Thriving in the digital workplace - Future of Work part 1

Posted on: December 15, 2014 by James McMahon

Tablets may only be just over five years old, but they are already part of a new generation of devices that are infiltrating our personal lives. With the average worker connecting to up to four devices at any time, the employee now has access to better IT at home than at work. Undoubtedly our personal tech habits are impacting upon our work lives, setting the trends, and expectations in the business environment. With digital natives set to make up three quarters of our workforce by the end of the decade, this is a trend that will significantly affect the future of work.

We are starting to see the emergence of the ‘digital workplace’. This is where an employee’s working environment - apps, people, content, customers, partners - is accessible to them anywhere, anytime and on any device.

The digital workplace is changing the way we work, affecting business strategy and creating new roles. IT departments are switching their focus from infrastructure alone to how IT can be delivered to the end-user regardless of platform or device.

The key to success here is that the digital workplace has the ability to connect the digital world with real-life, using it to deliver products, share knowledge instantly, and teach others, with businesses benefitting from enhanced productivity and cross-pollination of ideas, even creating new revenue streams.

It’s not without its challenges though – and while we’re seeing 80% of customers planning for it in future or running small digital pilots, in reality, shadow IT is the dominating factor in organisations and only 20% of large enterprises have implemented the digital workplace at scale.

So what are the challenges and how can businesses overcome these to help employees thrive in the digital workplace?

The technology challenge

Firstly, the digital workplace requires a number of technology changes and investment. The average employee has high expectations of their IT; demanding quick upgrades, HD audio and video, access to social tools and high availability. Mobile has to be default – mobile collaboration, mobile social networking and mobile business applications.

Employees want a wire-free workplace, and a collaboration ecosystem with all the necessary collaboration services such as e-mail, IM, enterprise social media and video conferencing. Facebook@Work is tapping into this trend as well as our own BlueKiwi enterprise social collaboration tools where we have 5,000 active communities working together globally. The digital workplace must also be independent of any specific device, yet still address all relevant security concerns and regulations.

The people challenge

For a business to thrive in the digital workplace organisations will likely need to overhaul their operations model and instil a digital-first mind-set in staff. This approach puts people first, empowering them to ‘think digital’ about how they work, experimenting with new working practices, and enabling them to find a way of working which helps them produce their best work.

A personal approach is important when considering accessibility and anywhere, anytime working. Businesses need to lead by example, showing employees what the benefits are of the digital workplace and how it allows them more freedom to work in ways they are familiar and comfortable with. It will also require a cultural change from management who can trust their employees working virtually.

Those businesses that nurture its employees to help them develop their digital potential will ensure they thrive in the digital workplace of the future.


James McMahon, Global Domain Director, Digital Workplace Services, Atos John Minnick, Senior Director, Global STeP Team, Atos - John Minnick's profile

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About James McMahon
VP, Head of Atos Digital Workplace and member of the Scientific Community
James is Head of the Atos Digital Workplace Practice boasting 10+ years’ experience of IT product management, strategy and solution architecture, targeted at enterprise customers. James is excited by developing and delivering transformational service offerings for enterprise customers, improving productivity, user experience and enabling new ways of working through cost effective services, including cloud, mobility, application & desktop virtualization, workplace as a service and BYOD solutions. Regularly meeting and working with customers (up to and including CxO level) is a key part of his role. He’s also a blogger on the Atos Ascent blog and member of the Atos Scientific Community for 5 years.

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