blog.frederique.harmsze.nl my world of work and user experiences

May 31, 2015

Sightseeing Digital Workplaces

Filed under: Digital Workplace — frederique @ 1:11

I love guided tours of digital workplaces. Usually they are hidden behind the walls of organisations. Firewalls that is. But sometimes we can visit and get a guided tour. A digital visit. This gives us an idea of what is happening in the domain of digital workplaces, what works for other organisations and what were their challenges.

Recently I attended part of Digital Workplace 24, DW24. There was no way I could attend the full 24-hour marathon, but I could catch some sessions. The reason is that the marathon itself was a digital event: I could enter the digital conference room from my digital workplace, whenever I had a moment. A good case of eating our own dogfood – or drinking our own champagne. I have watched earlier editions, and I will watch future editions whenever possible.

Some things that struck me in this online conference:

  • There are some great digital workplaces out there: the starting point is the intranet portal homepage, but employees – especially knowledge workers – can click from there to get their job done. Arup stated the following principles for their digital workplace, and these seem to apply to many others: “me-centric”, collaborative, findable, a single source of the truth, and mobile.
  • A lot of them are built with SharePoint. There were workplaces built with SharePoint 2010, 2013, Online, hybrids of on-premises and online… The hybrid scenario came up several times during the marathon. The main reason we see to put some things on premises is regulations and requirements from clients who want their data in their own country.
  • Non-knowledge workers are starting to be connected. The knowledge workers are still the main audience: employees who do their jobs using computers. Employees who work in the shops or factories or otherwise outside an office are usually not connected to the digital workplace. But many organisations start to involve these employees too. For example, Barclay offers their employees in the branches mobile access to the Knowledge Info Kit. And Ikea has an “extranet” so that factory employees can read news and find staff information from their personal devices at home. Coca Cola emphasized that all employees have access to their responsive iConnect, and they have iConnect Express for factory workers who have little time..
  • Less is more: Adidas told that they made a conscious effort to keep their digital workplace as clean as possible. They left out everything they do not really need. And they did not overload it with a big branding look & feel. The brand feel comes from the content. The result is an impressively effective and good-looking digital workplace.
  • My tools tiles are quite popular. Several homepages contained a set of tiles leading the users to their favorite apps, tools, solutions, whatever you call it. Users can modify their own ‘My tools’ set. American Express calls it the ‘toolbelt’ and offers it in a dropdown from the main menu.
  • Many digital workplaces are responsive and work on mobile devices. Or at least part of the digital workplace is: the portal, news, discussion forum, …
  • You need to know what your users need before you can build a digital workplace that meets those needs. The Mayo Clinic told us about their research into the work experience and needs of their nurses. They talked to nurses and followed them around in their jobs, and from that information they created personas for the different roles: “the tools of empathy”. And with these personas in hand, they came up with a digital workplace designed for the actual nurses instead of for “bosses”.

Great tours, interesting discussion. And we could join in from our own desk / armchair / couch / wherever. For free too. So I definitely plan to join again next year…

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