What is a Digital Workplace?

Run a Google search for what is a digital workplace? and you will uncover over six million results.

What you won’t find however is a consistent definition. As the popularity of the term digital workplace has increased, so too have the interpretations. Not since the emergence of Big Data, have so many experts felt the need to weigh in with their explanation.

Part of the reason it’s been so challenging to nail down a definition is because the line between the physical office and the place where work actually happens is becoming more blurred.

Definitions also vary because the digital workplace means different things to different people.

Since the concept changes according to industry and individual, we’ve never really managed to progress beyond an abstract or theoretical definition. Each variant is inherently ambiguous.

The History of the Digital Workplace

Up until recently the term workplace referred to a physical space where employees went to get work done. Now the term is more conceptual. A workplace is now an always-connected environment that provides instant access to everything employees need to get work done.  

As far back as 2009, Paul Miller, CEO and founder of Digital Workplace Group (DWG), included digital workplace in his lexicon. It was conceived as an understanding that an exploration into how technology would affect both the workplace and the nature of work would be necessary.

A few years later, Miller authored the book: The Digital Workplace: How technology is liberating work. Miller’s angle focused on the evolution of the workplace and how work happens.

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How-to guide for intranet content audits

intranet content audit

A content audit is the process of cataloging all the pages and files on your intranet (as well as file server and other content repositories) and determining the quality and usefulness of each content piece.  But before we get to the guide, let’s first consider what a content audit is, and why it’s good for your intranet.

Yes, content audits require effort, but they are critical because they are the first (and arguably the most important) step in developing a solid information architecture (IA). Good IA is necessary if you are aiming for any level of intranet adoption.

intranet content audit

But before you organize anything, you need to know what you are organizing. This is where a content audit comes in.

Why an intranet content audit is important

Not only is a content audit an important step in building an optimized,  user-friendly IA for a new intranet, it can also help determine if your current structure needs some TLC.

As Kristina Halvorson, CEO of Content Strategy Agency BrainTraffic put it, “A Content Inventory is Your Friend.” Halvorson recognized the benefits of content inventories, identifying content owners, or finding items still in need of updates.

A content audit isn’t simply a rote admin task. Rather it lays the groundwork for many important next steps and can help to:

  • Identify active content owners  and build engagement
  • Discover useful material you didn’t know you had
  • Reduce migration costs and free up server space

Step-by-step guide to intranet content audits

Based on our experience of conducting numerous intranet audits for clients, we’ve come up with a few steps to help you manage and sort through your intranet content.

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What Collaboration Really Means

The word collaboration is so overused and overhyped it’s becoming meaningless. People refer to all software with a social component (Chat, messaging, document sharing, etc.) as collaboration software; and this causes confusion.

Even with the launch of new intranet software and other collaborative tools, some people still suffer from, and complain about, poor collaboration.

This forced us to ponder the true nature of collaboration and explore its many dimensions. Most importantly, we discovered that collaboration is a deeply human activity, and no tool on its own can solve the problem of poor collaboration.

This may seem obvious, but many people believe that “if you build it, they will come”, and if you just launch a tool like an intranet, the magic will happen. We know that organizational culture and managerial practices can either hinder or nurture collaboration, but it took a lot of failure and org dev theory to discover that fact.

A useful definition for collaboration

In response to bad collaboration we wanted to craft a definition that could inspire a more holistic, useful, and simpler perspective. We eventually landed upon this definition:

Two or more people working together towards shared goals.

That’s it — just nine words to define collaboration. It’s a very simple definition. But simplicity is necessary when collaboration has become overly-hyped, where social business vendors are trying to sell new ways of working to confused companies, and where business experts constantly stress the importance of building more collaborative and innovative organizations.

collaboration is

Dissecting collaboration

This simple definition includes three parts:

  1. Two or more people (team)
  2. Working together (processes)
  3. Towards shared goals (purpose)

This definition doesn’t mention technology or software, but it does provide a solid framework for understanding what collaboration is and isn’t.

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Webinar: Are you getting the most out of your intranet?

After working with hundreds of organizations on their intranet projects, a common theme has emerged: Companies seek out an intranet to solve a communication, collaboration, culture, or even a content challenge.

Whether you’re just beginning your project and aren’t sure what kind of objectives to set, or you are further along in your intranet journey and want to see how other companies are solving challenges similar to yours, this webinar will surface best practices that you can start using right away.

Join us and other members of the intranet community on Wednesday, March 28th, to:

  • See what our clients are doing with their intranets
  • Learn tactics around using the intranet to fulfill organizational objectives
  • Have your questions answered by an expert (he has seen it all!)

This webinar is now complete. View the recording:

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How to Better Communicate Your Intranet Requirements

Are you a company looking for a new intranet? Are you looking for a way to make your evaluation process a lot easier?

Selecting an intranet solution can feel overwhelming. There are many different products and platforms available, which makes differentiating between them all a little challenging.

Most organizations will appoint a project owner (usually a communications manager, IT manager, or HR manager) to gather requirements from project stakeholders, identify a list of vendors, and evaluate these tools against the requirements to ultimately make a recommendation and selection.

While this process “works” in the way that something ends up being purchased, it often results in the selection of a product that doesn’t quite meet the needs of its users. Software is often purchased based on features, whereas success hinges on its usability. Sure the platform has all (or most) of the features deemed important, but if they are difficult to use, employees won’t be able to get work done.

How can organizations avoid this trap? Capturing the needs of stakeholders is important, but the form of those needs and requirements is critical. A while back we received a set of requirements from a potential client who was in the process of evaluating ThoughtFarmer. They sent us a detailed spreadsheet with their requirements, as expected. But what was different was the way they documented their requirements.

Instead of a list of features written as “the system shall do X,” they instead took each requirement and placed it in the context of the user.

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Recorded Webinar: 10 Key Steps to a New Intranet Solution

new intranet

Are you trying replace your old, barely used intranet? Want a fresh, engaging, collaborative intranet?

Get expert advice on building requirements, evaluating vendors, and procuring a new intranet solution. We’ve condensed 10 years of experience and hundreds of intranet installs into a concise, easy-to-follow 10-step process.

This webinar will help you answer the following questions:

  • How do I align intranet objectives with business goals?
  • How do I write intranet requirements that will deliver on my objectives?
  • How do I evaluate different intranet vendors and ensure their product matches my needs?

This webinar is a companion piece to our Intranet Buyers Workbook. We recommend downloading and reviewing the guide prior to attending the webinar. Whether you ultimately decide to get ThoughtFarmer or another intranet solution, this webinar will make sure you have the right foundation for selecting and implementing a successful intranet solution.

Watch the recording

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The Popular Vote: Our Most Visited Content of 2017

Thoughtfarmer Blog

This year has been an exciting year of “mosts” for us at ThoughtFarmer. For example, we had our most successful launch with ThoughtFarmer 8.5, we hosted our most successful conference with ThoughtSummit 2017, and welcomed the most amount of visitors to our ThoughtFarmer blog.

Having so many intranet-curious folks visit our blog is awesome for a whole host of reasons: it tells us if our content aligns with industry trends, it tells us what type content piques your interest, and it gives us our product team a real insight into how we could plot our roadmap. But you don’t care about that, you want to see our most popular posts on the ThoughtFarmer Blog from 2017, ranked, right?! Well, without further ado:

  1. 25 Creative Intranet Launch Ideas

  2. What is an Intranet? The Definitive Explanation

  3. Cutting through the hype: what collaboration really means

  4. Mechanistic and organic organizations

  5. Use these 14 questions for a corporate culture audit


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Building a Culture of Gratitude with Peer Recognition

employee recognition

Remember that time you accomplished something amazing at work and your colleagues and bosses couldn’t stop praising you? And then you went home, inspired, and ready to do it all again the next day?

If that doesn’t sound familiar, it might be time to reconsider your workplace’s approach to employee recognition.

Over 200,000 employees were recently studied by the Boston Consulting Group and asked what their number one reason was for enjoying their work. The answer?: feeling appreciated. Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly) compensation didn’t appear until number eight.

None of this is really a shock though, is it?

There isn’t an employee out there who doesn’t want to be recognized and appreciated for their work. Yet sadly, many managers often wait until an annual performance review to deliver feedback. And even worse—the feedback in a performance review tends to focus on negative stuff rather than the good stuff.

When done well employee recognition has a multitude of benefits. From decreased turnover and lower absenteeism, to increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction…shall I go on?

Skeptics will argue that recognition programs don’t work, are too fluffy, or that organizations do this stuff solely to make themselves look good. While hopefully that isn’t the case, it’s not difficult to understand where this skepticism stems from. A lot of organizations have failed to effectively implement an employee recognition program that works.

For employee recognition to truly be successful, it needs to be embedded in an organization’s culture, and it must be authentic.

The good news is that Thoughtfarmer has tools that make it easy for organizations to recognize and applaud employees.

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ThoughtFarmer + Google Drive

Google Drive Integration

Those of us familiar with Google Drive love how easily it allows users to store and synchronize files in the cloud, and how easy it makes collaborating with other teams and users. A key component of the G-Suite, Google Drive became an almost overnight hit (there are now over 800 million active Google Drive users), due to the ease with which users could simply transfer and share files securely. With a simple drag and drop, the files were there.

And now, thanks to our recent software update, Thoughtfarmer clients can enjoy all the benefits of file sharing without leaving their intranet.

The latest release of our software includes an improved Google Drive integration option. You can now easily gather any files you have on Google Drive and keep them in one central location on your intranet.

What does it actually do?
Our new and improved Google Drive integration brings all the greatness of content sharing into your intranet. You can easily share Google files and communicate to the entire organization, department, or teams. There is no need to leave your intranet to share and review documents. Also, because both applications sync automatically, your content will always be current.

What about Permissions?
The security permissions within Google will carry over right into your intranet. So, if you don’t have the rights to view a particular Google Doc in Google Drive, you are not going to be able to see it in your intranet. It is therefore important that any document permissions are set up correctly within Google first.

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Simplify Role Clarity With ThoughtFarmer’s Org Chart

Org Chart

In a small organization it’s pretty easy to identify who does what, and who reports to whom. But what about in a large organization? What about in a fast growing company? Or what about during a merger or acquisition?

Without a simple way to understand an organization’s reporting structure, how will employees find the people or information they need to correctly do their job?

As you probably already know, an org chart (organizational chart) is a diagram that displays the organizational structure as well as relationships and reports. It is an excellent way to gain an immediate perspective of all the people within the organization and their roles.

Understanding organizational hierarchy is important—not just for employees, but for an entire organization. When employee roles and organizational hierarchy are transparent, we can ensure responsibilities are allocated to the correct individual.

Some of us may have had negative experiences with org charts in the past—and rightfully so. First generation org charts were often nothing more than a PDF document that reluctantly needed updating every time there was a new employee. They also weren’t interactive, which meant there was no immediate way to directly connect with a colleague, or to update information in real-time.

Our New Org Chart

Thoughtfarmer has removed the pain associated with frustrating org charts and has replaced it with a brand new visual and dynamic organizational chart. Available in the latest release of Thoughtfarmer, it’s a welcome evolution from a traditional list view. Users can now immediately understand the structure within an organization, see relationships, as well as gain a clear understanding of who does what.

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