Digital Workplace Trends For 2021

8 Digital Workplace Trends for 2021

Driven by the restrictions posed by the pandemic, the abrupt shift to remote working setups has altered the business landscape as we know it.

With 60% of professionals claiming they experienced better work-life balance while working from home, it would be tough to return to pre-pandemic levels of in-office work. A study found that only 15% of those employed pre-COVID work from home. However, this population was joined by an additional 35%, meaning one-half of the workforce now works remotely.

Dan Torunian, VP (Employee technology and experiences and data centers) at PayPal, said,
With most or all of our employees operating from their homes, it’s incumbent upon employers to optimize remote worker experiences, intentionally evolving them to be as efficient and delightful as onsite experiences are.”

So, as most organizations manage a large number of employees working from non-traditional workspaces, many, like Dan, acknowledge the inevitability of a digital workplace to optimize individual and team productivity, collaboration, communication, and employee engagement.

Let’s have a look at the digital workplace trends that will define the world of business in 2021.

Digital Workplace Trends for 2021

Trend #1: Employee experience comes to the forefront

Organizations fail to recognize employee experience as an essential aspect of employee efficiency. Traditional digital workplaces offer fragmented employee experiences, with siloed apps, difficult navigation, and a lack of integration with legacy enterprise systems. As a result, employees, particularly those working remotely, often feel disengaged and unsupported.

However, modern intranets create a unified, cohesive, and accessible digital workplace for organizations to connect employees with the information, apps, and people they need.

At Acuvate, we help clients enhance communication and collaboration with Mesh 3.0, our Employee Experience Platform for companies.

Mesh 3.0 ensures employee experience takes center stage with capabilities, including –

  • Recommend personalized content and send real-time alerts based on an employee’s location, role, interests, etc.
  • Create a virtual water-cooler for remote employees to socialize with colleagues through blogs, discussion forums, and various audio/video conferencing tools
  • Provide anytime, anywhere access to apps and information with cloud-based storage, mobile intranet app, and an inbuilt chatbot
  • Seamless integration with multiple apps, including Workday, Office 365, SAP, and many more

Trend #2: It’s the time for hybrid workplaces

The ease and flexibility of working from anywhere build resiliency and empower organizations to stay competitive and productive. With COVID-19 restrictions lifting, many organizations are opting for a hybrid working model – where employees can work from both their home and the office. It can also mean that some of the staff work from the office, while the rest of the employees work from home. Therefore, leaders need to incorporate the infrastructure necessary to support employees to work seamlessly and productively in a hybrid setup.

Employers need to ensure powerful digital workplace tools are in place for seamless communication and collaboration. These tools build corporate agility and ensure positive employee experience at every stage.

Unlike siloed remote working tools, modern intranets act as a core unified digital platform that provide employees access to relevant information and gives them a sense of belonging. They centralize company-wide knowledge and hence boost productivity by reducing the time spent on finding information from various sources.

Our SharePoint AI-enabled intranet, Mesh 3.0, offers a range of advanced capabilities to improve remote worker productivity and collaboration. These include:

  • Cognitive enterprise search: A unified search engine with which users can find information across all applications and thereby reduces the time to find information
  • Idea management tool: Organizational innovation takes a hit when employees work separately in remote locations and there are no informal water cooler conversations. An idea management platform helps employees to collaborate and come up with ideas, solutions to business challenges. Gamification based idea capturing adds to the fun quotient.
  • Personalization – Personalized content recommendations based on the users’ profiles, interactions, teams, interests, etc.
  • Communication and collaboration – Mesh enables top-down and bottom-up communications. Core collaboration and social features like blogs, groups conferencing, project management tools, document sharing tools are available in a unified interface.

Trend #3: A strong emphasis on strategy and a digital workplace roadmap

With the growing need for effective digital workplaces, having a well-laid out strategy and a long-term roadmap is a key to the organizations’ success.

Leaders must ensure internal governance systems are in place so that the organization’s digital workplace remains usable, agile, and relevant over the years.

The SMG/Reworked State of the Digital Workplace Report 2020 states that the number of organizations with a digital workplace strategy or program in place stands at 72% in 2020 – and this number is expected to rise in 2021.

Trend #4: A move towards democratized content management

Instead of shifting the entire burden of handling digital requirements on the IT team, organizations are looking at options that allow employees from different departments to manage and update content independently.

That’s where modern intranets come to the rescue. Platforms, such as Mesh 3.0, have built-in low-code development tools that enable employees to create online forms, blog templates, idea management spaces, and intuitive content publishing and give personalized content to specific users based on their role, geography, and interests.

Mesh provides an easy-to-use content authoring tool with pre-built templates that empower citizen journalists to contribute/publish content without depending on the IT team. It offers a host of drag and drop features and custom page templates to deliver the smoothest and most easiest authoring and editing experience.

Such decentralized technology services will be a significant trend in 2021. 

Trend #5: The rise of mobile apps

With the increase in hybrid working setups, employees prefer convenience and on-the-go accessibility more than anything else.

Therefore, mobile app functionality for digital workplaces shall be another significant trend in 2021.

At Acuvate, we build and deploy mobile intranet apps, allowing employees to receive personalized push notifications, access organization-wide data with the help of an inbuilt chatbot, browse through project details, submit routine information, such as time and expense reports, connect with colleagues, and much more, all while being away from their desks.

The idea is to have all the apps, tools, and information at the employees’ fingertips.

Trend #6: Overcoming login ‘fatigue’ with seamless integration

With enterprises using hundreds of siloed apps and tools, employees must switch between multiple tabs and windows, leading to decreased productivity and what is commonly known as login ‘fatigue.’ 

Therefore, organizations are increasingly looking at digital workplace solutions that provide a “single window” access to enterprise-wide tools, applications, and data.

Mesh 3.0, our Employee Experience Platform, acts as a central hub for all data and tools, seamlessly integrating with legacy systems and third-party applications, including, Expensify, Office 365, etc., working as a “one-stop-shop” for all your employees’ digital needs.

Trend #7: Artificial intelligence is here to stay

Whether it is assisting employees in finding content, people, and apps or automating manual, repeatable tasks, or providing support to overwhelmed contact centers, organizations shall make the most of artificial intelligence in 2021.

AI-enabled chatbots shall provide voice-based services, saving employees valuable minutes in performing everyday tasks.

Moreover, useful data insights delivered by AI will help improve key performance metrics.

AI can also resolve the information overload challenge for employees. Based on a user’s location, role, department, and interests, AI can recommend and deliver contextualized and personalized information.

Trend #8: Data security is of utmost importance

There are two sides to every coin. While digitization brings its benefits, organizations cannot ignore the host of cybersecurity risks, ranging from hacking to phishing to data breaches, as more staff operates from home on personal devices.

Deloitte’s Cyber Intelligence Center saw a spike in phishing attacks, Malspams, and ransomware attacks as attackers used COVID-19 as bait to impersonate brands and mislead employees.

While organizations must train workers on avoiding security risks, incorporating tight security processes in the digital workplace, including meticulous permissions, multi-factor authentication, and regular password resets, can help prevent cyberattacks.

Mesh 3.0, our SharePoint Intranet solution, supports secure remote access and provides organizations detailed control over what different roles can or cannot access/edit.  Mesh is built with the best of Microsoft technologies and adheres to enterprise grade security standards. It follows the security and governance best practices defined for SharePoint intranets.

Learn More: Intranet Security: Best Practices To Secure Your Company Intranet

To conclude!

To remain competitive and agile, organizations must create a collaborative and future-proof digital workplace that helps improve individual performance and team-level productivity, enhance collaboration, fine-tune the organization’s performance through useful metrics, and improve staff morale with delightful employee engagement.  

As seen above, Mesh 3.0 acts as a comprehensive and cohesive digital workplace and gives employees access to everything they need to function productively.

To know more about Mesh, feel free to schedule a personalized consultation with our experts.