Keeping employees connected has always been important for businesses. Technology has become a key tool in assisting with communication in recent years. But in the post-pandemic world, the way colleagues connect with each other is changing, and our workplaces need to keep up.
So, what does a truly modern workplace look like, and how can we use technology to build this?
The rise of the modern digital workplace
The last two years have forced many businesses to take a closer look at their workplaces. As people have shifted to remote and hybrid working, digital workspaces are more important to them than ever. Many new starters have not even been able to visit their offices. This not only affects overall productivity and collaboration, but company culture also begins to suffer.
This doesn’t end with the pandemic though. In the UK 85% of employees who currently work from home want businesses to adopt hybrid working practices – allowing them to split their time between homeworking and their usual place of work. Businesses need to start looking at flexible working models, where their employees’ experience is the same no matter where they log in from.
Employee experience is shaped by way organisations communicate and collaborate, and the technology we use plays an important role in this. Not just in terms of functionality, but also engagement. If technology is not fit for purpose and if its implementation hasn’t been accompanied by adequate change management, low adoption is a significant risk.
Hybrid working: how far behind are businesses?
The sudden switch to remote working in 2020 saw businesses across the globe make reactionary changes to their workplaces. But at many organisations, these were seen as temporary solutions until things became normal again.
As we enter 2022, it’s clear that hybrid and remote working are the new normal. These alterations to workplaces have become part of long-term plans for many businesses.
But where are the hybrid working pitfalls for businesses?
Bringing office spaces up to date
Hybrid working doesn’t just concern the remote side of things. Physical office spaces also need to be considered. While many businesses have taken the opportunity to reconfigure or downsize offices where necessary, there is still work to be done at the infrastructure level.
Meeting rooms now need to cater to the fact that more attendees will join virtually. Gone are the days of sitting at a round desk watching a presentation on a screen at the end of the room. Businesses now need to invest in spaces and technology that work for hosting meetings both physically and virtually.
Understanding the technology
Adopting new devices and technologies is a great first step to building a digital workplace. But it’s important to make sure that your people understand how to use these technologies. This is especially important for remote workers who do not have the same direct access to tech support departments that they might once have had.
Businesses may have been using the same tech for a long period, and employees may initially struggle to get to grips with a new platform. When rolling out new technologies, it’s important that employees not only understand how to use them, but also why these changes have been implemented.
Within a business, employees have traditionally been used to seeing the same interfaces within their digital workplace. As an example, the intranet homepage appears the same for everyone within the organisation. As we shift into hybrid working, it’s clear that no two people have the same day-to-day experience. So, why should their interfaces be the same?
Organisations are now able to take advantage of modern technologies – working with a blend of AI and manual configuration – taking the way their employees use this tech to determine how they will get their messaging out.
Intranet vs digital workplace
Traditionally, intranets have simply been hubs for internal communications, but as the digital landscape has changed, they have also become a place for organisations to store files and share documents. As we have had to rapidly adapt to remote working, the ability to share information and files with our colleagues has become all the more important.
There is a wide range of technology out there for connecting and collaborating with our colleagues – Microsoft Teams, for example. It enables employees to meet, chat, and work on Office 365 documents, all in one place. When we have access to these tools, it’s valid to question the importance of intranets in business.
With the development of alternative technologies, intranets have to be so much more than they used to be. They need to be digital workplaces: a place which combines all the tools employees use to streamline their experience.
Modern digital workplaces, such as Microsoft 365, can effectively replace the physical workplace. They increase employee productivity and provide the ability to connect and collaborate remotely with ease.
Where is your intranet failing?
Intranets are an integral component to any modern digital workplace. It’s important to make sure that your business’ intranet offering is up to scratch if you are to provide your people with the best experience.
So what are some key areas where your intranet could be falling behind?
The user experience (UX) design of your intranet should not be taken for granted. If your employees have a bad UX with their intranet, they will not be inclined to use it to its full capability. With employees being so exposed to good UX in their home life with daily use of apps and services, they will expect the same quality in their working environment too.
Organisations should engage with their people to find out what they want from an intranet before implementing a new platform. Failure to do so can lead to an intranet that doesn’t serve employees’ needs. It’s also important to strike a balance – it’s possible to overdo it. If businesses spend too much time looking at things on a granular level, they will be overloaded with information to audit and investigate.
When switching to a new intranet platform, it is important that businesses intelligently migrate their files. Almost 20% of workers’ time is spent searching for information to do their jobs correctly – equivalent to one working day a week. Not only does bad file migration decrease productivity, but it can also ultimately lead to employees not being able to complete their duties.
Choosing the right modern workplace for your business
There are many different options for implementing an intranet or modern workplace in your business. It’s important to understand what your business really needs before choosing a new platform.
Build vs buy intranets
Intranet offerings mainly fall into two categories:
- Custom built: Building your own intranet provides you with total control over the tools and features you want to employ, but this can be a lengthy process and will likely require your company to have a team of in-house specialists to oversee this. There will also need to be ongoing management and maintenance.
- Ready-made: Out-of-the-box intranets are usually low cost and quick to implement, and your IT department will need little involvement. On the other hand, ready-made intranets provide little opportunity for customisation.
The Microsoft modern workplace
Microsoft 365 is at the heart of many businesses’ digital workplaces, providing the tools and services they need to keep communication flowing. Some key tools within the Microsoft digital workplace offering are:
- SharePoint: SharePoint allows business to build intranet sites with the ability to create pages, document libraries and lists. SharePoint in Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based platform hosted by Microsoft which enables collaboration and sharing between employees.
- Teams: It’s undeniable that Teams has become one of the most popular workplace services in recent years, with daily users rising to 145 million in 2021 (compared to 20 million pre-pandemic). The group-chat software not only keeps communication flowing between employees, but also allows users to access and edit their SharePoint and Office 365 files.
- Viva: One of Microsoft’s latest offerings, Viva is an employee experience platform made up of four modules (Insights, Topics, Connections, and Learning) – with a fifth on the way. Its main aim is to help businesses connect with their people and improve general wellbeing in the workplace. Viva can be accessed through Teams and is powered by Microsoft 365 tools.
A Fresh attitude to intranets
It’s important for organisations to take an evergreen approach when choosing their intranet. This will help them continue to accommodate users should the business model change, and readily incorporate the new tools and features they may need in the future.
Fresh strikes a good balance between custom-built and ready-made intranets as it provides a quick and low-cost deployment, as well as the flexibility to customise your package, all with ongoing support from Fresh intranet experts. Microsoft 365 is at the core of the Fresh.
Want to learn more about the modern workplace?
If you’re beginning your journey to building a digital workplace, it’s important to understand all the offerings. Sign up for our on-demand Digital Revolution 2.0 event to learn how Microsoft 365 and Fresh can become the pillars of your modern workplace.