The term “digital workplace” is bandied around much like “big data” and “cloud computing” have been. But, as with those technologies, when you dig below the hype, you find it does offer very real benefits.

Having a digital workplace means allowing useful on-premises and mobile technology to automate tasks, empower effective working, and improve collaboration and crowdsourcing of ideas across teams — regardless of location. It leads to improved ways of serving customers, increased revenue, reduced costs, better innovation and faster execution.

Increased employee engagement is certainly among the key benefits of a digital workplace, since staff members are empowered to work with devices and apps they already use outside of work. Also, contrary to popular belief, working from home often minimises distractions and boosts productivity. For example, a Stanford research paper found a 13 per cent productivity boost for Chinese travel agents working from home.

Meanwhile, businesses known for success in this area can more easily attract and retain talent. Robust online social networks, Deloitte noted in a study, can boost staff satisfaction by a fifth and cause a 7 per cent increase in productivity.

Gartner analyst Carol Rozwell told “Your digital workplace should help individuals and teams work more productively without compromising operations.”

A number of organisations are succeeding by implementing this style of working. Dulux paint maker AzkoNobel is one of them and it has increased user satisfaction levels among its 46,000 staff to above 80 per cent with the help of workplace management from DXC Technology. As part of a comprehensive digitisation strategy, the company made a big move to mobile computing and new ways of working.

Meanwhile, supermarket giant Tesco has streamlined IT support with a DXC walk-in centre. Any of the 6,000 employees at the company’s headquarters can go in to have their queries addressed, dramatically improving satisfaction and productivity, and raising the favourable perception of IT support.

Crucially, to sustainably advance employee engagement in the digital workplace, businesses must ask staff members how well their existing tools function, and what they might need most to become more productive. Technology should never be introduced for its own sake, but rather as it is needed and wanted by the people who will use it. Network Rail serves as an instructive example: The company’s engineering staff asked for digital order-management tools, which subsequently enabled it to slash administrative tasks by 40 per cent.

For businesses, the first step toward creating a digital workplace must always be to ensure they have the vision and strategy to revise working practices, with complete buy-in from the C-suite and from staff. They must establish a strategy for coordinating all initiatives across departments. There must also be the right metrics in place to gauge success, without compromising the privacy of any individual.

The introduction of a digital workplace ultimately involves shifts in organisational cultures. Businesses must be sure to have the processes, technology structures, incentives and skills in place to manage change to maximum effect.