Are You Ready for the Digital Workspace Revolution?

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Tech Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for IT pros

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The digital workspace is the future of business. But what will this look like?

Article 4 Minutes

The way we work is changing rapidly. The traditional 9-5 workday in a large, open-plan office is quickly being replaced by a more agile environment, where workers are free to come and go more flexibly, choose where they work and access critical applications wherever they are, whenever they need it.

Part of this has certainly been down to events beyond businesses' control. When the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, millions of firms suddenly had to establish remote working practices, whether they were ready for them or not. But despite the initial disruption this may have caused, many employees have embraced this way of working, and won't be keen to return to the ways things used to be.

In fact, one study conducted by Gartner suggested almost three-quarters of firms expect at least some of their staff will remain full-time homeworkers after the pandemic, while many more will take advantage of greater flexibility to come into the office less often. Therefore, like it or not, more agile, digital ways of working are here to stay.

The trends changing the way we work

However, the fact is that, while the coronavirus pandemic may have accelerated plans and demonstrated to skeptical bosses that flexible and remote working doesn't have to mean a dip in productivity, it's only brought forward a trend that was already taking place.

For instance, the number of people working remotely in the US has tripled over the past 15 years, while in the UK, it had been previously estimated that - even without the effects of COVID-19 - half of the workforce would work from home at least some of the time by the end of 2020.

This has been driven by a combination of factors, but it's been enabled by huge advances in technology. Tools like cloud computing, smartphones and high-quality video conferencing make it easier to work from anywhere at any time.

What does a digital workspace look like?

The digital workspace isn't just about enabling flexible and remote working. Even within the office, it:

  • Encourages greater collaboration
  • Enables employees to seamlessly switch between devices and applications
  • Easily pick up where they left off
  • Securely access the same data

It also means greater use of automation, whether this is AI-enabled assistants or technologies like robotic process automation that can take the tedium out of many day-to-day tasks. And as many of these will be accessed through the cloud, they won't require large upfront investments to upgrade hardware and will be easily accessible from anywhere, on any device.

What this can mean for businesses is improved productivity and a better environment for employees. As they’re able to enjoy a simpler, more flexible way of working, they're likely to be more engaged, leading to higher morale and better results.

The right digital tools also ensure that security won’t be compromised by this greater agility, with technologies such as single sign-on reducing the risks associated with having multiple accounts for each service - each requiring their own username and password. Meanwhile, better visibility into network activity, users and endpoints helps firms stay ahead of threats and react quickly to any issues.

Key signs you're ready for a revolution

So how do you know when your workspace is ready for a digital revolution? The easiest way is to listen to your employees and look closely at what they're already doing. The chances are users will already be exploring new tools and ways of working outside of traditional IT-approved steps, and will be asking for solutions that can improve their experience.

If you've noticed any of the following behavior patterns or user requests, it's time to look at what you can do to formally embrace the digital workspace revolution.

  • Employees are using tools outside of IT's view. The use of consumer file-sharing apps like DropBox or video tools such as Zoom is a clear sign that users want greater flexibility or simplicity. If IT-authorized solutions are too complex or don't give people the freedom they want, they'll turn elsewhere - and this can lead to serious security risks.
  • Users are asking for better mobile options. One particular issue is the provision of tools that can be used remotely. According to Citrix, 58% of employees want their organization to provide better mobile options, while only 39% say their firm offers the right technology to enable remote working.
  • There are too many applications to keep track of. Aside from any consumer tools workers are accessing on their own, the more vendors and systems you're operating, the more complicated and costly your environment will be to maintain - not to mention the security challenges this brings with it.

Ultimately, an effective digital workspace should be unified, flexible and secure. Whether employees want to work from home or on the move, access key data securely or easily communicate and collaborate with colleagues around the world, the right technologies will be vital in supporting the move to a more agile, productive business.

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