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Digital workplace needs a business manifesto

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A business manifesto should be an essential tool in communicating the intentions and motives of the digital workplace, according to Gartner.
Organisations can struggle with communicating and implementing broad policy changes like those generated by digital workplace initiatives.

“The core idea behind the digital workplace – boosting employee engagement and agility through a more consumerised work environment – can be hard to translate into tangible actions that are easily understood by the broader community,” says Matthew Cain, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“The core principles and desired outcomes of a digital workplace need to be explained in plain language that reflects the culture and values of the organisation, while offering prescriptive guidance. The digital manifesto is essentially a marketing vehicle to make the digital workplace actionable and real to all stakeholders.”

The manifesto is aspirational in nature and should inspire employees to take action. It is complementary to other, more formal documents, such as the digital workplace vision, the strategic plan, the execution strategy or various detailed project management-related planning documents. The manifesto provides a way of communicating the broad goals of the IT organisation, of which many employees are largely unaware.

Sample manifesto statements include:
* Endeavour to “work in public” – where projects, research and activities are available to anyone in the community or the organisation to spur awareness, collaboration and, ultimately, innovation, while respecting personal privacy.
* Continuously expand literacies – new media, information, technical, for example, to spur personal growth and help the company thrive in the digital economy.
* Create a sense of belonging and ownership through novel thinking and the use of employee-chosen devices, applications and other services to facilitate personal and organisational agility and effectiveness.

The manifesto needs to be in concert with existing workplace policies. Organisational change efforts for the digital workplace are extensive and Gartner recommends that organisations:
* Develop a common vision of the digital workplace, and make sure it is widely understood and has a consistent message.
* Convey the digital workplace message using a variety of communication approaches such as town halls, videoconferences and social media.
* Use peer advocates to translate the top-level vision into the specifics that enable stakeholder groups to engage and take action.
* Actively promote self-organisation and localised decision-making by employees to formulate and implement the digital workplace.
* Encourage leadership to embrace and demonstrate digital workplace values (lead by example).

“The manifesto should help guide and clarify the corporate culture as well as helping employees to understand and embrace it,” says Cain.

“Culture can be strong in headquarters but less so for employees in remote locations. A healthy digital workplace can bring the corporate culture alive to all employees, regardless of location. Employee engagement and organisational culture are important elements in the competition for new talent and prospective employees increasingly look at culture and engagement as important factors when choosing an employer.”