We believed that digital technology would bring seamless collaboration and boost the productivity in our digital workspace. The reality turned out differently. 

Over 80% of companies believe that they still need to improve their collaborative working methods to hit their productivity goals – and many are investing in this goal. Now that many businesses have found themselves thrust into an extended period of distributed working, there’s a newfound focus on the tools and technology required to nurture effective collaboration and productivity amongst a distributed workforce.

Technological overload in a digital workspace

Merely introducing more technology won’t necessarily facilitate an efficient and focused workplace. In fact, relying on more tools has created a digital workplace that is overloaded with counter-productive ‘work about work’.

We all know the struggle of sorting through a swamped inbox and figuring out which notification ‘ping’ came from what platform. Deciding on priorities is a whole other story. The numbers bare out the strain that this monotonous ‘work about work’ subjects us to. In the UK, a third of all time at work is wasted with valueless admin.

As a result, it’s no longer enough for us to plug away with our assigned tasks. We also have to struggle even harder to stay on top of our extra work. This blurs our clarity, eats at our wellbeing, grinds us down, and makes it impossible for us to be focused. From sales to finance, our digital workplaces designed to maximise businesses productivity are unintentionally undermining our problem-solving processes.

Taking a smoother approach to digital workspace solutions

How do we fix this and implement the right digital workspace solution?

With employees facing  on and off-screen distractions more than ever before, layering technology isn’t making anyone’s work-life easier.

We need to start thinking about a digital workplace that restores the ability to focus on what really matters. Strategical approach to solving daily business challenges is a must. 

Digital workspace environment with a desktop computer and a cup of coffee.There are two distinct elements here to discuss. To begin with, interoperability is essential. When businesses deploy a variety of tools and applications to get different jobs done, people often find themselves inundated with the busywork of operating across disparate systems.

Businesses should look for tools that easily bring content and tasks together as much as possible. These should cut through the clutter and allow people to focus on the work at hand.

However, overcoming technological distraction isn’t just about making the pieces fit together more smoothly. It’s also about taking away the parts that don’t matter. A functional digital workspace should use smart technology to quiet the constant ping of notifications when they are irrelevant. It should surface what truly matters whether that’s using AI to predict which document we need or serving relevant notes ahead of a meeting.

Designing an inclusive culture

The right tools are just the beginning when it comes to bridging the digital divide. The future of the digital workplace is an environment where terms such as empowerment, collaboration, problem-solving, and creative thinking are not simply empty buzzwords. This means we need an intentionally designed culture where team members can communicate openly, collaborate easily, and feel free to find time for focus work.

For example, we can’t expect teams to use multiple communications channels effectively if they don’t feel safe enough to disagree or share ideas. A successful digital workplace is one where every team member is included in the conversation and valued.

An employee works on a keyboard. This becomes even more critical when you can’t rely on the dynamics of an in-person meeting to bring forward people’s opinions. Amy Edmondson, a Harvard Professor who studies leadership and psychological safety, said the following:

Distributed work is making us realise we have to be more deliberately—more proactively—open. We have to be explicit in sharing our ideas, questions, and concerns, because we can’t just overhear what’s happening in the next cubicle.

The notion of being more open to disagreement might seem simple, but it is central to creating a work environment that brings your teams closer together and boosts performance.

Adopting the output-focused mindset

The first step to creating a successful collaborative working environment should be asking the right questions. Instead of constantly questioning the productive of your team, you should take another approach. I suggest you begin the day by asking your employees what do they want to accomplish today? From then on, you can proceed with the questions about plans to achieve the goals

This is a shift towards an output-orientated approach that will bring outstanding results. Trust and support will help your employees be more productive and relieve stress in the long-term. When combined with the right technology, this approach will bring many business benefits.

I argue companies shouldn’t implement increasing numbers of tools without considering how they impact their teams. We need to unlock the creativity of our employees and help them stay focused. The only way to truly realise the future of the digital workplace is to move away from micromanagement and begin to encourage a culture of open collaboration and empowered teams.

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