What is digital workplace governance and how to plan a successful one

eXo Platform Blog

Digital workplace solutions have progressively become the cornerstone of any successful business. Long before the emergence of Covid-19 and the rise of remote working, businesses of all sizes and industries started to embrace similar technologies to enhance their processes, streamline their internal communications, foster collaboration and, of course, satisfy the growing needs of their mostly young and tech-savvy workforce in millennials and Gen Z.

Although the benefits are clear for everyone to see, not all businesses are able to guarantee high levels of adoption and engagement of their new digital workplace. This leads to two important questions: (1) Why some businesses are unable to lure their employees into using their digital workplace or intranet and (2) What can decision makers do about this?

In short, similar to any new initiative or strategy, the decision to introduce a digital workplace or build one from the ground up requires the project team to answer three important questions:

  • Where are we?
  • Where are we going?
  • And how are we going to get there?

Answering these three question is basically the foundation of any digital workplace governance framework or model.

In this blog post we are going to define digital workplace governance, why is it important and, finally how to approach it.

What is digital workplace governance?

Digital workplace governance refers to the collection of processes, roles, responsibilities and rules that can deliver and shape the digital workplace thus guaranteeing its long term success. It focuses mainly on the what, who and how of a digital workplace project as a whole and the decisions that have to be made along the way.

More often than not, project teams who fail to determine the scope of the project and align it with their business values, objectives as well as regulations and standards find themselves trapped with unclear processes, low adoption rates and a costly solution that doesn’t meet users’ expectations.

For these reasons, many digital workplace project teams refer to expert consultants to help them define the project’s overall objectives, manage change and generally put all involved stakeholders on the same page.

Why digital workplace governance is important?

As mentioned earlier, a robust governance model can make or break a digital workplace initiative as it is primarily designed to cover the whole scope of the project.

A well designed governance model is one that can effectively determine:

  • The project’s overall goals and objectives (or why a company decided to launch the project in the first place)
  • The digital workplace owners and managers
  • And especially, how to achieve the above objectives and how employees can interact with their digital workplace through a set of clear and concise policies and procedures.

In case all of these questions remain unanswered -or in other terms, a business fails to implement a digital workplace governance model- then the consequences can be damaging both in terms of human capital and the overall financial health of the business.

End-users would be confused as to why and how they would use the digital workplace thus leading to individual mistakes (as decisions would be mainly made on an individual level), increased levels of frustration and disengagement.  Additionally, the transition from old to new tools without a clear path and ongoing training can be a tedious and time consuming process that would eventually hurdle productivity and affect the business bottom line.

For all the above reasons and in order for businesses to guarantee a quick transition and favorable initial and ongoing feedback from end-users, a well-designed governance model is top priority right from the start. It can help end-users understand why and how they would use their digital workplace, make information readily available across spaces and sites, build communities and streamline internal communications through targeted content and, of course, increase productivity and streamline workloads.

intranet software

How to build a successful governance framework?

  • Research users’ needs

The first step towards creating a successful digital workplace governance model is to understand end-users’ needs. At the end of the day, a digital workplace is built to satisfy those needs and make life easier for employees.

Typically, when deciding to either purchase or build a digital workplace from scratch, the project team often conducts an IT audit that will help them assess existing tools and the overall effectiveness of their digital environments.  However, this is not enough as IT audits only focus on the technical side of things completely overlooking qualitative data and end users’ individual digital experiences.

This is why, many teams try to explore their users’ preferences through both quantitative and qualitative research techniques that would give them an overall view of their employees’ engagement levels, satisfaction scores, and of course, their preferences for any new tools.

Usually, users’ needs often revolve around instant communication, collaboration, knowledge sharing, project management among others. The key here is to classify these needs by order of importance and try and find the most suitable solution to cover the whole project requirements.

  • Set clear goals and objectives

One of the common challenges facing digital workplace project teams is the inability to determine a clear vision and objectives and, more importantly, align them with their business’ overall vision and values. In this case, the digital workplace wouldn’t be able to support various teams and departments to achieve their common goals thus, eventually, negatively impacting the overall business bottom line. So what needs to be done?

After researching users’ needs, the designated team needs to develop a vision statement that would act as the basis of the digital workplace project. Typically, a vision statement paints the picture of what the digital workplace would look like in the future in terms of overall utilization and ownership. It also determines the set of decisions, actions and tradeoffs to be made along the way.  As we have mentioned earlier, the digital workplace vison should be directly tied to the overall business vision.

  • Establish concise policies and guidelines

No strategy or plan would be complete without the right policies and guidelines in place. In short, they act as simple rules that dictates how the digital workplace would be operated and managed, and how users are expected to use their digital workplace.

Both policies and guidelines share a lot of similarities but they obviously have their differences. On the one hand, policies are mandatory rules that employees have to follow in order to be compliant with regulatory requirements and standards in highly regulated industries such as healthcare and finance where data is critical and any missteps have the potential to carry sever penalties. On the other hand, guidelines represent a set of best practices that employees can follow to make the best out of their digital workplace and facilitate their day-to-day operations.

  • Define roles and responsibilities

Upon the launch of the digital workplace, businesses need to designate a team that will be responsible for planning, owning and running the digital workplace. Usually, a typical project team groups decision makers from multiple departments such as IT, HR and other business functions. The more diverse the team, the more it is able to effectively achieve the objectives set at the start.

Additionally, roles and responsibilities are not only limited to the project team. Individual users should also be assigned a variety of roles in the digital workplace. For example, internal communications specialists can be assigned the roles of redactors and editors with permissions rights to create and publish news articles. Additionally, other users can be assigned the roles of space managers to manage and handle the operations and activities within these spaces.

It is worth noting that all of these roles and responsibilities have become a vital part of recent job descriptions. Recruiters try to define and convey them to potential job candidates so they would understand what is expected from them and how their can use the digital workplace

  • Build a robust content plan

Another important component of a digital workplace governance model is the content plan. Nowadays, digital workplace solutions act as a centralized communications hub where employees can stay informed on the latest news, activities, events, policies, etc.

For these reasons, HR and internal communications specialists have to come up with an internal communications plan that can effectively keep employees engaged at all times.

It is important here to study which types of content resonates well with users, how they want to consume this content, and identify the top knowledge contributors as well as knowledge consumers.

Once all of these metrics are gathered, communications specialists can draw user personas, brainstorm on suitable and targeted content and choose the right channels to display it.

Typically, modern digital workplace solutions come equipped with a multitude of social and content management features that make life easier for content publishers (such as news, wikis, microblogs among others). Last but not least, employees involved in creating and publishing need to constantly keep an ey on ongoing trends by analyzing user behavior and engagement metrics through either built-in or third party analytics tools.

  • Provide continuous training and support

The introduction of any new technology in the workplace requires careful preparation in terms of user onboarding and training. Businesses who expect their employees to get up and running using their digital workplace from the start often get low adoption and engagement rates.

Prior to the launch, it is always the project team who first gets the appropriate training provided by the vendor’s expert consultants from the end-user, administrator and developer perspectives.  The next step is to convey training materials and best practices to the whole organization. Training shouldn’t only be focused on how to navigate and use the digital workplace. It should also incorporate the set of policies and guidelines that users are expected to follow to make the most out of their platform.

The best way to convey training is to create a dedicated training hub or a resource center. There employees would easily find what they are looking for and especially learn at their own pace.

  • Define and measure KPIs

The last and perhaps the most important part of digital workplace governance is continuous measurement and monitoring. As the saying goes “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it”.

Analytics is key for the success of a digital workplace project. The project team has the responsibility to first, identify KPIs to keep an eye on, and then, measure them periodically.

Depending on the objectives determined at the start, teams can focus on adoption, engagement, efficiency metrics, among others. For example, if one of the objectives is to streamline internal communication, then it only makes sense to track the number of article views, the percentage of likes, comments and shares, etc. If the objective is to facilitate access to information and improve overall productivity, then metrics such as the time spent to locate information, the number of tasks created, task completion rates are among the many metrics that can be tracked. Either way, these metrics provide an overview of the health of the digital workplace in general as well as the end-users’ individual digital experiences in particular.

Let’s summarize

Digital workplace projects require all the involved stakeholders to work together in order to achieve their objectives and guarantee long terms success. The topic of digital workplace governance gained increased interest in the last couple of years as businesses want to effectively make the transition from the old ways of doing things to technologies in order to digitize their operations as well as their offerings. This blog post only covers a fraction of what digital workplace governance is all about. In future articles, we will explore this topic even further through detailed frameworks and practical examples.

If you would like to know more about similar topics, we invite you to take the blog tour.

digital workplace governance

 

What is a digital workplace?

A digital workplace is a next generation of intranet solutions or intranet 2.0 that is based on three pillars: communication, collaboration and information. In a way this definition is true but it doesn’t cover the whole spectrum of the term.
Here are some definitions of digital workplace:

  • An evolution of the intranet
  • A user centric digital experience

See the full definition of digital workplace


What is a digital workplace governance?

Digital workplace governance refers to the collection of processes, roles, responsibilities and rules that can deliver and shape the digital workplace thus guaranteeing its long term success. It focuses mainly on the what, who and how of a digital workplace project as a whole and the decisions that have to be made along the way.
See the full definition of digital workplace governance


Why digital workplace governance is important?

As mentioned earlier, a robust governance model can make or break a digital workplace initiative as it is primarily designed to cover the whole scope of the project.

A well designed governance model is one that can effectively determine:

  • The project’s overall goals and objectives (or why a company decided to launch the project in the first place)
  • The digital workplace owners and managers
  • And especially, how to achieve the above objectives and how employees can interact with their digital workplace through a set of clear and concise policies and procedures.

Discover why digital workplace governance is important


How to build a successful governance framework?

Here are 7 tips to build a successful governance framework:

  • Research users’ needs
  • Set clear goals and objectives
  • Establish concise policies and guidelines
  • Define roles and responsibilities
  • Build a robust content plan
  • Provide continuous training and support
  • Define and measure KPIs

Find out 7 tips to build a successful governance framework


How to set up a Digital Workplace Governance for a secure Digital Transformation?

Here are some preliminary steps to build your Digital Workplace Governance:

  • Being Organized
  • Understanding What Digital Workplace Governance Involves
  • Collaborate with Key Stakeholders in Setting up Your Digital Workplace Governance
  • Build up Your Framework

Find out the preliminary steps to build your Digital Workplace Governance

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Product Marketing Specialist

I am a product marketing specialist at eXo. My role is to assist marketing and sales teams in their operations and present our digital workplace solution to the world. I mainly blog about the latest tech trends, digital transformation, internal communication and how to navigate through eXo Platform.

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