Let’s face it, the term ‘digital workspace’ isn’t novel and makes some of us cringe, but I’m going to do my darnedest to convince you that it’s actually a pretty legit way to define a huge shift we—as a collective in the space we call work—are all greatly immersed. We’re continuing to see an undeniable cultural shift in the work place. Traditional brick and mortar offices are going extinct and with it brings the great challenge of maintaining, growing, and enhancing company culture in a remote workspace.
Let’s begin with where this phrase originated…
Beginning around 2009, industry thought leaders were looking for new words beyond the term “intranet” to refer to broader needs than just a company’s internal website for employees. To fully understand what a digital workspace is and isn’t let’s define some classic communication and collaboration terms.
Webster’s Definition: a network operating like the World Wide Web but having access restricted to a limited group of authorized users (such as employees of a company)
PixelMill’s definition: an internal digital area for employee related information and/or work tasks, typically on a single platform (i.e. SharePoint)
Webster’s Definition: a network (as of a company) similar to an intranet that also allows access by certain others (such as customers or suppliers)
PixelMill’s definition: an internal digital area for employee and/or external user related information and/or work tasks, typically on one platform (i.e. SharePoint)
Webster’s definition: a website serving as a guide or point of entry to the World Wide Web and usually including a search engine or a collection of links to other sites arranged especially by topic
PixelMill’s definition: Launching point or gateway for employees to access their communication and collaboration tools. Portals are required for organizations utilizing multiple platforms and tools that require an efficient way to guide employees to their needs. A Portal could include an intranet.
So, what does PixelMill consider a digital workspace?
Any digital area employees spend time doing their work. Super simple right? Well, the first word is where things start to get complicated. “Any” opens up a lot of options…we’re talking intranets, extranets, collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, Skype, Planner, Yammer, Slack, and any part of the Office 365 suite including email. So, it’s easy to see how overwhelming this can all become for your employees. Sure, we have all these great tools, but that doesn’t mean we have any idea when to use which one, how they work together, or IF they work together within our organization.
So, how do we answer these questions and give your employees a clean, organized, intuitive digital workspace that meets their needs? The answer is really simple—start by defining your organization’s goals, workflows, and needs, THEN, and only then, decide which tools best help you accomplish those goals. Set a plan, document your governance and most importantly, enforce that governance! What sets a digital workspace apart is not just what tools it’s made of, but what its goals are from a holistic perspective. It’s not just an internal site to disseminate information, it’s about bringing your company culture online and making your employees workdays more efficient, effective, and quite frankly enjoyable.
I like to think of a digital workspace like an actual office. You have a conference room with a clear set of goals for what is accomplished there, and it looks and functions very differently from the front desk, accounting office, or breakroom. Yes, this is a little rudimentary of a comparison, but go with me on this…
When designing your conference room, you’ll consider things like: Who will be using the space? How many people does it need to seat? How many chairs do we need? Will people be calling in remotely? Do we need a monitor or conference phone? Do we have enough power and bandwidth to accommodate our needs? Who has permission to use the room? How do people book the room? How is the light? Do we have natural light, or do we need to bring in other options? What colors make us feel comfortable and motivated? Are the chairs comfortable?
Now unless you have a true renaissance man at your disposal, chances are you’re going to have to seek out several experts to answer all these questions. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t call my electrician to get advice on paint colors.
Why am I rambling on about a conference room? Well, that’s because here at PixelMill we have the experts to answer all these questions for your digital workspace.
We have researchers and analysts who will help uncover and define your needs and help blueprint out a plan that ensures we build you something your team will use.
We have UI/UX designers that help make sure your site is beautiful and functional.
We have architects who make sure that this whole thing doesn’t just look great but is organized and built in a sound way.
Our developers build it in a future friendly way to ensure that your investing in a tool that will withstand changes that will inevitably come down the road.
We also help you present your new tool to your team in an organized and clear way. Teaching them how and why you want them to use the tools available to them. Proper training and governance are essential to user adoption and retention. Building a digital workspace that solves your user’s needs, and providing them the structure and support they need to use it to the fullest, is crucial.
And last, but certainly not least, we can help you ensure you’re tracking your successes. We can help you define metrics you need to track so you can measure your successes.
Ready to take your collaboration and communication to the next level? A PixelMill team member would love to chat with you about how we can transform the space where your team spends so much of their valuable time.