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“Digital workplace” is in the eye of the beholder

Written by Swilson, originally published on the Eloquor Consulting Blog, October 24, 2016.

In the past several weeks I’ve facilitated two interactive workshops, one at ALI’s Internal Communications for Health Care and another at IABC’s Southern Region Conference. Both were designed to help corporate communicators think differently about the employees’ digital workplace. So much is what we see, or just think we see.

More organizations are looking at their employees’ virtual experience and finding that intranet is just one part of it. Many are shifting to a broader and more integrated view: the digital workplace. However you define digital workplace, this shift usually starts with how you think about the tools included: do you see them as stand-alone, or are they part of one experience?

The following is a look at how the workshop participants think about these concepts.

What do “collaboration” and “innovation” really mean

When asked what “collaboration” means to their organizations, I got responses like:

When asked what “innovation” means to their organizations, participants said:

What is digital workplace and what is included?

Everyone has a slightly different view of what digital workplace really means. “Collaboration” is the most common response, which is interesting because it’s a term much more easily translated to business benefit than most of the words we use to describe the value of digital workplace. My workshop participants described digital workplace with these words:

Some of the words are positive, others are negative, still others – like “a platform” – demonstrate a misinterpretation and incorrect focus on technology.

What’s the gap between employee and customer experience?

In the workshops, we also compared the experience of employees with that of customers.


Generally, participants think more favorably and positively of the customer experience than they do of the employee experience. With such strong evidence of employee satisfaction driving customer satisfaction, why would we allow this gap to persist?

What’s included in the digital workplace?

When I ask what elements they currently have to include in that virtual experience, the two groups included (examples shown in parentheses are not recommendations):

Some others I’ve seen integrated or have heard suggested in previous workshops include:

The complexity of governing a digital workplace

In one of the recent workshops we talked about the extent to which shifting to a digital workplace makes governance more complex. You must engage different owners as well as different benefactors and sponsors to bring the big picture together. But the potential value of a collaborative governance model is well worth it:

What’s next?

If you want to learn more and talk about your organization’s transition from a narrow intranet focus to a broader digital workplace focus, join me at one of these upcoming events:

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