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Helen Day immersed in her digital workplace bubbleI spent 14 years in a busy corporate office and today I work in the digital workplace, often physically sitting alone. So how does working in the digital workplace feel compared with a traditional physical office?

My office-based ex-colleagues still ask: “Don’t you get lonely? Don’t you get distracted with laundry and household chores? Aren’t you tempted to just go off to the gym? How do you know your team are doing what they should be doing? Don’t you miss talking to colleagues and working as a team?”

Far from it… I’m totally connected in my digital workplace with my team across the globe, from the moment I sit down.

I travel for around 20% of my work time and for most of the other 80% I’m at home. I take my very important morning coffee to my physical desk, in my home office in my converted loft, overlooking my garden. I switch on my PC. I have my iPad and iPhone to hand, and my cordless headsets for my phone and PC ready. And immediately I’m immersed in my digital workplace. Even though I say this, it doesn’t come as a surprise, especially as technology plays a part in a lot of businesses. One thing I can say about working at home is that it does feel more relaxed, as I can manage my own schedule and time. There’s no one there peering over their screen at me. There are times where I have even thought about switching up my home office, to increase productivity. Working at home does have its advantages and I feel comfortable there, which I love.

We have working sessions with Digital Workplace Group (DWG) members (what is intranet benchmarking?) via WebEx; we have team meetings using video conferencing and WebEx; I have 1:1 catch-ups with my team members via Skype; I still live in my Outlook inbox even though email is becoming passé; there are “water cooler” team chats, work related and social, on our team Yammer network. We collaborate through Google Drive, use Basecamp for project documents, archive files on our shared drive, track customers and prospective customers through our web-based CRM, connect to potential clients and our industry network through LinkedIn, converse outside our own business via Twitter and Google+.

I virtually “lean over the desk” to talk to team members using Skype as an instant messenger. At any point in the day I can have eight IM windows open, be working on three or four Google docs, be reading Yammer, be on a Skype call and have Tweetdeck open, and of course there’s still email.

I’m so immersed in my digital workplace my husband brings me lots of cups of tea, because otherwise I’d forget to drink. He has accused me of working in a bubble for a long time now. I used to just dismiss his bubble comment, however just recently at a Digital Workplace Forum (DWF) meeting we talked about the relationship between the digital workplace and the physical workplace and I realized that my husband’s right (please don’t tell him!). I’m so immersed in my digital workplace bubble that I almost completely disconnect from my physical space. I look out of the window at my garden and occasionally notice my snoring cat in the corner, but really I’m lost in my digital workplace bubble.

Sometimes my bubble moves to some shaded nook in the garden on a hot summer’s day, to a train seat in one of my trips to London, or to a cafe somewhere between meetings, but it’s the same bubble. I love my job. I work with an amazing team who are based across times zones nine hours apart. We have clients across the globe but we have no office. The whole team works this way. Most of the time I’m totally connected with them, our clients and our tools from my garden-view loft at home.

Is there a downside? For me it’s that I am so immersed in my bubble I can be glued to my chair all day without even noticing. While I love the focus and engagement I have in my digital workplace bubble, I’m sure all that sitting isn’t too healthy. So maybe soon I’ll be taking tips from my colleague Angela Pohl’s post: 5 tips for incorporating fitness into a desk job. In a month or two my digital workplace bubble might find its way to a treadmill.

So, do I miss team contact, get distracted by the laundry, get lonely, get tempted away from work? No, never. I’m too busy talking to my team, talking to customers and solving challenges in my very busy digital workplace bubble!

Join my digital bubble on 14 & 15 May

On 14 & 15 May I just might be in that bubble for a full day and night for Digital Workplace 24. See the schedule of live intranet tours and digital workplace innovations and sign up for a free pass.

Helen DayHelen Day is the Group Managing Director of the Digital Workplace Group (DWG), responsible for the management and development of its main businesses. Her role includes chairing DWG member meetings in the UK and Europe and developing business strategy along with our customers. She also has overall responsibility for DWG Membership Services, team development and core functions such as Finance and IT.

Follow Helen on Twitter @helenday

About the author

Helen Day - DWG's Managing DirectorHelen Day is the Group Managing Director of Digital Workplace Group. Her role includes chairing DWG member meetings in the UK and Europe and developing business strategy along with DWG clients. Prior to joining DWG, Helen worked for 14 years at the UK-based pharmacy chain Boots the Chemists, now part of Walgreens, where she set up the organization’s first intranet. She led an award-winning site-wide redesign as well as projects to consolidate seven business intranets – some international – and to roll out a new group-wide CMS and portal.

When not working, Helen spends much of her time trying to fit in 10,000 steps a day, controlling crazy cats, renovating a 1930s house to its former glory and learning how to use all the food its orchard garden produces.

Connect with Helen on Twitter at @helenday.

One Comment

  1. Thanks for the post. I work at home a couple days a week. I find my biggest challenge to be on “slow days.” It’s easy to stay focused when there are lots of small demands on my time like quick tasks, conference calls, or IMs from co-workers. However it’s easier to lose focus at home when I only have longer term projects to work on. I find that sitting in an actual office enviroment works better for me on those “slow days.”

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