Building a Digital Workplace: What can go wrong?

I was invited to speak at an event recently and decided to include a slide in my presentation on the things that can go wrong when building a digital workplace. I’ve made many mistakes in my career and sometimes claim to have a Degree from the University of Hard Knocks! This slide has sparked many conversations so I thought I’d blog about the slide and a few hard lessons you might like to avoid!

CMS Wire article: 10 Trends that will shape Digital Workplaces in 2019

What can go wrong?

This is the slide from my presentation that got people talking.



It is easy to create divisions in an organisation both real and perceived. Creating a platform and limiting who has access, using different tools in different teams and creating barriers to access are just some things that create division. Are half your people on Slack and the other half on Microsoft Teams? Do some users access content with mobile devices only? Do some users need to leave their physical workplace to get computer access?  (Bridging the Digital Divide in your Workplace)

Outdated Policies

Are your policies suitable for the modern workplace? Did you organisation create a policies back in the 90’s and never update them? Does you IT policy result in tools and features being turned off because they aren’t understood? Does your security policy prevent you from collaborating with people outside your organisation (but emailing attachments is OK)?

Forgetting about Data

Measurable processes are a fundamental part of process improvement. Don’t forget to measure, make processes visible and take time to improve them. You won’t get a productivity gain or identify improvement opportunities without data.

Wrong Team

Asking the stereotypical IT geek (you know the hacker from an 80’s movie) to create your digital workplace might not give you the result you are expecting. Worse still, you might not see what’s possible! The wrong team is technology focused rather than business focused and works late at night to avoid engaging with the humans in the workplace.

Ignoring Culture

Poor culture stifles engagement and adoption of new ways of working. Find people in your organisation that both represent the people and embrace improvement and change. These people are your champions and help create a movement, demonstrate by doing and spread the word! (Deloitte: Digital Workplace Culture)

No Strategy

Why are you doing this in the first place? What are the drivers for building a Digital Workplace? What problems are you solving? How does this relate to business strategy? If I don’t know why, I’ll be less engaged. Tell everyone the why!

A Digital Workplace isn’t about technology, it’s about people and process. It should enhance the work experience and make it easier to collaborate, find the knowledge you need and add value to your working day. Does yours help or hinder your day?

Gartner Group: The recipe for a Digital Workplace


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