The Digital Workplace Skills Framework – Elizabeth Marsh

by | Mar 8, 2018 | Digital workplace, Reviews

For me one of the highlights of the IntraTeam 18 Event was listening to James Robertson (Step Two) talking about the Digital Employee Experience (DEX). As James highlighted, organisations spend a significant amount of time and money working on a customer digital experience but pay little attention to digital experience of employees. The recent publication of a report entitled The Digital Workplace Skills Framework by Elizabeth Marsh (Digital Work Research) is therefore very timely indeed. Elizabeth worked for Reuters and T-Mobile as an intranet manager, and then moved to the Digital Workplace Group as Director of Research. This report is the outcome of taking time out to gain an MSc in Psychology. As a result the 37 page report is an astute blend of practitioner experience and academic rigour.

The report begins with a consideration of digital literacy, a concept that dates back to the 1990s. As a note in passing, the associated term of “information literacy” was coined by a good friend of mine, Paul Zurkowski, back in 1974. There are many definitions of digital literacy. Elizabeth has chosen “Digital literacy is the awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools and facilities.”

The four segments of her digital workplace framework are Using the Digital Workplace, Process and Apply (which includes discovery), Create and Connect and Think and Adapt. Each of these has four facets. As an example, Process and Apply has the facets of Access, Evaluate, Assimilate and Apply. Elizabeth provides a very clear commentary on each of the sixteen facets, and in doing so highlights the complexities of ensuring that employees have an appropriate range of digital literacy tools for the roles they are being asked to undertake. An especially valuable feature is a set of questions for each facet that can be used to assess skills levels. To take the Access level as an example

  • I find it difficult to formulate a search query on the intranet.
  • I am able to identify the information I need in the digital workplace to do my job.
  • I can easily find experts to answer questions in the digital workplace.
  • Finding the information I need to do my job involves a lot of wasted time.

The report concludes with a very useful list of references to research papers and books on digital literacy models and on related topics. When you look at the citations the range of journals that see digital literacy as an element of their scope is very wide indeed.

This is a very well researched and presented report. The clarity of the writing makes the topic very accessible and the high production quality means that you could send it to the most senior management level in your organisation with the confidence that they will open it, read it, and hopefully discuss it. Too much of the hype about digital workplaces focuses on adoption levels of the technology. This report makes it clear that the level of active adoption is explicitly linked to the digital literacy skills of those who need to use the technology. An initial read of this free report will take you no more than a cup of coffee. Then I guarantee you will go back to the beginning and read through again much more slowly and with an increasing realization of the work that lies ahead for your organisation if it is to achieve its vision for a digital workplace that engages and empowers your employees.

Martin White