The digital workplace is for all types of employees

by bold-lichterman

The notion of intranet has evolved considerably in recent years to become a digital workplace, but certain bad reflexes die hard. A large part of the benefits that can be expected from a digital workplace thus escapes companies which wrongly exclude a large part of their employees.

The intranet is a place to live and work

Before going any further, it is important to summarize in a few lines this evolution of intranets. Historically, the intranet has been a top-down digital communication and information tool. Over the years, it has gradually followed, albeit with a certain delay, the evolution of Internet usage. Little by little, it welcomed work tools and workstation applications which were gradually “webized”, hosted corporate services (holidays, etc.) then became collaborative, conversational and social, putting the user back in the game. center and giving him the possibility of himself creating and administering spaces for work and exchange. From a communication tool, it tends to become a working and living space provided that companies understand that more than a tool is a new way of organizing, working and living together. It is indeed, in large structures or those where many employees work outside the walls, the only place where the whole company can meet.

All collaborators. In fact not really.

After having thought of their intranet as a digital communication device for years, companies have acquired bad reflexes which still persist today.

Thinking of the intranet as a digital communication tool involves many biases

First of all, the “communication” dimension. Information being power, not everyone has to be informed and not in the same way. For a long time, some populations had only limited access to information or no information at all. Or more prosaically, the lower we are, the less we need to know. An approach that is increasingly undermined by the new need to recreate links and commitment at all levels but which continues to wreak havoc. Fortunately, in 2016 there is no longer any question of excluding populations a priori, but when a deployment is more or less complicated because of the working conditions of some, it is always the same who are served last and who are considered “Less critical”.

This comes back de facto to also neglect the “work tool” dimension. And those who need permanent and immediate access to work tools or information are not just those who come first.

The digital dimension has long been associated with the desktop computer. We therefore continue to consider it logical that people who do not have a computer workstation do not have access to the intranet (and often do not even have an email address either). From the moment you are not working in an office there is less need to be informed and to communicate. Second consequence: access on smartphones and tablets is still far from being generalized.

Outside of offices, many companies are digital deserts

Result: entire populations are excluded from the benefits of the digital workplace: nomadic population, populations not working in offices, populations whose activity is essentially manual, etc.

In short, outside of offices, many companies are digital deserts. Factories, construction sites, blue collar workers are the ones left behind in the digital transformation of the work environment. There was even a time, fortunately over, when salespeople and nomadic executives fell into this category. Depending on the activity of a company, it can be up to 75% of its employees who

  • have a lack of information

  • are in deficit

  • lack the means of communication or even collaboration

These needs do not vary, contrary to a well-held misconception, according to the trade or the level of studies. Quite the contrary, I have often seen, for companies which have taken the leap, as much or even more value generated by the exchange of practices and expertise between blue collar workers than between white collar workers. Moreover, these dynamics obviously come up against fewer statutory or political obstacles with these populations that are too often forgotten.

It should also be noted that there is not a population that cannot find a business interest in it, provided, here again, to leave the paradigm of the communication tool to really have a logic of business value.

  • Today in many pilot airlines, flight and ground staff are seeing technical documentation, flight documents, and customer relationship management tools migrate to tablets.

  • We see letter carriers equipped with tools to facilitate relationships, customer service or even the optimization of routes and deliver new services.

  • ….

I also invite you to go see what Barclays did 3 years ago for its advisers who didn’t even have an email address. The deployment of “MyZone” on mobile has completely transformed the employee experience, the quality of service delivered to employees and impressively increased employee engagement.

In general, a digital workplace must concern all the employees of a company from the moment it is designed from the needs of employees, on 3 axes:

  • engagement (communication and collaboration)

  • Administrative department)

  • job (“job to be one”)

Ultimately, this leads us to an “APPification” of the digital workplace with a catalog of services and business verticals simplified to the extreme for more efficiency, all accompanied by an environment of engagement common to all. Like the customer, the employee is a “market of one” with an application mix specific to each other, if not to each in any case to each type of profession.

After that, we can continue to think that a digital workplace only concerns white collar workers, but that means missing out on enormous potential.

bertrand-duperrinBertrand Duperrin is Digital Transformation Practice Leader in Emakina. He was previously Consulting Director at Nextmodernity, a firm in the field of business transformation and management through social business and the use of social technologies.

He regularly deals with social media news on his blog.

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