Digital Workspaces Emerge: Here Are the Technologies Enabling Them
The emergence of hybrid and remote workplaces has ignited the technology space, as companies continuously seek better, easier, faster ways to work and enable employees in their day to day, regardless of location.
All of this has resulted in the creation of new frameworks that further enable the work-from-everywhere model using a set of integrated or associated technologies known as digital workspaces.
Note the variance: workspaces — not to be confused with workplaces. Here's how they differ.
Digital Workspace vs. Digital Workplace
In a recent blog outlining the differences between a workplace and a workspace, technology provider Ricoh described the digital workplace as a cloud-based work platform that allows for the virtualization of the whole work environment. It consists of an online environment where people interact and collaborate while working from home with the help of technologies that enable collaboration and teamwork.
A digital framework, or workspace, on the other hand is a virtual replica of a workstation. According to Ricoh, it is a set of ever-evolving technologies that allow people to work from any device, at any time. Those technologies often include:
- Virtualization of applications and desktops
- Content collaboration and file sharing
- Secure access to SaaS apps
- Unified endpoint management
- Single Sign-On (SSO)
- Automated workflow
Related Article: Can Work-From-Anywhere Really Work?
IT in the Driver's Seat
At the beginning of November, HP Teradici published research into digital workspaces which shows that not only are organizations investing in individual technologies, but they are investing in entire sets of technologies to enable these new work models.
The report, titled The Strategic Role of Digital Workspaces, which was based on a survey of 270 IT leaders across a range of industries globally, identified several emerging trends and challenges that these workspaces are designed to manage. Among them was the idea that IT teams are busier than ever meeting a variety of employee needs both in the office and remotely, which has put IT in a more strategic position to influence company policy and culture.
According to the report, while the use of remote desktops is growing, with 75% of employees using remote desktops and another 13% looking at introducing them in the foreseeable future, the technology presents significant challenges. Surveyed IT leaders say the technology is creating problems like pixelation and latency (59%), more cumbersome management (34%) and difficult implementations (32%).
As a result, company policies are changing to reflect these new challenges and environments, thus growing the importance of IT in the digital organization.
“As hybrid work models continue evolving, the IT perspective will become more critical,” the report reads. “They aren’t just solving technical problems; they’re able to influence the direction of company policies and even company culture. IT’s recommendations for digital workspaces technology will help shape the hybrid workplace."
Related Article: The Role of Digital Hubs in the Organization
Workspaces Deliver on Organizational Needs
According to a separate HP report published in September, digital workspaces offer a secured, work-from-anywhere, integrated technology framework that can deliver, manage and control centralized company assets, including applications, data and desktops.
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These workspaces, the report explained, pull together virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), data centers, edge, workstations and applications, whether on-premises or in the cloud, endpoints, collaboration technologies, management and administrative tools, as well as secure access policies and tools.
But when selecting the digital technologies for these hubs, Linda Shaffer, Checkr's chief people and operations officer, said organizational leaders need to start by understanding their current and future needs. Among the questions she said leaders should ask themselves are:
- How are workplace managers facilitating collaboration?
- Do workers need a platform that will allow remote teams to work together seamlessly?
- What technologies are already in place, and how can they be improved?
She suggests considering both the short-term and long-term needs of the organization, as well as the cost implications. For example, investing in an enterprise-grade platform could be more expensive upfront but may save money in the long run due to reduced maintenance costs and improved scalability, Shaffer said.
“Once you have outlined your requirements, research the appropriate digital technology for your needs," she said. “Speak with vendors and other organizations which use similar solutions to gain insight into their experiences."
A variety of digital technologies can be used to create digital workspaces depending on the kind of organization under consideration. These include:
- Software Development Environments (SDEs): A software development environment is a collection of tools and software that developers use to write code. They can include everything from text editors to integrated development environments (IDEs) that help you manage your project files and make coding easier.
- Web Browsers: While this may be obvious, it is something many organizations overlook. A web browser is a software program that lets you access the web — and there are many of them.
- Computer Systems: A computer system includes all the components that make up a machine, including the hardware, firmware, operating system (OS), applications and data.
- Communication and Collaboration Tools: These tools have become essential in bringing different departments and employees together and enabling teamwork in both a remote setting and in the office.
- Information and Document Management: IDMs can help overcome one of the biggest hindrances to employee productivity, researching and tracking down important information.
- Analytics and Insights: According to Jim Kane, a director at ISG, digital workplace technology is a data-driven concept, and all technologies should use data analytics to process decisions with optimal efficiency, accuracy and speed, he said.
- Cybersecurity: Data breaches are on the rise, with increasing costs to victims. IT leaders and organizational leaders must invest in ways to increase security while providing more range for employees to flex their digital boundaries.
Related Article: Why UC Platforms Are Better than Best-of-Breed Tools in the Digital Workplace
Embracing Digital Transformation
With over half of the American workforce working remotely at least one day a week, having secure and flexible work computing environments is non-negotiable for companies, Greg McGraw, CEO and co-founder of Atlanta-based MacStadium, an infrastructure-as-a-service developer, told Reworked.
He, of course, suggests investing in technologies such as Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) or Software-a-Service (SaaS), which he says help build effective workforces, attract talent, provide secure environments and support the development of what he views as the most flexible economic model for infrastructure.
“The tech landscape is ever changing,” McGraw said, cautioning that there will be more disruption to come as companies continue on with their digital transformations. “Diversifying your technology stack could be a major step in retaining your business. CIOs have the option to adopt desktop virtualization options that are cost effective, increase team productivity and offer a centralized control for security.”
About the Author
David is a European-based journalist of 35 years who has spent the last 15 following the development of workplace technologies, from the early days of document management, enterprise content management and content services. Now, with the development of new remote and hybrid work models, he covers the evolution of technologies that enable collaboration, communications and work and has recently spent a great deal of time exploring the far reaches of AI, generative AI and General AI.