Technology plays an ever increasingly important role in the day-to-day employee experience. Digital workplace application leaders must invest in digital employee experience to build the digital workplace of tomorrow. For example, investing in AI-driven tools that provide digital worker insights can help remediate technology issues and improve employees’ digital skills and experience.

Here are three key strategies that digital workplace leaders can explore the use of new tools, technologies and practices to build the digital workplace of tomorrow.

Invest in Metaverse Technologies

Gartner predicts that through 2027, fully virtual workspaces will account for 30 per cent of the investment growth by enterprises in metaverse technologies and will “reimagine” the office experience.

Metaverse technologies are being used by organizations to provide new collaboration and connection options for employees. Virtual workspaces will grow beyond focusing on virtual worlds to include spatial computing experiences in physical offices. Gartner expects that by 2026, the second and third iterations of spatial computing glasses will arrive, creating a more pervasive metaverse experience connected to the physical world. Some organizations are already exploring the use of metaverse technologies to support new employee onboarding in a hybrid world. Successful virtual workspace programs will increase the ability to hire diverse talent, and bring together employees for quality collaboration regardless of geographic location.

Accept That Employees Prefer Working and Meeting Virtually

Gartner data shows that digital workers are spending more time working in corporate offices than they would like to. Virtual workspaces offer spatial computing technologies which will allow for more physical collaboration than what currently exists in traditional offices. For example, spatial audio support enables spontaneous sidebar conversations and collaboration by replicating how sounds emanate from their sources as they would in a physical space.

According to a recent Gartner survey, digital workers prefer to have virtual meetings over in-person meetings. Hybrid meetings are the least preferred meeting type for employees, and only 27 per cent of workers say their conference rooms are updated to support hybrid meetings. The hybrid meeting room experience is so poor that Gartner predicts that, by 2025, more than 65 per cent of workers worldwide will avoid joining hybrid meetings from a formal conference room, instead choosing to join meetings digitally from their own desk or office.

Digital workplace application leaders are turning to immersive meetings and metaverse applications to reimagine their organizations’ meeting culture. Hybrid meetings are often an inequitable experience for employees due to technological and social barriers.

To bridge this equity gap, organizations are using features such as smart galleries, where the participants in the meeting rooms are digitally divided into individual windows, giving an equal screen representation to all participants.

How to Implement Virtual Workspaces

Gartner predicts that by 2025, 10 per cent of workers will use virtual spaces for activities such as sales, onboarding and working remotely. As remote-first and hybrid organizations fully mature virtual workspaces, the digital employee experience will become the new center of company culture.

Organizations should not expect their employees to engage in virtual workspaces for the entirety of their workdays. The purpose of virtual workspaces is for interactions such as brainstorming, product reviews, and social gatherings.

Organizations must define expectations for integrating existing technology into virtual workspaces. Pilot the user experience with a small number of employees who have experience interacting within virtual environments, such as virtual gaming. This will help determine best practices before virtual workspaces are rolled out to a larger community of employees. Finally, choose vendors who support an array of device types to ensure everyone can take part in the virtual workspace.

Gartner analysts Christopher Trueman, Lane Severson, Marty Resnick and Tapan Upmanyu contributed to this research.

Tori Paulman is a Sr Director Analyst at Gartner, Inc. where they provide thought leadership on digital workplace leadership and digital employee experience. Gartner analysts will provide additional analysis on digital employee experience at Gartner Digital Workplace Summit, taking place June 12-13 in San Diego, CA.

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