Mar 28 2023
Digital Workspace

Creating the New Digital Workplace

Culture is even more important than technology as organizations move into a new era of work.

During tech boom of the dot-com era in the 1990s — and extending into the early days of Web 2.0, which took technology on its next steps — the business press was enamored of the trappings of Silicon Valley office culture. By the fourth paragraph of any article about Google or Facebook, it was practically a requirement for journalists to mention pingpong tables, keg refrigerators, executives wearing sneakers and, of course, beanbag chairs.

The objective of these workplace perks was to help companies attract talented workers and provide them with an enjoyable office experience that would make them more likely to remain employed with those companies. Decades later, this is still a top goal for employers. In fact, recruiting and retaining top talent has become a mission-critical concern not only for technology companies but also for most industries.

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Todd Ketterman, executive technology strategist for CDW, says the digital workplace — a term used to describe access to data, applications and collaboration tools that allow employees to work from anywhere, on any device, at any time — is critical for supporting and empowering these workers. But even more important than the specific technology, Ketterman says, is the culture surrounding it. And by “culture,” he doesn’t mean funky furniture, but rather the ways that teams work together to advance the mission of the organization.

“I’ve worked alongside companies that have used their digital workplace solutions to allow certain teams to work essentially whenever they wanted,” Ketterman says. “They were given certain jobs and tasks, but if they wanted to do them at two in the morning, then they could do that. I love that idea. I think that that’s very forward-thinking.”

LEARN MORE: Read CDW’s white paper “Achieving a High-Performance Digital Workplace.”

Three Key Components of a Digital Work Culture

While culture can be an amorphous term, Ketterman identifies three components needed to create a culture that best supports the digital workplace. First, he says, organizations must hire employees who can thrive in the digital workplace, and they must provide additional structures and supports to those who need them.

“I’m not saying you should take people straight out of college and tell them to go do whatever they want,” Ketterman says. “But if we can get out of this 9-to-5 thinking, we’ll see a lot of benefits, including improved quality of life for employees. A lot of the folks who are coming into the workplace right now are really far ahead of the curve with how they work. They don’t have that Stockholm syndrome that I had early in my career, where I thought that I always had to be putting in more hours.”

RELATED: How the right solutions make it easy to support the modern digital worker.

This sort of work culture requires organizations to emphasize business objectives over busywork or “seat time,” Ketterman notes. “When people know what they’re trying to accomplish and they’re given the right tools, they will do amazing things,” he says.

Todd Ketterman
If we can get out of this 9-to-5 thinking, we’ll see a lot of benefits, including improved quality of life for employees…The productivity of your team is going to increase twofold.”

Todd Ketterman Executive Technology Strategist, CDW

Establishing a workplace that accommodates this new era of work requires strategic thinking. Users need powerful, flexible tools to maintain productivity regardless of time or place, and organizations must establish workflows that deliver the experience employees expect. Taken to another level, advanced tools can help companies take advantage of data-driven insights and automation to further optimize productivity and efficiency. 

UP NEXT: Find out the advanced networking solutions you need to optimize digital work.

Ketterman says it is crucial for organizations to establish a climate of trust — within teams, between teams, and up and down the organization. In fact, he says, building this trust might involve the occasional game of foosball or Hacky Sack, harking back to the early hallmarks of casual IT culture

“You go have a really good time, and then you come back and get to work,” Ketterman says. “When you interact with your coworkers like that, the productivity of your team is going to increase twofold.”

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