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6 ways to improve digital workplace management: A guide for leaders and people managers
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6 ways to improve digital workplace management: A guide for leaders and people managers

Get actionable solutions to common challenges involved in managing a digital workplace—for more effective online communication and collaboration.

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A new Cambrian explosion is happening. New technologies are evolving from single-celled organisms (yes you, video conferencing) to complex life forms capable of everything from speech to fashioning tools with their newfound opposable thumbs (hello, AI). 

In this brave new world, you need to know how to manage your digital workspace. This gives you an evolutionary advantage over lumbering analog dinosaurs tied to legacy systems. 

However, while a digital workplace can make your people more efficient, effective, and productive, all the tech in the world is useless if they aren’t using it correctly—or at all. Even with the best will in the world, it can be hard to engage them, which is very frustrating. 

That’s why leaders of highly collaborative teams need to focus on people and understand the challenges they face in using a digital workplace. Only then can you provide solutions to get them working better together online. 

In this post, you’ll get actionable solutions to common digital workplace challenges so you can get the most out of your tools—and people. You’ll also learn how Switchboard brings your teams and tech together for more effective in-person, remote, or hybrid work. 

Ready to stride out and conquer the corporate savannah?  

Evolve to the next stage of collaboration. 
Switchboard’s digital workplace solution gives your teams a home base to find each other and get work done, anytime, anywhere. 
Learn more

6 common challenges in digital workplace management—and their solutions 

Common challenges in digital workplace management range from lack of employee engagement to siloed working and lack of cohesion or alignment. Let’s explore those challenges–and their solutions–in detail. 

1. Lack of employee engagement with the tech 

Digital workplaces have many benefits, but employee adoption can take time, especially if people are resistant to change or reluctant to use the tools. This can limit opportunities for teamwork, creativity, and innovation, thus impacting productivity. 

Reasons for not engaging range from lack of training, interest, or incentives to lack of understanding of the tech’s potential.  

Whatever the cause, rather than blaming users, you can rise to the challenge with these solutions. 


To engage people with your digital workplace, you need to put them first by: 

Evaluating your team’s needs

Global Technology Industry Research Analyst and Strategist David Smith, stresses that, “The workplace is people, and the focus has to be on ‘How are people experiencing work?’” 

He recommends getting feedback on what’s working and what’s not. Then, providing the tools and features they really need. For example, maybe you signed up to a new virtual meeting tool but they want to cancel more meetings, which means you need tools for async working. 

Helping people see the value

People adopt tech when they become invested in it, which happens when they see the benefits. To achieve this, show them what a digital workplace is and how it helps them do their best work

Tim Lockie, CEO of The Human Stack, suggests getting both “reluctant and engaged users in the same room and [asking] engaged users, ‘How are you saving time on tech?’ They will show you all these little tricks they've got… What they're showing you is ‘I used to be where you're at and now I'm here because I learned to do this—and now my life is better.’” 

Providing training

Often, says Lockie, leaders attribute lack of adoption to the tech when, in fact, people haven’t been trained on it properly. Before ditching your developer platform for an upgrade, close knowledge and digital skills gaps through training. This could include peer-to-peer teaching from super-users or hosting lunch and learn style workshops.   

Providing incentives

Use each team member’s motivations to drive behavioral change. For example, by folding tech adoption into performance reviews, using gamification, or providing social recognition by shouting them out for correct use.

Slack channel with a shoutout about AI prompt writing
Create a dedicated Slack channel to share hacks, tricks, and tips to get the most from your digital workspace tools. Source: Switchboard 

2. Siloed working and information 

Siloed working and information can even occur when people sit right next to each other, never mind when they rarely interact in real time or in person.  

Team silos form due to overspecialized roles, hierarchies, or lack of team players, trust, or communication. Information silos occur when files are stored in different locations or shared across different platforms, channels, or comment threads. For example, comments on designs in Figma, product marketing copy in Google Docs, or features feedback in Slack and email. 

Both types of silos can lead to a lack of collaboration and knowledge sharing, inefficient or duplicated work, and missed opportunities, which can affect team morale. 

If you’re intentional about things, however, it doesn’t have to be that way. 


To eliminate team and information silos, you need to bring everyone and all the tools and information you need together: 

Create a culture of cross-functional collaboration

Build cohesive teams by creating opportunities to connect (more on this later) and establishing shared vision and values. For example, accountability, trust, empathy, and open, transparent communication. This makes people more inclined to work together and support each other. 

Remember to build teamwork into everyday activities, like feedback sessions or problem-solving. It shouldn’t happen in a vacuum, like team-building activities outside work.

Establish psychological safety

When people feel safe to ask for help, make suggestions, or challenge the status quo, it makes your organization more innovative and adaptable. Make it clear there are no bad ideas and lead by example by admitting when you need help. 

Encourage knowledge sharing
This can involve shadowing, mentoring, or peer-to-peer learning. You should also use knowledge management tools like Google Docs or Notion to create knowledge banks or wikis so nothing is ever lost. Whatever you choose, be sure to standardize it and create standard operating procedures (SOPs) for documentation.

Use the right communication and collaboration tools

These let people work together in real time or async alone from anywhere, but remember to train people in their correct use. For example, Slack is ideal for quick updates, but you need project management software like Asana to assign tasks or track project status. 

Tools should also integrate with each other so you can easily access information on one platform from another.

Pro tip: Switchboard’s visual collaboration platform reduces siloed work and information by giving your teams a central place to find each other and get work done. Just create dedicated, persistent project rooms to unite all your cross-functional teams and browser-based apps, files, and documents—no need to integrate anything.  
Switchboard makes everything multiplayer, so you can work side by side in real time or hop into the room to add contributions async. You can also get updates on your own schedule from room recordings, voice notes, and AI-generated summaries of sticky notes. All your work is saved at the end of the session, so you—or anyone else—can pick up where you left off next time.
Switchboard project room with different documents open
Switchboard lets you keep information organized by project, so anyone can always find what they need to move work forward. Source: Switchboard 

3. Distractions and context switching 

“Context switching” between tools and tabs to find what you need wastes up to four hours per week and negatively impacts productivity, concentration, and working memory

Then you’ve also got distractions from unnecessary meetings, daily updates, and notifications from instant messaging apps like Slack that demand your attention—even if messages aren’t actually urgent. Lack of clarity about task ownership can also cause people to message the whole team when they don’t know who to contact. Ditto messages shared across multiple platforms. 

Let’s see how you can take back control. 


To get your focus back, you need to be ruthless about streamlining tools and processes: 

Ask yourself “Could this meeting be an email?”

Audit your regular meetings to see which are really necessary. If you could achieve the same results with async communication, maybe you don’t need the meeting? 

Remember, though, that some emails should be a meeting. If your Slack request for feedback on a new user flow has turned into a brainstorm with twenty replies, it’s more productive to hop into a quick huddle.  

Streamline your tech stack

Less is more, so asking people what they need and will actually use should allow you to ditch any unnecessary tools. Smith also recommends developing “an architecture of what you have internally, from the back offices… to front office stuff, collaboration stuff” to see what each team needs. 

Use virtual workspace software tools that integrate with each other to reduce the number further. “The more seamlessly they're integrated,” says Smith, “the more you mitigate friction and the less context switching there is.” 

Use a unified digital workspace

Many tools are increasingly adding functionality so you never have to leave their app. For example, if you’re reviewing user feedback about bugs, it’s helpful to be able to start a conversation with Engineering in the same app. However, not all teams use the same apps. For example, it is pretty common for engineers to use Jira and design to use Asana.

If you’re using Switchboard, none of that matters—you can organize all the apps and files you need in a single view. Then, ask a coworker to hop for a video call or chat or leave an audio file or sticky note for them to catch up async.

Switchboard room with Asana and chat feature open
Saving everything in persistent Switchboard rooms lets you communicate in context, cancel more meetings, and get back more time for focus work. Source: Switchboard 

4. Lack of alignment  

Again, lack of alignment isn’t exclusive to digital workplaces, but you need to take care that async or remote working doesn’t exacerbate it. 

When team members aren’t aligned, they can lack clarity on goals and project objectives, leading to confusion and lack of direction. It can even cause conflict, communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and duplicated work. 

Let’s explore how to avoid this. 


To get everyone rowing in the same direction, you need to:

Get clarity on goals

Once your team is clear on overarching company goals, work with your people to create individual goals that tie into team ones, which feed into company objectives. 

Have each person set a certain number of individual goals, linked to a higher business objective. Team leads can review these to check they’re challenging but achievable. Throughout the year, your people should share progress updates, monitor which targets are on track, and find ways the team can support each other. 

Sharing goals in this way creates transparency and commitment and means everyone shares in successes, so they’re more likely to work together toward it. 

Check out our post on real-life collaboration examples for more on this.

Use digital workflow solutions for task and project management

Get clarity on roles, responsibilities, and statuses by using task and project management software to assign tasks and track progress. This keeps everyone on track and provides clarity on ownership, which promotes accountability.

Individual objectives and key results.
Individual goals should tie into overarching team and company goals to keep everyone moving in the right direction. Source: Switchboard

5. Building company culture and connected teams  

Even in-person teams that work in different offices can struggle to bond if they don’t get together often, and it can be even harder to find opportunities to connect when you’re on opposite sides of the world. 

When teams aren’t connected, it can negatively impact collaboration, knowledge sharing, employee satisfaction, and engagement. 

Here’s how to turn things around.   


To bring people together in any environment:  

Create opportunities to connect

These might include scheduled team-building activities like games night or async culture-building exercises like shared interest Slack channels. You can also bond during team and 1:1 check-ins or by connecting with a randomly assigned colleague via the Donut app, which helps break down departmental silos.   

Use the right tools

Your digital workplace tools should enable communication and connection through features like emojis, instant messaging, and sharing GIFs. When you use a digital workplace platform like Switchboard, you can also set up dedicated games or “watercooler” rooms for spontaneous interactions.  

Ensure everyone has the same experience

Digital workplaces must work for everyone, says Smith: “There's this whole equity and balance…. [you] have to focus on the experience of people; how they're experiencing the workplace, whether they're in a physical office or remote.” 

To do this, provide everyone, not just hybrid and remote employees, with the right tech and equipment, like headsets, etc., as well as use a platform like Switchboard that allows them to share content as well as screens. This allows everyone to participate on an equal footing from anywhere.

Switchboard room with various apps and documents open
Switchboard lets you share more than just your screen no matter where you are. Source: Switchboard

6. Managing work-life boundaries

The lines between work and home have been blurry for some time, but you need to be extra vigilant when you’re working from home. An “always-on” culture of toxic productivity is a surefire ticket to burnout and disengagement. 

Here’s how to maintain healthy digital habits. 


When it comes to maintaining work-life boundaries, you need to lead by example: 

Set and respect boundaries

Whether it’s focus time or OOO, encourage people to set and share their hours in their Slack status, email signature, or by blocking time on their calendars. This helps ensure these are respected and promotes transparency around availability and capacity, which makes it easier to plan and prioritize. 

Those working from home should also establish clear routines and a dedicated workspace to avoid work spilling into other areas of their life. 

Provide support

Wellbeing resources make great perks, like mindfulness apps, digital detox tips, or therapy platforms like Oliva. You can also create a “mental health” Slack channel or Switchboard room where people can have open conversations in a supportive environment.

Encourage regular breaks

Take regular breaks during the day and disconnect during weekends and vacations. Silence notifications during OOO or focus time and resist the temptation to have apps on your phone.

Slack status showing focus time
Setting your Slack status lets people know when they can and can’t expect an answer from you. Source: Flying Cat Marketing 

Digital workplace management: Put people first to get the most from your tech   

Survival of the fittest these days means knowing how to manage your digital workplace to make your teams more efficient and productive.  

But, while you can lead a stegosaurus to water, you can’t make it drink. You need your teams bought in to make use of all that shiny tech. If you’re not getting the biggest bang for your buck, take the time to find out why. Maybe the tools don’t fit your teams’ needs, skill level, or business processes. 

Focus on people first to understand the challenges they face in using a digital workplace. Then, you can provide solutions to get them working better together online. For example, by providing training in digital tools, creating cohesive teams, getting clarity on roles and goals, and eliminating siloed work and information. 

Also, give them a home base where they can always find each other and get work done. Switchboard lets you organize all your cross-functional life forms and the browser-based apps, documents, and files they need in persistent, multiplayer project rooms. Work side by side in real time or async alone and make teamwork the best part of work. 

Evolve to the next stage of collaboration. 
Switchboard’s digital workplace solution gives your teams a home base to find each other and get work done, anytime, anywhere. 
Learn more

Frequently asked questions about managing digital workplaces

What is digital workplace management? 

Digital workplace management involves using digital tools so people can work from anywhere, anytime. There are many benefits of a digital workplace, but it can be challenging to get people to use tools correctly. Therefore, digital workplace management involves helping people see the value in them, as well as removing barriers like siloed information or notification overload. 

What is an example of a digital workplace?

An example of a digital workplace is an ecosystem of integrated, cloud-based digital tools that cover all your business needs so people can work and communicate online. This might include an intranet, communication tools like instant messaging, knowledge management, or social media tools. 

How does digital workplace management relate to the strategy of a company?

Digital workplace management relates to company strategy in that a well-designed digital workplace can help you achieve your business goals through more effective teamwork. By providing employees with the right communication and collaboration tools, you can offer flexible, async working while improving employee productivity and satisfaction.

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Evolve to the next stage of collaboration.

Switchboard’s digital workplace solution gives your teams a home base to find each other and get work done, anytime, anywhere.