Digital workspace benefits and the digital transformation
The digital workspace is quickly becoming the default space where work gets done. As business processes become more and more automated, and as we adjust to the ‘new normal’ of hybrid and remote work, companies need to create streamlined digital work environments for all employees.
In this article, we explore new technology frameworks for the modern office, focusing on the benefits of a digital workspace.
What is a digital workspace?
The digital workspace encompasses all the digital tools employees use to do their work. Ideally, these digital tools will consolidate into one integrated workplace management system (IWMS). This creates a technology framework that lets employees access all the tools they need, from anywhere.
Employees no longer have to sit at one physical workstation and/or computer to access their files, applications, and other tools. Instead, with a well-optimized digital workspace, they can have a ‘virtual desktop’ that travels with them.
Critical components to a digital workspace
Specifically, a digital workspace includes four critical components:
- Communication and collaboration tools, such as email, of course, but also project collaboration tools, video conferencing software, and other cloud-based apps designed for sharing both files and ideas
- Cutting edge technology such as IoT sensors or a Visual Directory that creates more visibility for all workers
- Wayfinding and digital signage in the physical office to help connect the digital workspace to the ‘real world’
All these components need to offer secure access in real time, on mobile devices and whatever other tools an employee uses.
When employees can access all their apps and digital workflows securely from a single sign-on (SSO), suddenly, they are freed up to work from anywhere. This can include their laptop, their smartphone, the desktop in their parent’s basement, or wherever else..
As such, a digital workspace that focuses on user experience is critical to supporting hybrid work.
Namely, hybrid workers, by definition, need to be able to work from anywhere. This is because they do work from everywhere: from home, from on-premises, and from the road. Only when they have easy access to digital workplace solutions can hybrid and remote workers truly capitalize on the benefits of a digital workspace.
In other words, the only truly flexible workplace is one where all team members can access the same tools digitally.
Digital workspace vs digital workplace
People often use the terms ‘digital workspace’ and ‘digital workplace’ interchangeably, which is not surprising due to their overlapping natures.
Without splitting hairs, a digital workspace is like the virtual workstation for employees. This is where they can access all the tools they need to accomplish their individual tasks.
Meanwhile, the digital workplace is the overarching network of tools that both individuals and the entire team use to collaborate and manage workflows.
Ultimately, we’re in an era of digital transformation. Virtualization, automation, and other advances are forever changing how we do business.
It’s the digital workspace and the digital workplace combined that create the best outcomes for both employees and employers.
What are the benefits of a digital workspace?
The digital workspace is what allows companies to embrace both new technologies and new ways of working, making it a necessity for the modern office.
Companies that streamline their digital ecosystem can expect to see the following eight benefits from the digital workspace.
1. More flexibility
Without real tools to support it, ‘flexibility’ is just a buzzword. Unless employees have easy remote access to their workplace tools, they’ll be tethered to the office, no matter what the official workplace policy may be. In short, it’s the digital workspace that makes flexibility possible.
2. Increased productivity
As we’ve learned during the pandemic, hybrid workers tend to be more productive. When companies empower employees to do their best work regardless of where they are, they usually rise to the occasion.
A key benefit of the digital workspace is that it can give employees more control over where they work. They can choose the space where they can be most productive.
This can prove especially helpful for parents, caregivers, and others with extenuating circumstances that make clocking in for a regular 9-to-5 challenging.
It is also critical to supporting agile work, a growing workplace trend that aims to ramp up productivity by championing true flexibility and allowing employees to choose when, where, and even how they work.
3. Better collaboration
We’ve had decades to use technology to communicate in the office. AOL might have been revolutionary in the ‘90s, but team members today need a lot more than email alone to collaborate effectively.
The right tools in a digital workspace can replace the watercooler of past days. This creates real-time networks where employees can share ideas, share files, and share the types of silly yet important relationship-building tidbits that used to happen in the breakroom.
This can be especially important for supporting the hybrid workforce, and/or teams across multiple geographic locations.
4. Happier employees
More and more, companies are understanding that investing in employee experience is a smart business move. And not just the right thing to do.
When the digital workspace focuses on the end-user—i.e.: the employee—companies are able to create dynamic positions that attract and keep top talent, ultimately leading to a better office for everyone.
5. Reduced real estate costs
A good digital workspace can help companies save money on real estate and related expenses. That’s because the more a company is able to support hybrid and remote work, the less space they may need on-site.
Especially when facility managers (FMs) are able to track how employees are actually interacting with the physical office, they can help make better use of their company’s real estate portfolio.
Not only can they often reduce expenses, but their carbon footprint may reduce as well.
Of course, this assumes FMs are using tracking tools to improve space utilization, which themselves can integrate into the digital workspace.
6. Enhanced security
Technology always presents some risk. Good digital workspaces can dramatically improve your risk-to-reward ratio in this area.
Like we’ve covered, companies have been using email since the AOL days. Many still rely on what are ultimately outdated, piecemeal technology solutions.
Bringing the digital workspace under the umbrella of one technology framework that IT manages is the best way to enhance security. This is often best when FMs collaborate with IT, and when they work together to shore up building automation system security.
7. Access to global talent
Thanks to the previously mentioned Great Resignation, we’re in an era of ample competition. Simply put, it’s an employee’s job market.
Gone are the days of putting a job ad in the paper and keeping your fingers crossed for the right candidate. By embracing the digital workspace, you’re also embracing global talent. Not to mention, greatly increasing your chances of finding great new staff members. A good digital workspace can also make onboarding new staff much easier.
8. Improved safety
The pandemic has forever changed how we see safety in the workplace. The ‘health’ in ‘health and safety’ is now taking center stage.
We know that employees only want to return to the office if it is safe to do so, which means they want real assurances that health measures and social distancing will be taken seriously.
A final key benefit of the digital workspace is that by supporting hybrid work, it makes it easier to cap the number of people sharing a physical space. This makes a safer and healthier work environment for everyone.
How do you create a digital workspace?
A digital workspace is like a carpenter: only as good as its tools. And it’s critical that all these tools be well integrated.
In order to create a functional digital workspace, a company needs to use comprehensive workplace management software that consolidates tools into one easy-to-access space.
Like we’ve covered, this will ideally mean an SSO, and likely cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS).
Finally, as we move away from the physical office and its physical assets, some companies are choosing to offer remote employees a stipend to outfit their home office.
Shopify famously led the charge at the start of the pandemic, offering its employees $1000 for office supplies in an effort to ease the transition to working from home. Many companies big and small have since followed suit.
Given the greater cost savings that can be garnered from remote work, these types of offerings often make sense, helping to maximize both the digital workspace and workers’ investment in it and their company overall.
How can you maximize your digital workspace?
Companies can maximize their digital workspace by keeping the focus on employees and their needs. The spotlight should always be on making it easy and safe for workers to access everything they need, from anywhere. This will ensure the digital transformation benefits everyone, not just those at the top.