What is a digital workplace?

By Elle Holder

8 min read

What is a digital workplace?
Illustration by Tiffany Tsai

Back in the day — way, way back in the day — someone had the job of town crier. Before the internet, even before the telephone, this person shared important information by standing in the middle of a town square, busy street, or marketplace and reading out a message. 

Can you imagine what would happen if you were home sick that day and your friends weren’t talking to you? You would have no idea about what’s going on.

Thankfully, those days are long gone, and our modern workplace is driven by digital technology. But the digital workplace isn’t just about replacing town criers with telephones and telephones with the Internet, it’s about a shift in how businesses operate. It’s also about automating tasks and pushing innovation, as it integrates technology across all aspects of work and changes how employees collaborate, communicate, and access information.

Why understanding the digital workplace matters

Back in the 90s, when digital technology first started to flourish, some probably thought of it as nothing more than a useful perk, but today we know it’s essential. Whether your teams are fully remote, hybrid, or entirely in-office, a digital workplace provides the tools and infrastructure to function efficiently and collaboratively. With a full understanding of what a digital workplace entails, businesses are in a position to create the type of environment that attracts and retains top talent and encourages productivity. 

Digital workplace definition

It used to be that the concept of a physical office space was the only definition of the workplace. But the digital workplace — especially since 2020 — has emerged as a significant alternative, transforming how we work and collaborate.

In this case, there are no limitations because of physical location, like having to be present when the town crier read out his message. Here, information flows freely through multiple channels, and employees can access information and engage in real-time discussions whenever necessary. It’s an integrated ecosystem of technologies and platforms that gives employees the tools and resources they need to be able to work effectively, anytime, anywhere.

Evolution of the workplace

As mentioned above, the traditional workplace was characterized by physical offices with rigid hierarchies and reams of paper. The typical employee worked fixed hours in a centralized location, relying on in-person interactions and manual methods of doing their jobs. Communication was typically face-to-face or through email, and this often led to bottlenecks and inefficiencies in information flow.

In contrast, the digital workplace is a complete shift in how work is organized and carried out. Without the constraints of physical boundaries, employees are able to collaborate seamlessly across any time zone or location. Remote work, flexible schedules, and virtual teams have become commonplace thanks to the digital tools and platforms we have today.

Key technologies that have driven the shift

Where we are today wouldn’t be possible without some key technology:

  • Cloud computing: Cloud-based solutions have revolutionized how businesses store, access, and manage data. Cloud infrastructure makes it possible for organizations to scale their operations, reduce overhead costs, and enable remote access to resources from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Mobile technology: With everyone having a smart phone, tablet, laptop — or any combination of them — employees are no longer chained to their desks. Wherever they are, they now have the ability to stay connected and remain productive, even on the go. And mobile apps for productivity, communication, and task management enhance this ability.

Core Components of a Digital Workplace

So what are these tools and platforms? To name a few:

  • Collaboration tools: Platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom are indispensable for team communication. They make real-time messaging, video conferencing, filesharing, collaboration, and project management possible regardless of location.
  • Project Management: Whether you need lists, calendars, charts, or boards, you can manage your workflow with tools like Asana, Monday, or Trello.

The role of AI and automation

The digital workplace is all about interconnected tools and technologies, and now, more than ever, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation play a huge role in streamlining workflows, boosting productivity, and creating efficient workplaces. Between

  • Automation tools: Repetitive, mindless tasks are now automated, freeing up employees’ time for more strategic work and creative problem-solving. Think of the difference of the town crier needing to go to some well-populated spot to read his announcement and how mass announcements are automated today.
  • Enhanced communication and collaboration: AI chat boxes can act as virtual assistants, answering employee questions, directing them to relevant resources, and even helping with basic troubleshooting. This not only improves accessibility to information but also removes some of the burden on employees who might otherwise be fielding repetitive inquiries.

The benefits of the digital workplace

The digital workplace offers a wealth of advantages for both employees and employers, bringing together a more engaged, productive, and successful work environment.

For employees:

  • Flexibility and remote work capabilities: Thanks to technology, it’s possible to tear down the walls of the more traditional workplace. Employees are able to access and complete tasks from anywhere with an Internet connection. This flexibility empowers them to achieve a better work-life balance, manage their personal commitments, and potentially work from a location that suits their needs.
  • Enhanced communication and collaboration: With open communication channels, employees can readily share ideas, ask questions, and collaborate on their projects. Digital tools like videoconferencing, instant messaging, and project management platforms eliminate geographical barriers and provide a more collaborative work environment. This can lead to a stronger sense of connection and community among colleagues.

For employers:

  • Increase productivity and efficiency: Automation streamlines workflows, reduces administrative burdens, and allows employees to prioritize tasks. Additionally, real-time communication and collaboration tools ensure that everyone is on the same page, minimizing delays.
  • Talent attraction and retention: Employers who have a robust digital workplace have an advantage. The flexibility, work-life balance, and collaborative environment they offer are sought after by top talent. And, typically, by empowering and engaging employees, a digital workplace can increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover, leading to a more stable and experienced workforce.

Implementing a digital workplace

Creating a successful digital workplace will require careful planning and a strategic approach. Here’s how to lay the groundwork for your business:

Strategy and planning:

  • Alignment with business goals: Your strategy will need to align with your organization’s overall goals. Identify key objectives, such as improving collaboration, boosting employee engagement, or streamlining workflows. This ensures that the chosen technologies and implemented practices directly contribute to achieving your desired outcomes.
  • Assessing technology needs and employee training: Every company is not going to need or want the same bells and whistles. So it’s important to tailor your strategy to your specific needs. Evaluate existing technologies, identify any gaps, and choose the tools that will seamlessly integrate with your current infrastructure. And remember, even the best technology is useless without proper user adoption. Invest in a comprehensive employee training program to ensure that everyone is comfortable and proficient when it comes to using any new tools and platforms.

Key challenges and solutions:

  • Overcoming resistance to change: It’s only natural that some employees may be apprehensive about new technologies or changing their way of working. Promote transparency throughout the process, clearly communicating with them the benefits, and address their concerns openly. Launch pilot programs and involve employees in the decision-making process so they all have a sense of ownership.
  • Ensuring data security and privacy: Security and privacy are important in any workplace, whether it’s physical or virtual. Implement security protocols, conduct regular training on cybersecurity best practices, and ensure that all your digital tools comply with data privacy regulations.

Case Studies

We’re not suggesting you do something that hasn’t been done before. Here are two companies that successfully transitioned to a digital workplace.


The strategy: In an effort to transform and redefine their workplace culture and operations, Microsoft chose to embrace its own suite of productivity tools, including Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive. These tools would provide access to seamless collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing among their employees. Pairing them with their Azure cloud services also provided a scalable and secure platform for remote work and collaboration. Additionally, they deployed AI-driven analytics solutions to provide them with actionable insights from data, which made it possible for employees to uncover trends, predict outcomes, and drive innovation.

The outcomes:

  • Improved collaboration: Employees experienced enhanced collaboration and communication, regardless of their physical location. Teams reported increased productivity, faster decision-making, and greater flexibility in how they work together.
  • Enhanced productivity: The integration of AI-driven insights allowed employees to prioritize tasks, automate routine processes, and focus on high-value activities.


The strategy: Infosys — with a geographically diverse workforce — was finding it difficult to collaborate across different time zones. Their strategy focused on implementing a cloud-based platform that integrated videoconferencing, instant messaging, and filesharing. Additionally, they created a centralized knowledge base where employees could capture and share best practices, project documents, and their personal expertise.

The outcome: The company reported a significant rise in collaboration between teams, leading to faster project completion times and improved client satisfaction. Their improved digital workplace led to a more engaged workforce, with employees feeling more connected despite their geographical distance.


The digital workplace isn’t just a trend, it’s the future of work. By embracing your own strategy, you can create a dynamic and collaborative environment that empowers your employees, streamlines workflows, and unlocks new levels of productivity and success. When you do, you create a workplace that has a sense of community and open communication, where employees have access to the information they need and are able to seamlessly connect with their colleagues. This will lead to:

  • Increased employee engagement and satisfaction
  • Enhanced collaboration and innovation
  • Improved productivity and efficiency
  • Talent attraction and retention

But it doesn’t end there, since today’s workplace is constantly evolving, driven by advancements in technology. Here are a few exciting trends to watch:

  • Immersive technologies: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality could create even more immersive and collaborative work environments
  • Advanced analytics: When data analysis becomes even more sophisticated, it could enable companies to optimize workflows, predict challenges, and make better data driven decisions in real time

A focus on employee success boosts productivity and joy

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Elle Holder

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