The New Digital Workplace: 7 Essential Components

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on May 11, 2021
iXMS Workplace Technology Assessment

Right now, your organization is navigating a new digital workplace — one that’s at the crossroads between virtual and physical work environments. 

You’re trying to determine the best way to give employees the flexibility they’ve come to expect after more than a year of working at home while recognizing the importance of the office as a place for establishing a strong company culture, supporting collaboration, and attracting new talent.

To achieve the right balance, you need these seven digital workplace components. 

7 essential digital workplace components

1. Cloud-based software

The pandemic was a huge catalyst for organizations to digitize more of their customer interactions, employee collaboration, and business processes.  Eighty-five percent of global companies accelerated digital transformation in the past year, according to a McKinsey survey of 800 executives. 

For most, that meant implementing cloud-based software to manage everything from file-sharing and team projects to facility maintenance. 

Cloud-based software is easier to implement and more cost-effective than on-premise solutions. It’s also easier to upgrade and easier to use anywhere. 

2. Technology that supports hybrid meetings  

In a hybrid workplace, employees spend some days in the office and some days working remotely. To bridge the gap between the virtual and physical work environments, workplaces need the right meeting technology. That includes:

  • A good video conferencing platform
  • High-resolution webcams and lighting
  • High-quality conference room speakers that can detect who is speaking
  • Meeting scheduling software to make it easy for employees to reserve rooms anywhere

In the near future, more advanced meeting solutions that incorporate augmented reality will make remote employees feel like they’re actually in the room. 

3. Mobile apps

 A digital workplace cannot thrive unless employees have instant access to information wherever they are. When employees can easily see the data they need in real time, it helps teams work as one cohesive unit, improving efficiency. Mobile apps also connect them to each other and help them navigate the office environment. This is especially important if your workplace has implemented flexible seating arrangements like activity-based working or desk hoteling. 

Workplace apps that make it easy for employees to find people and places, reserve desks, request service, and receive mail, visitors, or important information are now essential for many organizations. 

59% of corporate real estate leaders plan to introduce mobile apps to help employees navigate their buildings more efficiently. 

-CBRE Americas Occupier Survey, 2018

4. IoT sensors

The Internet of Things (IoT) connects people, places and things and enables the exchange of data over a network. Digital workplaces can use IoT sensors to monitor occupancy, help employees quickly find and reserve available workspaces, make cleaning more efficient, and gather valuable data into how people use the space. 

This makes it easier for you to make adjustments that improve the employee experience and reduce costs. 

For example, if you notice a particular conference room is consistently vacant, you can investigate why. You might discover that room lacks the same technology other rooms have or it’s too large for the average meeting size in your workplace. You might decide to update it or convert that large room into two smaller ones to improve utilization. And you can send someone to a currently unoccupied area to restock supplies or maintain building systems.  Sensors allow you to perform operational tasks without disturbing employees, improving productivity.

5. Data security

Though critical to the digital workplace, allowing employees to access information remotely does open the door to security risks. Managed cloud computing is one way to combat these risks. Managed cloud services give companies the benefits of cloud computing (specifically, data security and reliability) without having to hire in-house system administrators. Managed cloud computing also helps provide peace of mind to employees and clients, while still enabling on-demand data access.

“Businesses that will be successful in the future will be those that break down the barriers between people, workplaces and technologies and empower their employees to be productive and creative wherever they are.”
—Klaus Holse (CEO, SimCorp)

Involving your IT department in the process of vetting any third-party digital workplace solutions also helps you ensure data security. Any technology you implement needs to meet specific criteria for data security. 

6. Exceptional office design

Although most employees haven’t been in the office in the past year, the majority are eager to return. However, they don’t necessarily want to go back to sitting at the same desk for eight hours a day, five days a week.

Space planning and space design in this new era both require some additional considerations, including more attention to employee safety and comfort. For instance, you may need to increase the distance between workspaces or limit capacity in certain common areas, like huddle spaces or breakrooms. 

Modern office design should also include plenty of natural light, barriers to minimize office noise, comfortable seating, and elements from the outdoors if possible. Originally, an open-plan office layout consisted of installing rows of identical desks with the goal of packing as many employees into one place as possible. In the 1950s, Quickborner, a German design group, introduced the concept of Bürolandschaft (“office landscape”) to foster a more interactive workspace.

Today, creating inspiring spaces for collaboration is just as important. 

How does this relate to the digital workplace? Using space management software, you can quickly see up-to-date information on space availability and utilization, allowing you to build an environment optimized for employee engagement—for example, creating collaborative workspaces. 

7. Flexible workplace policies

To be effective in the digital workplace, employees need trust and clear expectations. A remote work policy helps your company and employees by clearly outlining those expectations. This includes:

  • Who is permitted to work remotely, and when
  • Whether they need to notify someone if working remotely
  • When employees are expected to be available
  • How employees should communicate in the digital workplace
  • When employees are expected to be in the office (such as for training, client meetings, or events)

Having a written policy ensures managers will apply the rules fairly.  It also reduces the risk of burnout by defining the boundaries between when an employee’s workday ends and when their free time begins.

Technology is one of the most essential digital workplace components, but it isn’t the only one. Creating an efficient digital workspace also requires a thorough understanding of how employees are using the technology. 

Evaluate your digital workplace 

The digital workplace components you need most will evolve with advancements in technology and the needs of your employees. By building a solid foundation that includes these elements, you’ll be ready for anything that comes next. 

First, look for a cloud-based integrated workplace management system (IWMS) that connects easily with IoT sensors,  mobile apps, and any technology you already use to manage your buildings and operations. 

Be sure it has robust data analytics and meets your IT team’s security requirements. It should also be easy for employees to use, whether they’re in the office or working remotely. 

How do your digital workplace solutions stack up? Take our five-minute workplace technology assessment to find out. You’ll receive a detailed report with your score and recommendations on how to improve. 


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

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