The digitization of the workplace has been ongoing since Alan Turing invented the first computer to break German codes during World War II. Quick to seize on their usefulness to do calculations faster and more accurately than humans, businesses have been inventing new uses for them ever since.
At the end of the 1990s, the rollout of the Internet and the adoption of email as the dominant method of business communication took the digital transformation of the workplace to new heights. The invention of first mobile phones then smartphones has further accelerated this.
Today, a workplace need not mean a single physical location. Teams and team members can be spread all over the globe. A variety of digital tools and software are needed to create a workplace that fosters productivity and collaboration among remote teams.
These tools can boost cybersecurity, communication, accountability, efficiency, and employee satisfaction within your company. This guide explores some of the best software solutions and tools to build an optimized and secure digital workplace.
What is a digital workplace?
‘Digital workplace’ is the term used to describe how many companies operate in the modern era. Instead of being confined to physical sites, a digital workplace utilizes tools and technologies to create an interconnected organization with a blend of remote, in-office, and hybrid working.
The COVID-19 pandemic opened our eyes to new ways of working. Since then, companies have adopted the digital workplace style and are reaping the benefits.
By cultivating a digital workplace and allowing for various working styles, your company can attract the best talent and retain your current employees. You’ll notice reduced costs, increased productivity, and a happier and healthier work atmosphere.
Top digital workplace tools for 2023
Digital workplace tools are crucial in creating a functioning and productive digital workplace. Your employees must have all the tools they need to succeed, but they must also be accountable and transparent in their work, particularly when you can’t monitor them in person.
Every company should deploy the appropriate tools to grow and succeed in the modern business world. Here is the top software you should look to get in 2023.
If your company is heading towards a digital transformation, you need Time Doctor. This time-tracking tool monitors your employees’ activities without being overly intrusive.
Time Doctor is a leading digital workplace tool because it gives your workforce accountability for their activities. By tracking your employees’ productivity, the software reassures you of high-quality work, even with a remote or hybrid workforce. Time Doctor enables full transparency in your workplace operations.
The real-time analytics that Time Doctor provides gives you insights into when your employees are at their most productive. This means you can assign high-priority tasks at the most productive times and support workers to reach their full potential. With Time Doctor in your digital workplace, you’ll increase productivity, satisfaction, and staff retention.
Office productivity tools
Digital collaboration tools have revolutionized the meaning of teamwork. These tools bridge geographical and time barriers, enabling seamless collaboration among teams—whether working from the same office or scattered around the globe. Let’s look at two of the most popular tools.
Microsoft Office 365 is a suite of applications that cater to various professional needs, including the ubiquitous Word, Excel and Powerpoint. With Office 365’s cloud-based nature, collaboration becomes effortless as multiple users can work on the same document simultaneously.
Google Workspace offers a competing comprehensive suite of cloud-based tools, such as Docs and Sheets, that facilitate real-time editing and commenting. This ensures teams can work together cohesively on documents or spreadsheets without dealing with version control issues or long email threads. With Google Workspace, you get the added advantage of seamless integration with other Google services.
In the digital workplace, employees must remain connected to one another to ensure maximum efficiency throughout the company. Group messaging services such as Slack and Microsoft Teams are prevalent in organizations since they provide an easy and secure way for team members to communicate.
The best group messaging systems integrate with other digital office tools, offer extensive customization options, and provide a clear and functional user interface. These are all characteristics of Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Chats, Zoom, and others.
Secure business communication among colleagues and clients is vital because work-related messages often contain sensitive or confidential information. The emergence of the digital workplace has created more remote workers, meaning secure messaging is even more critical.
Let’s consider Slack as an example. It goes beyond a simple messaging platform and has revolutionized team communication with features like channels, direct messaging and integration capabilities. Teams can use it to organize conversations by projects or departments, ensuring that information flows smoothly and efficiently. Additionally, its ability to integrate with various other tools makes it a central hub for many businesses.
On the other hand, Zoom has become synonymous with video conferencing. When face-to-face meetings became challenging, Zoom stepped in to fill the gap by offering high-quality video calls, webinars and virtual meeting rooms. Its breakout rooms and screen-sharing features have made collaborative sessions more interactive and productive.
Microsoft Teams’ seamless integration with Microsoft 365 makes it a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. Teams brings together chat, video conferencing and file storage, creating a comprehensive platform for team communication and collaboration. Microsoft-owned Skype also deserves mention as one of the pioneers in online communication. It provides both text chat and video calls, showcasing its reliability and adaptability through its long-standing presence in the market.
Immersive team applications are also starting to go beyond video to introduce virtual reality (VR) as a tool for business. VR apps can enhance training and team collaboration. For instance, VR can train new team members from a distance or provide remote upskilling for existing employees.
Project management and planning tools
When it comes to managing and planning projects remotely, with a distributed team, having the right software in place is essential for effective coordination. These tools act like conductors – orchestrating tasks, timelines and teams with precision.
Asana is one of the best-known examples. It’s a platform that combines simplicity with functionality and allows you to break down projects into manageable tasks, assign them to team members and set deadlines. This intuitive platform ensures that every team member is aligned with their responsibilities so that nothing slips through the cracks.
Trello is a visual collaboration tool that utilizes cards and boards to organize tasks and projects. Its user-friendly drag-and-drop interface makes project management intuitive, ensuring teams stay aligned with their goals and timelines. Another notable tool is Basecamp, which serves as a comprehensive project management solution by centralizing discussions, tasks and files all in one place.
What sets Monday.com apart is its visually appealing color-coded boards that clearly represent project progress. Its user-friendly drag-and-drop interface and automation capabilities make managing tasks feel more like an enjoyable game than a mundane chore.
Specifically tailored for software development, Jira enables detailed issue tracking, agile planning and seamless integration with development tools. It has become a favorite among developers worldwide.
Workforce management and scheduling tools
Workforce management and scheduling tools play a vital role in ensuring your workforce is deployed with optimal efficiency to deliver whatever work needs doing in a specific timeframe – whether that means working to a client deadline or ensuring your contact center has sufficient coverage for the expected call volumes.
Deputy is a powerful tool that simplifies the often-tedious process of creating schedules and ensures that businesses comply with labor laws. Its automatic scheduling feature considers employee availability and suitability for specific roles, resulting in conflict-free rosters that maximize operational efficiency.
Another solution is When I Work. With its user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, managers can effortlessly create and modify schedules. Moreover, its two-way communication feature enables employees to swap shifts easily, request time off and indicate their availability, fostering a more flexible and employee-focused approach to scheduling.
While Time Doctor is primarily recognized for its time-tracking capabilities, it provides valuable insights into workforce productivity. Monitoring work sessions generates detailed reports on how time is utilized, empowering managers to identify bottlenecks, optimize task allocation and ensure peak efficiency within the workforce.
Keeping employees engaged and motivated presents an ongoing challenge for many organizations, but especially when you can’t physically interact with your staff. Gamification tools have emerged as an innovative solution by incorporating fun and healthy competition into work environments to encourage desired behaviors and prompt teams to meet KPIs (key performance indicators).
Kahoot! serves as a great example of this innovative approach. While initially created for educational settings, many businesses have embraced it for training and development. By incorporating interactive quizzes and challenges, Kahoot! makes learning more engaging, leading to better retention and comprehension compared to traditional methods.
Spinify is a gamification platform that aims to enhance team performance. It provides real-time data visualization, including dynamic leaderboards, which fosters healthy competition and recognition. You can also celebrate achievements through badges and personalized videos, ensuring that employees feel valued.
Bunchball Nitro integrates the concept of leaderboards, points and challenges into daily tasks, creating an environment of competition and achievement that drives productivity while encouraging employees to surpass their benchmarks.
All these tools ensure that employees stay motivated and engaged in their work and strive for excellence, wherever they are working.
Continuous learning tools
Everything moves at such a pace these days, that the ability of employees to adapt and learn new skills has never been more crucial. Continuous learning tools have become essential assets that keep professionals at the forefront of their industries by equipping them with the necessary knowledge to excel.
Coursera has been a guiding light in this field. By collaborating with renowned universities and organizations worldwide, it offers a wide range of courses covering various subjects, from data science to business management. With its structured modules, assignments reviewed by peers and recognized certification upon completion, it has become a popular choice for those seeking depth and breadth in their learning journeys.
Udemy, with its extensive and diverse collection of courses, caters to learners of all levels and interests with on-demand video lectures and interactive content that ensure a comprehensive learning experience.
LinkedIn Learning, an extension of the prominent professional networking platform, focuses on career development and improving skills. Its courses are tailored to industry trends and taught by experienced professionals. Not only does it provide valuable insights, but it also offers certifications that can be directly showcased on one’s LinkedIn profile.
Continuous learning tools bridge the gap between traditional education and the ever-evolving demands of the professional world. They foster a culture of growth and adaptability.
Smart virtual assistants
Many companies are now embracing virtual assistants to optimize costs and enhance productivity. By harnessing the power of AI and automation, these intelligent VAs can efficiently carry out tasks or offer valuable insight to employees. This streamlines business processes and reduces time-consuming interactions with customers and colleagues.
Leveraging NLP (natural language processing) and LLM (large language model) technology – which powers Chat GPT, for example – smart virtual assistants can be deployed to assist your employees and customers. Once trained on your organization’s data, they can be queried using spoken natural language, just like you use Alexa or Siri at home.
SVAs facilitate communication among team members, automate repetitive tasks, aid in project management, provide access to business knowledge through natural language chat interfaces, and deliver real-time data analytics. For remote and hybrid workforces, SVAs can help ensure teams remain synchronized and well-informed regardless of their physical locations.
Smart virtual assistants are increasingly becoming essential in the decision-making process. Their ability to analyze large data sets provides valuable insights that assist businesses in making well-informed choices. These VAs can seamlessly integrate with various enterprise software, ensuring your organization has a cohesive digital environment.
Some of the leading vendors offering enterprise-grade VA software include IBM Watson, Kore.ai, Aisera and Leena.ai. By 2025, nearly half of all knowledge workers will rely on smart virtual assistants daily, highlighting their crucial role in shaping the future of enterprise operations.
The cloud and cybersecurity
The backbone of the digital workplace is the cloud. It is where virtually all the tools we have discussed are run. Cloud computing has been a revolution for many companies adopting a digital workplace. The interconnectivity and accessibility benefits are enormous for remote workers, particularly in cloud contact centers.
Cloud networks provide fast and secure internet connections for companies that operate across multiple locations. It’s ideal for remote and hybrid working since employees can connect to the same network and use the same tools without needing to be in a particular vicinity.
The cloud is also great for storing and retrieving data. Information is uploaded to a digital space where it is encrypted and stored securely. Company employees can then easily access that data from anywhere in the world. This is why the cloud has become an essential tool for digital workplaces.
For organizations that make the move to the cloud, digital security becomes hugely important. The broader a company expands, the more it opens itself to threats. Emerging security technologies can help your employees stay connected without compromising the integrity of your cybersecurity. Secure business processes, proper authentication policies, thorough employee training, and consistent oversight of employee activities are also required to ensure the safety of your cloud-based systems and data.
Encryption software is one tool you can use to improve your security. A secure SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area network) is also essential to protect all internet connections and data stored throughout your company.
Why invest in digital workplace tools?
Adopting digital workplace tools gives you a significant advantage over your competitors. You’ll enjoy fully optimized and efficient operations, as well as increased staff retention and customer satisfaction. Here are the benefits of digital tools at a glance:
- Streamlined operations
- Optimized productivity
- Reinforced cybersecurity
- Improved communication
- Enhanced efficiency
- Reduced timewasting
- Increased staff satisfaction
- Higher revenue
Take the BPO platform Cloud Humans, for instance. They wanted better insight into their freelancers’ productivity and needed real-time analytics without the effort of retrieving them. By introducing Time Doctor into their digital tools roster, they found a cost-effective way to track their remote employees and reassure their clients of high-quality work.
Similarly, the e-commerce business Habitium started using Time Doctor to mitigate productivity issues during growth. Digital workplace tools like Time Doctor create scalable solutions that allow companies like Habitium to maintain flexible remote working schedules without compromising efficiency.
The digital workplace is the future of work and isn’t going anywhere. As a result, you need to start integrating some of the digital tools listed above into your company’s operations to see future growth and success.
Digital workplace tools have huge benefits for modern businesses. They can improve productivity, streamline operations, facilitate communication, and provide many more services related to efficiency and security.
Try Time Doctor today and book a free demo with us, and we can show you how your company can benefit from our innovative software. Alternatively, take advantage of the 14-day free trial and give Time Doctor a spin.