Digital Workplace Futures

Where next?

We hope you have enjoyed this retrospective on the digital workplace, and that it helps think about how to incorporate new tools and approaches in the future.

In closing, we will summarise what we think are some of the next ‘shifts’ we will see in each of the areas this report has covered.

But don’t forget the basics…

It is important that we embrace new developments and technologies that can improve the digital workplace, but we should also remember that many organisations are still stuck with simple intranets – communication platforms, rather than work platforms – so let’s not forget the basics!

  • SHIFT 1: Social Software
  • SHIFT 2: E2.0 platforms
  • SHIFT 3: Social Business
  • SHIFT 4: Digital Workplace

NEXT SHIFT: Technology

  • Increased focus on automation – focus on utility – how does it make the digital workplace better?

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will shift to team helper bots that are in channels with people

  • Simple AI and machine learning used to create smart agents for finding and responding to relevant content

Getting to Next...

Automate The Basics: Identify those basic processes that waste human brain-power and automate them with a simple connected chatbot in the digital workplace, leaving leaders and teams free to focus on higher value-added tasks. Good candidates for automation are daily team check-ins/check-outs and gathering/distribution of reporting inputs.

NEXT SHIFT: Ownership

  • From single CDO/CIO to Coalition of digital leadership

  • Comms no longer ‘own’ channels, but help everyone communicate better

  • Employee Experience becomes the north star for digital workplace development 

Getting to Next...

Assemble Your Digital Leadership Group: Create a digital leadership group made up of key stakeholders to share ownership of digital workplace strategy. This group should act as a strategic guiding force and co-ordinator for transformation and the digital workplace development.

NEXT SHIFT: Community

  • More cross-silo communities, more cross-border customer/partner communities

  • Temporary communities as a strategy for exploring new topics and solving complex questions

  • Communities at the edge given role to feed intelligence/needs to the centre

Getting to Next...

Open Up To Your Customers: Create an external customer community linked to an internal community in your digital workplace to discuss new products and services. Use your digital guides to consult with customers on what they think the future holds, and sense and respond in real-time.


  • Less focus on ‘branded’ visual design, more on connected experience design and service design

  • More diverse environments and toolsets with local/contextual integration, not a single overarching intranet

  • More customisation and app-store flexibility of tool choice

Getting to Next...

Design Your Digital Employee Experience: Map employee journeys and see how they can be improved using service design ideas. Help teams design their own experience by giving them access to apps, libraries of example use cases and space templates.

NEXT SHIFT: Collaboration

  • Less ‘use this tool for this use case’ and more focus on collaboration methods with more freedom for tool choice

  • More indirect, background collaboration using smart tech, agents and bots

  • Better remote collaboration using augmented reality, video and real-time conversation tools

Getting to Next...

Launch A Digital Hub: Create a Digital learning hub where people can ask questions, seek help, share the way they use tools and learn from each other. Just as gamers use online communities to share their preferred ‘load outs’ of equipment for different game challenges, employees can do the same for work.


  • Set the bar higher for digital skills and more self-directed learning and development

  • More focus on developing hybrid skillsets and mindsets as well as deep technical specialisms

  • Real-time talent mapping and agile talent strategies

Getting to Next...

Map Your Digital Talent: Use the digital workplace to identify hybrid skillsets, and invite employees to feed into a conversation on what skills may be required for the future of your organisation. From here, you can start to map existing talent hotspots, and highlight where high-value resources can be shared.

NEXT SHIFT: Change Agents

  • Change agents / guides given formal roles and recognition

  • Use them as early warning systems for new trends, technologies and competition

  • Guides work within communities to encourage emergent leadership

Getting to Next...

Mobilise Guides to Support Digital Learning: Use your digital guides network to facilitate a learning community to help people identify and try new ways of working using new digital tools. Equip guides with the resources and training they may need to fulfil this role and enable them to start effecting change.

NEXT SHIFT: Leadership

  • If you are not present and influential in the digital workplace, you are not a digital leader

  • Leadership will adapt to mixed human / bot environments and accept it can no longer make all the decisions

  • Leaders as organisational architects to develop the digital workplace into the organisation of the future

Getting to Next...

Up-skill & Engage Leaders: Run a leadership adoption and engagement programme to highlight and reward those who help others by actively participating in using digital tools. Focus on use cases and ways of working specific to leaders, such as a simple sharing protocol for working in the open with direct reports.

NEXT SHIFT: Org Structure

  • New structures and systems will emerge from the digital workplace to solve problems like planning, budgeting and reporting

  • Small teams supported by real-time tech will be the basic building block of new scaled-up structures

  • Digital workplace becomes one layer among many in organisation-as-a-platform structures and the organisational operating system

Getting to Next...

Root Out & Fix Broken Processes: Encourage a continuous improvement mindset by using the digital workplace to ask teams which bureaucratic or broken processes are getting in the way of productive work. Then, work with them to find solutions and empower them to implement fixes. When people are encouraged to own and improve a process, they are more likely to seek to improve them.

NEXT SHIFT: Measurement

  • Every action, team and service has a fitness function and a health metric to enable tracking of success

  • The digital workplace provides rich behavioural data and content to analyse for trends and performance

  • Management-by-reporting becomes a real-time part of the organisational platform when work is connected

Getting to Next...

Empower Teams In Tracking Progress Towards Change: Ask teams to define the organisational health metrics that will guide them in their work, and ask for ideas about how to improve these in regular continuous improvement sprints. Guide them to focus on value-creation over activity-based outcomes and follow up to see what is working best.

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