Digital Placement at Work
The book Digital Inferno contains many practical activities for placing the digital realm consciously, at home, on the go, and at work. In the book, you’ll find the idea of placement suggested as a key way for individuals, groups and organisations to gain mastery over the digital realm in ways that creates more benefit and helps work to become more meaningful, effective and less stressful.
Placement takes many forms. We become more effective in our use of thew digital realm when we make conscious choices about how, where and when we make use of its devices and platforms. We aren’t locked in, nor habitually “always on” – the digital realm becomes a consciously managed and used aspect of our physical working lives.
Ways to Use Placement in the Digital Realm
3. Functionally and Sensibly
4. Mentally and Emotionally
We can place our digital devices and our digital activity temporally (in time). Here we locate digitally-based work at specific times of the day. This can enable us to focus more effectively, make smarter use of our time, and also frees up other time for non-digital activities such as face to face meetings, reflection time, reading and decision making that is better without digital distraction. It also acknowledges certain times of the day when our energy is better suited to digital work. It can also enable us to be more mindful of colleagues who work in different time zones around the world.
We can place our digital devices spatially. At home this can involve a dedicated room for our digital activity – our screen and gadget time. We keep devices away from our bedrooms, giving us less distraction and better sleep. We can create a specific place where we charge all devices and leave them when we aren’t using them. This can reclaim the home from constant digital intrusion (If we don’t want that). At work, we can also have purpose-designed digital work spaces and separate these off from meeting spaces were focus on face-to-face is vital. We can also create smarter meeting and working areas that better allow us to invoke digital technology when we want it but also remove it from view and de-activate it when it isn’t needed. Here the default isn’t “always on” but “on where and when needed”.
We can place our devices functionally and sensibly. Here we invoke the use of our digital gadgets and platforms, not as an habitual default, but where it makes sense to do so. We embed them and build them into our business and working processes where and when they are needed only. Technology can be booked, used, and then “unhooked” at different stages of a business process. It is easy to draw down needed programs, devices and decision-making aids just-in-time, as and when needed, in non-buggy ways. We are not “always on” and we know when a face to face meeting will be more effective than an email. We have the skill of “discernment” knowing how to choose between different digital and physical communication methods. Some processes function better with different digital and physical methods.
We can place our devices mentally and emotionally. This is more of a personal, “inner skill”. It involves being able to use self-discipline and know when or when not to respond to digital calls upon us. We can choose not to reply because it makes more sense to sleep on a decision o to collect more information. An email may be emotionally quite charged and we are masters of timing, knowing how and when to respond. We do not deal with everything in a reactive way but place digital content in ways that best enable us to make wiser, evidence-based, more emotionally-intelligent decisions. We may, more generally, choose to detox a bit from the digital realm, having a day away from it. On other days we may consciously dive in and fully immerse. In all cases, we are the ones consciously in control, not locked into digital reaction out of habit or compulsion.
Placement involves three key activities:
Invoking is activating, switching on, running one or more digital process and linking digital processes together.
De-activating involves the will power and the ability to switch devices and digital processes off in favour of either silence or a physical process.
Discerning is the core ability to select when a digital process needs to be invoked and when it needs de-activating or switching off.
These three skills represent a new and emerging skill set in the realm of digital working. There’s currently little overt training and development in these areas, resulting in digital working in organisations that it often adhoc, reactive and inefficient as well as risky and stressful.
Digital Inferno contains many activities that trainers can use to start to up-skill leaders, managers and other staff to become more skillful in placing the digital in the realm of work.
As part of my own work with businesses and public organisations I help them to enhance their placement of the digital realm – their smartphones, tablets, their social media, their intranets and communication platforms. This sometimes takes the form of an away-day, a reality check, a “pow wow” to finally get on top of the digital realm in their working environment. in some cases it takes the form of skills training, learning the practical skills of placement. Ultimately it is a more ongoing process of building the digital consciously in the strategy of the business, in the design of work – ensuring that working processes – physical and digital – serve the purpose of the organisation. It lies at the core of the organisation’s digital strategy and we have to enquire into it continually if our organisation is operating is a highly dynamic environment.
If you are looking for a tangible next step in bringing a more conscious approach to the digital realm in your work place, there are number of things you can do:
Five Practical Steps Forward in Digital Placement at Work
1. Carry out an audit of typical days and work flows and collect some data. Where does digital activity integrate logically and effectively? Where is there waste in the use of resources? Where is there information overload, overlap and process that simply isn’t logical? Where are the stress points and where are digital processes being used inappropriately?
2. Put the issue on your next meeting agenda where your review strategy or key processes. Get a discussion going and use the placement model above to see where the gaps and opportunities are. Pick a short-term area for a pilot project and experiment with some change.
3. Embed these digital placement skills more clearly into training and development and build the behaviours into new employee induction as well as forming part of appraisal and reward. Recognise behaviours that are more digitally smart and wise
4. Lead by example from the top. Build these behaviours into leadership and demonstrate their importance through guiding behaviour
5. Look specifically at how, when and where people meet, digitally and physically. There may be small changes that can be made immediately to meeting rooms and working areas that better empower people to practice placement
Pick just one of these actions, and you’ll be on the road to a much more effective and conscious engagement with the digital realm of work.
Paul Levy is the Author of Digital Inferno