The modern workplace typically involves working on a multitude of different tasks within different applications to achieve your objectives. Businesses are now recognising that employees need a unified experience to work effectively and seamlessly together avoiding duplication of effort and ensuring teams can collaborate effortlessly. At the same time, how we work and where we work has changed: a change accelerated by the pandemic but one that few employers can now afford to ignore.
Having a cohesive set of software tools that bring together common tasks in a single interface provides users with a much simpler and more streamlined experience. Quite simply, the more complex or difficult technology is to become familiar with, the steeper the learning curve, the greater the pain of change for employees and the slower your adoption rate will be, which is the downfall of many an IT investment.
So, what does a digital workspace solution offer? Well, it brings together a common set of tools which enable employees to work together in a consistent and frictionless way. Not only that, but it also enables much greater flexibility, providing end-users with the ability to work from anywhere on any device. And of course, security is a key consideration when employees are working remotely and accessing business-critical centralised resources. The need to keep devices and data secure and compliant has never been more important.
What does the digital workspace look like?
Several different technologies could make up your digital workspace solution. These typically include some or all of the following:
- Virtual desktops – to give employees a consistent experience and easy remote access to day-to-day resources from outside the office or working from different locations
- Collaboration tools – to enable employees to call, chat, message and collaborate so they can meet, interact and share information easily using an intuitive tool
- Connectivity – to ensure users can connect to centralised data and applications securely using secure remote access or single sign-on (SSO)
- Security – to ensure every device used by any employee is secured using unified endpoint management that brings all corporate devices into one central management console for security and patching alerts
- Microsoft 365 – to empower your users with a cohesive suite of productivity tools including the Office 365 suite, OneDrive, SharePoint and Teams
So now we know what the nuts and bolts consist of, what approach do you need to take to build your digital workspace?
Creating the foundation for hybrid working
Before investing in any new technology, the first step will always be to assess your business needs. A lot has changed over the course of the pandemic and expectations of both employers and employees need to be considered. You’ll need to work out how your teams can be most productive.
Set your working patterns
A variety of flexible work patterns, working from home either permanently or as part of a hybrid team are all part of the mix in a digital workspace, and can impact on job retention and recruitment with employees choosing the employer who offers the work style they aspire to.
If your business hasn’t looked at all the possible options for your employees in the context of your business objectives, you may be selling yourself short, with new recruits favouring companies who can offer greater flexibility.
We’d recommend creating a blueprint for how your teams can work effectively together. Who needs to be office-based and where? How often are employees coming and going between office and home? How do they need to work together with remote-working colleagues?
Provide your teams with digital workspace tools
Next, you’ll need to enable employees to do their jobs effectively and remove any barriers in their way. This is where choosing the right tools to ensure everyone can work together effectively and securely, collaborate and stay productive working from anywhere is really important.
You’ll need to consider ease of use, reliability, security and compliance issues when deciding which tool set suits your business and ensure your digital workspace works for everyone.
Create a connected culture
It’s worth considering that while most of us have experienced working remotely during the pandemic, it takes more than just the technology to keep teams feeling connected. So, to ensure teams feel truly connected, a connected culture is important too. Employees who said their companies promote a connected culture also cited better physical and emotional well-being.
What to consider when planning a digital workspace
When evaluating how to move forward with your digital workspace solution, you would be well advised to consider whether it’s time to move from a best-of-breed approach to a common suite that brings all your core business functions together. Disparate tools can create unnecessary complexity, not to mention cost, and often don’t provide users with the best experience. And as we all know, adoption of new tools is key.
You should be aiming for a single interface that users can adopt easily and which is extendable with other apps. Intuitive tools that are easy to use and work together seamlessly create the sort of user experience that leads to success. Abandoning single-function apps in favour of a connected suite of apps which can integrate with other core tools is more likely to help you to deliver the benefits you want from your digital workspace.
When it comes to transforming your employees’ working experience, you must start at the top. You will need senior level ownership to help you manage the transition to a digital workspace because it’s not just about choosing the technologies you want to use, it’s about aligning those technologies with the overall strategy of your business.
10 tips for deploying a digital workspace
- Get senior management buy-in: Sponsorship at senior level will help you manage the transition to a digital workspace
- Align your solution and business strategy: Your digital workspace solution needs to meet your demands today and in the future. By aligning your digital workspace solution with your business direction and strategy you can meet and grow with demands
- Think holistically: Think about the whole picture and use an integrated set of tools rather than implementing individual technologies
- Create a connected culture: Involve your users and work with the existing organisational culture to help users see the path forward and the reasons for change
- Deliver business value: Focus on how you can add business value through technology, rather than technology implementation to support your organisation to thrive
- Research your options: There are multiple types of technologies that make up and integrate to create a holistic digital workspace solution. Keep an eye out for solutions that show continual innovation and the ability to build on your chosen platforms, this will ensure you’re planning for the future
- Make it easy: You want your digital workspace solution to be easily adopted by your end-users to maximise their productivity and ROI in your technology investments. By introducing better ways for your employees to do their work, with solutions that deliver a unified, consistent user experience, your implementations have a better success of user adoption
- Involve compliance and legal teams: Keep your data and workspace environments secure. Understanding risk and staying compliant is important; ignore it and you could pay the price
- Maturity level: Leverage a maturity model to understand where your organisation is on its modernisation programme and how your employees currently work. This assessment will help you identify the appropriate tools for your digital workspace toolkit
- Manage expectations: Take a measured approach to deployment to ensure success and remove risk
To summarise, Rome was not conquered in a day, and so it’s important with such a big undertaking that you decide on your vision for your digital workspace and build strategic alignment across all areas of the business. In the end, the digital workspace is a focus on delivering business value, rather than technology.