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Businesses Blog

The Digital Workplace

26th April 2016

Digital Workplace

It’s not just businesses, products and services which are changing in order to make the most of digital technologies; it’s also workplaces. The growth in flexible working and homeworking over the past 10 years has been significant. Some businesses evidence increased productivity and higher staff retention as a result of these shifts, whilst others (especially the large IT companies) have adopted the policy of improving the workplace itself to ensure its one where creativity and non-screen-time can be enjoyed as much as the time spent working at the desk.

Consider your business and how it’s going to change over the coming years. What key issues and challenges come to mind? What are the major opportunities which you are looking to exploit in that time? …. business growth, new products and services, new partnerships and new customers. Most businesses will be aiming for a similar core strategy involving these things. Now consider how digital technologies will impact on that core strategy. What additional opportunities does digital offer, for example, the ability to excel in customer service and experience, or building excellent productivity and operational quality? Alongside these features sit a role for digital technologies to improve and enhance the workplace – for employees, employers and increasing for a flexible and agile approach to our staff teams.

Source: Oscar Berg

Across the world, new digital businesses have been set up which offer other businesses the opportunity to outsource whole sections of work e.g. design work using 99Designs, wider marketing function covered using PeoplePerHour. More-and-more of these virtual team approaches are becoming available and offering businesses a new way to engage in teams. But many businesses still prefer to keep these skills and the value of their business in-house.

So how can we ensure that the employees we want to keep, stay with us? – Well digital can help there too. Most employees will still place a good deal of value in their level of salary (of course!), but at the same time digital is offering news ways for employees to be engaged in decisions, collaboration and making them more autonomous in their work – this holds a very high level of value for most our of staff.

Future employee


  1. Do you have flexible and homeworking practices in place and do you review them regularly to see how improvements can be made using digital?
  2. Does your IT budget include upgrades and replacement devices which will assist with a mobile and flexible workforce?
  3. Have you developed an in-house training programme to support use of the digital and devices?
  4. Have you consulted your staff recently about their use of digital and how the business can support to grow skills and deployment in the workplace. (Ask them about preferences and their motivation as well)
  5. Have you reviewed your business plan for the year ahead and ways in which digital tech can help to increase staff loyalty, job satisfaction, increased collaboration and autonomy?


The Connected Worker is one who is able to work at multiple locations and venues, using a range of platforms and apps to connect to the business, communicate effectively with colleagues and clients using these platforms, and manage projects and workflows effectively as all times. Newer systems for productivity and communication within teams including Slack and Trello are bringing more opportunities for this to improve, whilst the use of videoconferencing has now become not only much more common but also much better quality – Skype and Google Hangouts for team meetings.

There’s a questions in here about team size – it really does matter when it comes to how well (or not) we can communicate with digital technologies. Accordingly to some of the larger digital businesses teams should comprise of 8 – 10 people at a time – which can then fit into larger teams, but this close group can commit to maintaining regular updates, communications and a shared project management approach. It’s called ‘The pizza team’.

And encourage your teams and staff to celebrate their achievements and success with digital – whether it’s the device they’ve worked with, or a new app or platform. Encourage them to share that with colleagues and explain how they’ve used it. Then when there’s agreement – move towards adoption of the same apps and platforms (and maybe devices) across the organisation – making the most of shared-learning and collaboration rather than a proliferation of different systems and processes.

Connected Worker

Connected Workers need to better understand and engage with their Connected Customers too. We need staff to commit to an effective and genuine link with our customers and one which knows their context well and knows how solutions can be applied. Staff who link into the collections and interpretation of customer data, analysis and the customer journey effectively will be in a valuable position to inform further improvements and innovations.

Leadership in the scenario of connected workers and connected team, embracing flexible, agile and collaborative teams will need to have skills different from those of the old-business team leaders. We will need to be coaches, mentors, collaborators ourselves, in order to demonstrate and inspire colleagues to work in this way.

For more details on the need for improved Digital Leadership, please register here and we will send you our recently published White Paper.

Sign up now to one of Cosmic’s Digital Leadership taster courses running this year – more details here