Many IT departments were caught out in mid-March, when entire workforces suddenly needed to start working from home. Since then, it has become clear that this is not a temporary switch, but the start of a longer journey – including in terms of technology.
We have various workplace configurations that give employees a great deal of mobility and are geared to the specific needs of the individual departments.
Oliver Schorer sees mobile working as just one aspect of an overall concept. “The digital workplace is an integrated usage concept that requires the right technology, the right platform and the right mindset. It needs to be adaptable because the requirements of companies and employees are continuously evolving. Businesses that succeed in managing their digital workplaces as flexibly as possible – and on an international scale – will be the ones that see the most benefit.”
Thomas Henzler also views the digital workplace in the broader context of digitalization: “Our digital workplaces are a combination of processes and technologies on the one hand and the ability to deploy them efficiently on the other,” he explains. “This combination creates a flexible structure that enables us to work on almost any device available, including iPads, iPhones, and laptops.”
“A digital workplace that addresses all of these aspects is more easily accepted by employees,” affirms Peter Janze, Managing Director and CIO of Digital@M, the digital consultancy of the City of Munich. He also confirms that buy-in is more likely, the more that processes have already been digitalized. Nonetheless, he also believes that technology is just one part of the bigger picture. “The switch to digital workplaces needs to be accompanied by internal marketing, the influence of opinion leaders, and other supporting activities,” says Janze.
In terms of applications, the main feature of remote working over the past few months has been the use of online and video meetings. According to a joint study conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) and the German Association for Personnel Management (DGFP), a substantial 93 percent of the surveyed companies said that they held online or video conferences all the time. Almost two-thirds reported that they now conducted staff appraisal meetings digitally and 57 percent said that they even used video conferencing to interview job applicants.
“Remote working is here to stay and will form the basis for the systematic digitalization of business processes and the digital workplace,” predicts Janze. He also emphasizes that the digital workplace journey has by no means reached the end, especially from a technological perspective: “The digital workplace does not just come in the form of new IT infrastructure that fosters collaboration, it also underlines the need for a new architecture.”
Peter Janze is probably right that remote working will remain popular across the board even after the coronavirus crisis. People who are now working from home are satisfied on the whole, despite some initial concerns. This has been confirmed by a number of surveys. According to a report from the Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation (bidt), “there is a very strong desire to be able to work from home more, with around 68 percent of the surveyed employees saying that they wanted to work from home more regularly after the coronavirus crisis.”