWP as an ecosystem of platforms and business services that allow people to work, collaborate, communicate, develop services and products to better serve customers, facilitating creativity and innovation, attracting talent and consolidating Employer Branding.
Jane McConnell’s Foundational Framework illustrates the intersection of people, workspaces and technology in the Digital Workplace, where organizational culture, practices, practices and behaviors must also be analyzed for an effective Workplace Design.
Two fundamental dimensions of DWP: the connection between people and “reactive leadership”.
With a similar approach, Kristine Dery and Ina M. Sebastian of the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research with Nick van der Meulen of the University of Amsterdam, in the 2017 article, The Digital Workplace Is Key to Digital Innovation, present the DWP as the the set of physical, cultural and digital provisions that facilitate activities within the complex, dynamic and often unstructured work environment.
Their definition underlines two fundamental dimensions of the DWP: the connection between people and the “reactive leadership”.
The first dimension consists in the degree of interaction that people can have with each other, with customers, with suppliers and partners, with information, knowledge and ideas.
The focus is therefore on digital and physical communication, to be encouraged and facilitated through three factors:
1) the technological factor (which consists in the introduction of the latest technological solutions);
2) the social factor (the culture of collaboration and sharing);
3) the spatial factor (designing open, flexible and activity-based physical spaces, with the aim of supporting collaboration and creating new interpersonal connections).
Ey Wavestpace in Milan, design by DEGW.
While the second dimension refers to the priority given by management to activities focused on the development and continuous improvement of the Employee Experience.
This aspect includes the creation of new policies and behavioral rules that the leadership must promote. The leadership takes on the role of supporting the use of new technologies and innovative approaches thanks to systemic and continuous learning mechanisms, by means of data driven and evidence based management and communication for a successful connection between strategic objectives and Workplace Design.
The next article will be dedicated to Paul Miller’s DWP vision, featured by the preponderance of organizational culture.
Text by Adriano Solidoro ( Information Systems for Knowledge Management professor at Milano -Bicocca University )
Upper photo: Minority Report by Steven Spielberg.
Ey Wavestpace in Milan, design by DEGW.