A great digital workplace breaks down silos and supports more flexible working. Find out more and explore all the benefits of a digital workplace.
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In cop thriller, Witness, starring Hollywood titan Harrison Ford and 80’s screen idol Kelly McGillis, the most famous scene isn’t the train station bathroom fight, the high-speed horse-and-cart chase, or even the big shootout finale. It’s the iconic barn-raising scene.
In this scene, a Pennsylvanian Amish community comes together to practice the centuries-old tradition of building a huge wooden structure in a single day. It requires a great deal of technical skill, problem-solving, and teamwork—not to mention organization, planning, and time management. But, in the space of just a few onscreen minutes, we see the barn take shape: The fruits of everyone’s hard work and belief in a common goal.
It’s not so different to the modern workplace, where teams depend on each other’s collaborative spirit as they work together to realize shared objectives and solve problems with creative solutions. Whether they’re raising a barn or moving your project forward, giving your team the right tools to get more done together—and apart—will make them more productive, connected, and engaged.
That’s exactly what a successful digital workplace does. A digital workplace is an organization that operates largely online, using a tech stack of carefully selected tools, tailored to its people and goals. Regardless of whether you follow a remote, hybrid, or in-person working model, supporting your team to function online helps them collaborate more effectively and perform better overall.
In this article, we look at the benefits of a digital workplace so you and your people can better understand the advantages like efficient communication, flexibility, and breaking down silos. We also discuss the challenges you should be aware of—and how the latest workplace technologies address them.
Start working better together.
Whether you’re an in-office, remote, or hybrid team, adding Switchboard to your digital workplace helps you collaborate, communicate, and achieve your goals.
What are the benefits of a digital workplace?
Using a well thought out tech stack of digital tools that allow your teams to communicate and work with others online can have a profound impact on the employee experience and business performance.
Sure, you might not have a team of corrupt detectives chasing you through the cornfields of Pennsylvania, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have issues with workplace stress, mismanaged remote work, or team silos–all of which a digital workplace could help with.
So, with that in mind, here we discuss 10 of the most exciting benefits of implementing a digital workplace strategy.
More efficient, productive working
One of the core technologies used within a digital workplace is a platform where people can come together and collaborate in real time, or get caught up on updates asynchronously. For example, with virtual workspace software like Switchboard, you can quickly access the information you need and view all the communications that are relevant to a given topic or project.
Switchboard’s persistent rooms act as a shared digital workspace for project work or recurring meetings. There, anything you share on the Switchboard canvas will remain for your whole team to use wherever you left off—whether that’s for ideation, planning, or onboarding and training.
That means no more digging through multiple tabs, Slack messages, emails, or docs to find what you need. And, instead of having to share your screen, links, or an agenda with each person in your meeting, everyone can quickly access what they need themselves—as easily as they would reach out to grab a folder from a neighboring desk.
Promotes a more collaborative culture
You don’t have to be working remotely to benefit from building a digital workplace. Even if you work in the same physical location, most of your work exists online in some capacity.
For example, your product team probably uses an app like Onshape or Red Dot Design to create products and review each other’s work. A successful digital workplace will support this work to be more collaborative by giving those team members a way to do it synchronously as well as asynchronously—without huddling around one person’s device or taking turns to screen-share.
If they were using Switchboard, they could add all their apps and files to a shared workspace, bringing together their work and sharing resources so they can collaborate more easily. They could also set up a project room with the user research team, providing a ‘go-to’ location with a shared roadmap and access to project updates. That way, you can all update processes, run daily stand-ups, or put your heads together to quickly tackle an issue.
More cohesive teams
Digital workplaces can support and enhance the social interactions that bond your team, using engagement features like video, audio, chat, polls, and emoji reactions. Even if you work in person, giving your team a space to connect virtually adds another dimension to those interactions—they can happen more creatively, spontaneously, and with anyone, even if they work different hours or sit in another location.
Not only can teams bond on a social level, but they also become more cohesive by being more aligned on their departmental and company-wide goals. With virtual rooms for side-by-side project work, all-hands, or one-to-ones, you can create the spaces your teams need to connect, with the ability to simultaneously scroll, type, and browse documents that remain in the room even after the meeting is over. That means everyone stays up to date on the latest developments, without digging around for information or having constant briefings.
Everyone has the same experience
Often, modern organizations operate across multiple departments and offices, and may have a combination of in-person, hybrid, and remote workers. To avoid information silos and ensure that all colleagues feel supported and connected regardless of their location, you can bring everyone together using a digital workplace.
Whether you work across different departments or different time zones, digital workplaces help to democratize information. For example, if you frequently collaborate with the sales team, you need a tech stack that enables you to track progress on shared tasks and communicate in a way that suits both teams. That way, anyone on the project can access the same information, tools, and communication channels to get work done. Even if one of the sales team is completely remote, they’ll never miss out on important updates.
Collaborating in this more flexible, democratized way can even help give a voice to employees who might otherwise feel overwhelmed by the stronger personalities who always end up dominating meetings. They can use different methods, including sticky notes or chat box, to make their views heard.Not only does this enhance the employee experience, but it can help create a more innovative working environment with stronger problem-solving because everyone is truly involved.
A digital workplace can improve your meetings, even if you’re holding them within a physical office.
Cloud-based solutions like Switchboard, with its specialized communication tools for increased employee engagement, help make your meetings more dynamic and interactive. They also facilitate productive one-to-one conversations, and they provide you with a client management ecosystem that includes a dedicated space for customers, products, and projects.
For example, you can use Switchboard to display multiple tools, videos, and files all at the same time, as well as invite team members to take turns presenting topics and sharing multimedia without ever having to share their screens.
Meanwhile, in your one-to-ones, it’s easy for either person to add content to your room or find apps or files at any time. And whatever’s there stays there—so even if you have to abruptly end a meeting, you can easily pick it up again, whether that’s later that same day or the following week.
The same goes for your client meetings. A room specially tailored to your client’s needs isn’t just efficient and intuitively simple; it ensures you always have access to the tools and information you need.
In our favorite 80’s thriller, one corrupt cop is outwitted by Harrison Ford, who draws the rogue detective into a corn silo. Here, our hero gruesomely pulls the lever so the baddie is overwhelmed by the tons of corn that promptly engulf him.
In fairness, silos aren’t normally that bad in the workplace, but they do present issues in the form of poor internal communication, knowledge management, and employee experience, which is affected by inefficient workflows and stress.
With a digital workplace solution, though, you can create a unified tech stack that prevents your team from having everyday docs and files in multiple locations, where they’re hard to find and share. A platform like Switchboard makes all your tools and resources instantly accessible to those who need them.
More flexible working
Of course, working together online means your teams can work from anywhere, anytime. With the right tech stack, they can see task delegation, communicate with each other, and carry out their work regardless of their location. That means you can offer greater flexibility and a better work-life balance to your people, which can contribute to better employee retention, not to mention savings on physical office space.
For example, if all your synchronous meetings are recorded and saved in the relevant project room, your best sales rep can be more flexible for client calls because they’re never worried about missing the all-hands meeting. Or, that UX designer who always delivers the most customer-centric products can choose their own work schedule that fits around the morning school run.
Pro tip: Because Switchboard rooms stay how you leave them between meetings, you can use them to leave notes, add resources, and share ideas with your coworkers async. For some team members on more flexible working schedules, this is a really exciting benefit of working within a digital workplace.
Happier, more satisfied employees
Flexibility and work-life balance boost employee satisfaction and contribute to making your workplace more attractive to your best candidates. At the same time, the employee experience is a major contributor to improving employee retention rates. As this 2022 report shows, stress, limited availability of resources, and poor training were all among the top reasons why employees left their jobs in 2021. Implementing your digital workplace strategy will help plug those knowledge gaps and give everyone the tools to access information as soon as they need it.
Hire top talent
Thanks to more flexible working, digital workplaces attract, hire, and retain top talent. Providing your employees with a streamlined and effective digital workplace makes for smooth project management, and a more positive work culture.
In fact, a recent Deloitte study showed that one of Gen Z and Millenials’ top considerations when deciding where to work includes flexible hours. Meanwhile, the same report cited a good work-life balance as the top reason why those surveyed chose to work for their current organization. As you already know, digital workplaces contribute to flexible work, stronger collaboration, and democratized information, meaning you could attract and retain up-and-coming talent.
Better client relationships
Digital tools can be used for client meetings, for engaging leads, and as a customer service hub–but not just to carry out isolated calls. With a solution like Switchboard, you can use your dedicated virtual meeting rooms to help build relationships over weeks and months.
For example, you can set up a room and invite people as all-access members. Then, every time you meet again, your virtual space will be just as you left it the last time you spoke, with all the same apps, resources, and notes. In the meantime, clients can go to the room anytime to remind themselves what happened in the last meeting, leave notes, and share new resources.
This gives your clients a more satisfying, joined-up customer experience that helps nurture a positive rapport and can contribute to more conversions and lower churn rates.
Challenges of digital workplaces
You probably already have a mostly or completely digital workplace with pretty engaged users. But there are still challenges that come with upgrading and streamlining your existing tech stack.
So, here we look at some of the most common issues with digital workplaces and their solutions.
Onboarding and training
As you integrate new tools, you’ll need to ensure that everyone is fully supported as they adapt to a new way of working together. That includes sharing new processes, an introduction to new tools, and training. The best way to onboard your people is to give them a central hub where they can find all their apps in one place, alongside all their other most important resources.
For example, Switchboard allows you to work with any web-based app like Google, Jira, Mural, Notion, and Salesforce with no integrations required. As a result, you can collate new tools in one place or continue working with the same tools and applications you’re already used to.
You can also use this hub to do a company-wide digital audit and find out where you have multiple tools achieving the same results across different teams. Once you have all your apps side-by-side you can work out which are the most important and if any can be cut from your tech budget.
Equal access to technology
When you create a digital workplace, you need to ensure all employees have equal access to the necessary digital tools and technologies. Without this equity across your organization, some employees could feel disconnected from the team, you’ll struggle to make the most of all your talent, and meetings and project work won’t be as effective as they could be.
A unified platform that acts as a single source of truth addresses this issue by providing every user with the same tools, apps, features, and resources. In the case of Switchboard, your teams can access a workspace async or together in real-time to explore a virtual room. This gives every employee equal access and provides them with the tools they need to make a meaningful contribution.
Knowledge and information silos
With vast amounts of information available, it can be difficult to manage and filter relevant data. Some tools have limited or unintuitive search functionality or overwhelm users with notifications. If this is the case, you may find you still have the same issues with knowledge management and efficiency that you had before.
The key here is to do your research before committing to any one digital solution. You should look for a platform that:
- Brings all your teams’ tools and resources into one place
- Organizes your work by project
- Provides visibility into projects and what each person is working on
- Provides a collaborative working environment with side-by-side project work
A clearly structured and intuitive digital solution for collaboration and communication minimizes silos and makes all your organization’s tools, knowledge, and documentation accessible to whoever needs it.
Too much of our time is spent not actually working, but managing work-adjacent things like navigating between tabs and apps, catching up on group chats, and searching for information.
And, when you create a democratized workplace that emphasizes accessibility and visibility, there’s a risk of too many notifications coming everyone’s way, which can end up being a huge distraction.
A truly collaborative platform addresses this by creating a digital work environment that replicates in-person interactions. With real-time side-by-side working, and async work within dedicated workspaces that keep all your docs and notes as you left them, you don’t need notifications to maintain visibility across a team, project, or organization. Plus you know where everything is, reducing information searching and app switching.
Managing team members on top of your day-to-day responsibilities means you have to be highly organized and great at communicating. With a digital workspace, individual team members can feel disconnected or overlooked—but it doesn’t have to be that way.
When you use the tech to your advantage, you actually give team members more opportunities to connect with you while maintaining your boundaries.For example, you can create a regular office hour where your direct report can book 15 minutes to chat with you. Use note-taking tools to keep track of key discussion points to follow-up on next time.
Switchboard helps managers and remote workers with an always-open virtual workspace and persistent rooms. These give you all the tools you need to build positive working relationships with your people, where you can interact using all or any of your preferred tools and share multimedia.
Maintaining work-life balance
With the blur between home and work that can come with digital tools and flexible working, employees may find it hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Some may work longer hours than they would in the office, which can lead to burnout. This in turn can reduce productivity and lead to high turnover rates.
An organization’s leaders play a key role in creating its culture, norms, and expectations. By demonstrating a healthy balance between work and personal life themselves, leaders and managers can help establish positive behaviors among all employees. Equally, you can advocate for clear boundaries that encourage employees to limit their work-related communications outside of normal working hours.
Digital workplaces: Creating a better working environment for all your employees
In Witness, hardened police detective John Book is forced to hide among the Amish and finds himself confronted with a pretty different way of life. Instead of surviving as the lone honest cop in a sea of crime and corruption, he discovers he can flourish as part of a larger community where he’s welcomed and valued. He also learns a thing or two about silos.
Like those barn raisers, it’s no secret that modern teams rely on collaboration to tackle challenges, find innovative solutions, and achieve their shared goals. But the trick is in creating the right conditions for teamwork to thrive, where there’s access to useful tools, people feel heard, and there are no barriers to realizing their full potential.
Right now, your team may be struggling with information silos, too many meetings, or being unable to interact naturally with each other in a remote or hybrid working environment.
Adding Switchboard to your digital workplace resolves these issues with an intuitively natural virtual space for people to work side-by-side. Persistent rooms can be dedicated to any working relationship or project, and they make it easy for you to share resources and present ideas—so you can be more productive, connected, and engaged, and raise that barn together.
Start working better together.
Whether you’re an in-office, remote, or hybrid team, adding Switchboard to your digital workplace helps you collaborate, communicate, and achieve your targets.