How many of your employees have company email addresses? Are you still printing documents, information, forms and payslips for those 'unconnected' non-desk employees while the rest of the organization gets everything sent to their inbox? When it comes to getting feedback and sharing company announcements are you relying on cascading communication from managers?
Never before has the digital access and literacy in the workplace become more important and urgent because of the wide gap between those who have easy access to the internet, email and digital technology and those who do not, like frontline and non-desk employees. Commonly known as the “digital divide”, universal access is more important than ever. As the internet and digital communications becomes increasingly embedded in the lives of employees and business, it is more critical than ever before to ensure digital literacy and access for everyone in the workplace.
The concept of Digital Inclusion is a way of addressing issues related to digital literacy and access to Information and Communication Technologies. One definition of digital inclusion from The National Digital Inclusion Alliance, "Digital Inclusion refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).”
Digital inclusion in the workplace should be a practical approach that addresses the needs of employees as a whole. It encompasses not only access to the Internet but also the availability of hardware, software, training for the digital literacy skills required for effective use of information and communication technologies, and most importantly in the workplace access to applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration.
Digital inclusion is like a blueprint for addressing and guiding the ability of businesses and employees to fully embrace the benefits of the digital age. Being a full participant in this new technology will enrich the lives of employees as a whole and make sure that no one is left behind.
Understanding why Digital Inclusion and Equity is important can help businesses identify where they may be falling short, and what interventions and efforts they need to put in place to ensure digital inclusivity in the workplace. Digital Equity in the workplace means that all employees have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in the business. This means giving access to information and communication technologies to all employees in the business, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of what these technologies enable, so no one is excluded.
Think about the ICT technology and information that desk-bound employees are able to easily access compared to that of non-desk employees. The simple act of getting a payslip or important company new on email, as opposed to a printed copy is just one way that highlights the digital inequality in the workplace. It is far harder for non-desk employees to get information from the company than for desk-employees, which in turn disadvantages them from full participation in the business.
The eternal struggle of any company is keeping desktop and non-desk employees aligned, and often leads to poor communication, low morale and a negative impact on employee engagement. This can result in losses for productivity and employee turnover, costs that are often hidden and make it hard to pinpoint issues.
Creating a digitally inclusive workplace requires intentional strategies and investments to reduce and eliminate historical, institutional and structural barriers to access and use technology and information. This can feel like a huge task because it means that companies need to take the time to develop plans that intentionally address creating digital inclusion. Part of that plan will include the costs needed to implement that plan, which often include hardware, software and licensing costs that can become quite significant, especially if a large part of the workforce are non-desk employees. Email seems like an 'easy win' but the cost of additional email licenses for a large part of the business that will only use it for a fraction of the time a desk-employee would, makes it difficult to motivate with those that hold the budget. While enabling equal access to technology and information may be a top priority in the business, the cost of practically putting that into action is often the biggest barrier in creating digital inclusivity.
So how can you start to bridge the digital divide between desk and non-desk employees in the most cost effective way that get the results you need and drives digital inclusion? The answer has been in your hands all along. Consider how most people access the internet, browse social media and get information. They're using their smartphones several times a day, which means that it is a great place to start in working towards digitally inclusive communications.
Smartphones offer companies the opportunity to reach all their employees on their own devices, and by using social messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram you're communicating with them on a channel that they're already familiar with. That means no need to develop any special apps and a high rate of adoption.
The ability to send anything from payslips, to company-wide announcements, share shift schedules and even streamlining onboarding processes makes the use of WhatsApp for internal communications a powerful and cost effective tool in ensuring you're creating digital inclusivity in the workplace.
There's a world of possibilities with the WhatsApp Business API for your internal communications, but we understand if it may feel a little overwhelming to get started. Get in touch with us to find out how Sweesh can help you kick your communications into high gear without needing to develop any complicated tools.
The Sweesh platform offers an all-in-one WhatsApp messaging tool to help you achieve your communication goals and become a champion of digital inclusion in the workplace!
See Sweesh in action by booking a demo with one of our Product Specialists - firstname.lastname@example.org