04 March 2016

Digital disruption and the future of the Australian workplace

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Digital disruption seems to be the buzzword of the year. Regardless of how else it is described, the move towards a digital economy and a digital workplace is changing the way teams are formed, operate and function.

It’s rare for a company in today’s economy not to have teams all over the world. Having a team in the Philippines, another in Singapore and various other staff members in other countries reporting to someone in Sydney is not a proposition that is considered strange today. The days of all staff operating in the same office are gone, as businesses attempt to get the most bang for their corporate buck.

Developing a digital workplace is the way of the future. A digital workplace is more than just a funky looking portal, or a collection of state of the art apps. It takes as much commitment as the clunky old open planned office of yesteryear.

Having a team of mobile workers, offshore workers, and locally based staff provide a variety of issues for HR Managers.

American telecommunications company Verizon focused on mobile services for its staff. They created an environment dedicated to content and processes providing their staff with in-depth knowledge on what to expect and what tools to use while they were out of the office. This created a transparency for the staff, giving them access to data and knowledge regardless of whether they were in the office or on the road.

Giving mobile workers higher levels of knowledge transforms the traditional way mobile workers do business. Regardless of whether the employee is one of 300,000 or a delivery driver for a courier company, having direct access to important information empowers the employee. A digital workplace effectively puts the business directly into the hands of the staff, leaving less need for a centralised hierarchy of management.

While digital disruption changes not only the way we use businesses as a consumer, it also how we do business as an organisation, it remains important to remember not to turn your back on all the traditional tools used.

Governance, strategy and measurements may seem to be almost redundant in a digital workplace but they are essential if your organisation is to continue to thrive. IKEA, one of the world’s leading brands, and a leader in digital workplace adoption contribute their success in part to their focus on culture, and insight as well as how the company’s focus on strategy, governance and measurement. A digital workplace depends on the success of the apps and productivity tools a company develops but without effective management and leadership there’s no longevity.

Developing a digital workplace is no longer a “one day, maybe,” proposition. As organisations such as Accenture (whose CEO now considers it to be a virtual organisation), IKEA, Addidas, Adobe, EY, Verizon and Coca-Cola blazes the trail in digital workplace adoption, the impacts of digital disruption on traditional workplace models continues without pause.

The question we need to ask now isn’t “will we invest in a digital workplace,” but “how long before our own digital workplace is ready?”


As the Australian Government talks up innovation as a main priority, corporate Australia needs to realise they stand on the cusp of a disruption to the way they do business larger than they’ve dealt with before. 

Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service.

Mike has worked for some of the most well-known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy. Mike’s first published work will be the short story Seeds of Eden, in the Sproutlings Anthology scheduled for release in March 2016.

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