Embracing Digital Tools in the Workplace

3 minute read

Opinion Piece by Matt Jackson, IOG Research Director

As the calendar flipped to 2019, perhaps one of your resolutions was to work smarter. If this is you (and even if it’s not), the following tools can help you manage your time, workflow, and help you achieve your outcomes in 2019 without all the overtime you logged in 2018.

While enterprise versions of the platforms below typically are not free, they usually offer a trial period for testing to see if the software is a good fit and different pricing tiers based on the size of your organization and/or frequency of use. As usual, make sure that you check out these services to make sure their policies and privacy settings work for you (and your IT staff)!

Social Media Management

Communicating all the great things you are doing to the rest of the world is a key function of most organizations. Between Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and, yes, even still Facebook, managing your professional social media can be a full-time job. A social media marketing and management dashboard, like Canada’s own multiple award-winning Hootsuite, can ease the burden, allowing you to schedule content on each of these platforms so you can spend more time developing that next great piece of work.

Other options: Spredfast, Sprout Social

Messaging Applications

With remote work and distributed teams on the rise, keeping everyone in the loop can be a challenge. Rather than rely on messy email chains or group texts, consider using a messaging application like Slack to communicate with your team, share documents, and manage meetings. Messaging applications can also help to build cohesion among the team dedicating social feeds where you can share personal news the way traditional teams do by taking breaks together or catching up in the hallways, over coffee, or at lunch.

Other options: Whatsapp, Microsoft Teams, Workplace

Presentation software

Sick of delivering the same old PowerPoint deck? While Prezi isn’t new, this cloud-based presentation software package is an alternative to traditional decks and can make your next talk more fun and engaging. Rather than scroll through a series of slides, Prezi zooms in and out of a single canvas, which helps you tell your story while also allowing presenters to adapt on the fly to respond to audience questions and/or comments. Prezi also allows includes features like audience insight analytics, control over privacy setting (beware the free edition makes presentations public), and automatic translation.

Other options: Emaze, Haiku Deck

Data Visualization

Even if you are not a data scientist, chances are that in the digital age you need to find creative ways to clearly communicate important and often complex data. If you are not an Excel power-user or fluent in R (and even if you are), a business intelligence program like Tableau can help you easy discover and analyze your data and present it in a way that promotes greater understanding and use of data to make evidence-based decisions across your organization. Most programs allow you to connect to pre-existing data sources and embed your content within the tools that you already use. The larger platforms also have user communities, blogs, and support to help you step your data game up in 2019.

Other options: Visme, Qlik

Password Manager

How many passwords do you have? Personal email, work email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Airbnb, Dropbox, fantasy sports platforms, the baseball blogs you used to write for in the evenings, Ebay, cellphone and internet service provider portal(s), GitHub, Kijiji, LinkedIn, Netflix... the list undoubtedly goes on.

A 2018 workplace survey showed a quarter of employees use the same password for everything and a healthy dose of introspection may reveal that you don’t update them often enough, if ever. The convenient answer for most is to save their passwords in their web browser and automatically sign in to websites using those stored credentials. Outside of the Opera breach, in-browser systems are fairly secure, but password managers like LastPass offer the added benefit of helping you set and update different random and complex passwords for each account and then remembering them for you. All you need to remember is your master password! Is it a little bit less convenient? Sure, to start you’ll have to set up your password manager, but strong password hygiene might be the best new year’s resolution you could make.

Other options: 1Password, Dashlane

About the author

Matt Jackson

Matt Jackson


Matt supports the Institute's work on Digital and Public Governance, with an interest in the implications of new technology, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence. He has a strong track record of managing research projects from planning to completion, making evidence-based decisions, and providing actionable policy recommendations. Mr. Jackson is fluent in mixed-methods research methodologies as well as statistics.

Prior to joining the Institute, Mr. Jackson was a Senior Research Analyst with R.A. Malatest & Associates, Ltd., an independent Canadian Program Evaluation firm, where he managed several large-scale projects for federal, provincial, and municipal government clients, as well as private industry.

Mr. Jackson has completed an M.Sc. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, and also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Carleton University.

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