A digital workspace is a technology framework that manages and centrally controls the elements of an organization’s IT assets including applications, data, and endpoints. A digital workspace also provides anytime, anywhere, any device access to applications for users, whether those applications reside on-premises or on one or more clouds.
This concentration of enterprise digital resources into a single virtual location simplifies management through a single cloud-based console while offering a secure remote access experience to users on both company-owned and BYOD devices.
By decoupling the physical client device from the workspace, the type of device used for access becomes less important as users experience a consistent user experience (UX) regardless of end-user client device.
Users can access the resources in a digital workspace via digital workspace client apps, which are generally available as native applications on a range of device platforms and also as web-based apps, offering a familiar interface regardless of device or method of access.
Common features of a digital workspace include:
Key benefits of digital workspaces for employees include:
Increased Employee Productivity: A recent Stanford study found that work-from-home (WFH) employees were 13 percent more productive.
Lower employee turnover: The same Stanford study also found WFH employees were more satisfied with the employers, and their attrition fell by 50 percent compared to the non-WFH group. Thus, an improved employee experience directly translates into lower turnover, helping to ensure that talented team members stay on.
Engaged Employees: Richer engagement leads to higher productivity and a better employee experience. Eliminating the need for specific sign-ins for each application and the ability to use the employee’s device of choice leads to higher productivity and increased innovation. Digital workspaces help attract and retain critical talent in a time when many skills are in short supply.
Digital workspaces offer a variety of benefits to organizations including:
Improved customer service and Net Promoter ratings: Digital workspaces can offer front-line employees all the tools they need to rapidly solve customer issues, translating a better employee experience into a better customer experience.
Technology-agnostic solutions: Digital workspaces enhance the ability to adopt new technologies on-premises, in the cloud, and at the edge without fear of compromising either the user experience or enterprise security. Digital workspaces enable users to access any application regardless of where it originates, with web, SaaS, cloud, and local applications all managed as a cohesive unit.
Better Security: The battle between ease of access and strong security continues to plague most organizations. Since the network perimeter no longer exists, employees require access from anywhere, whether their home offices, the local coffee shop, or an airport lounge. Digital workspaces that offer SSO greatly reduce the risk of penetration or data loss since a single password provides less risk to the business.
Security is further enhanced by digital workspaces that offer IT a comprehensive view into all network traffic. Having visibility into where users are logging in from, which files are being accessed, and from what devices can help spot potential threats and remediate them before harm is done, whether it is caused by hackers or user error. Tools like role-based access controls (RBAC) can further refine security across the enterprise.
Reduced costs: Cloud-based digital workspace software can reduce the need for costly on-premises infrastructure
The recent Covid pandemic has emphasized the need for work-from-anywhere solutions for an increasingly dispersed workforce. Additionally, many employees prefer a specific type of device used to perform a given task in the workforce – often relying on multiple devices during the course of the business day.
This anywhere, any device, any connectivity model requires a digital workspace that provides the flexibility to support that broad range of endpoints.
Nearly every organization can benefit from digital workspaces. Here are a few common uses that highlight how digital workspaces offer a balance of productivity and security across the board:
Contractors and business partners: Organizations increasingly rely on contractors or business partners to achieve day-to-day business goals. However, managing third-party workers can be complicated, since most of these workers may not be part of the enterprise directory and thus may not have clear roles defined. Digital workspaces provide simple, secure access for these non-employee workers while keeping them productive and enabling simple collaboration with employee team members.
Remote workers: Work from home is here to stay, and even employees who traditionally worked in a single location are increasingly mobile, in some cases just because the technology now allows them to work while sitting in a café or other non-home, non-office location. Digital workspaces can ensure that this increasingly mobile and remote workforce has secure yet simple access to the applications and data they require to perform their jobs, whether those applications are local productivity applications, web-based, or SaaS. Digital workspaces can also use the context of where employees are working from to offer access to only those applications that would not compromise security of critical data, whether HIPAA, PCI DSS, or GDPR protected.
Sensitive Data and Applications: Whether related to a financial deal, legal proceeding, or regulatory protection, information can be sensitive, can comprise business secrets or intellectual property, and must always be protected. Digital workspaces can ensure that only those with a need to know have access to this type of information and can further ensure that all data related to these types of transactions are encrypted end-to-end, protecting against exposure whether purposeful or accidental.
Legal teams can use digital workspaces as ‘deal rooms’ that offer unfettered access to those who need it and eliminating the possibility of access to those who do not.
The terms digital workspace and digital workplace not only sound similar, they are often used interchangeably. However, they are far from the same.
A workplace is the physical location where a person works. It can be an office space where co-workers get together to meet, ideate, collaborate, and shoot the breeze. A digital workplace is the collective digital workplace or environment that an organization establishes for all employees, a place where employees can virtually gather around the water cooler and collaborate, especially when employees cannot work together in person, such as during the recent Covid pandemic.
A workspace is what an individual sees when they look up from working. It could be an office setting, a stand-up desk in the den at home, or even a co-working location or airport lounge while on the road. Workspaces are for a person; workplaces are for a group of people.
Similarly, a digital workplace is the collective term for an organization’s digital work environment, where remote and/or on-premises employees can gather to collaborate, even if they are working remotely. Digital workplaces are an organization’s digital strategy and often a result of a digital transformation process.
Digital workspaces are also individual in nature, an environment that includes all the programs and tools an employee needs to perform their job function. The digital workspace includes the endpoint platforms – laptops, tablets, and smartphones – and extends to communication tools, productivity software, communications and conferencing tools, and are generally unique to an individual or to a role in the organization, often varying from person to person or from department to department.
Some major differences between the two are:
Digital workspaces are fluid, changing often. Digital workplaces tend to be static and fixed across the enterprise. The digital workplace is generally the same for all employees – a platform for collaboration while working apart. The digital workspaces however are tailored to individual needs and change as new tools are brought into the organization, as roles change, or as new business processes evolve.
Digital workplaces have a strong influence on the evolution of digital workspaces. As employees increasingly utilize digital workplaces, business users and IT both can determine what areas of the digital workspace can be improved to make the collaborative experience better. New tools and applications can be introduced to the workspace to enhance productivity, improve communications, and improve the end user experience.
Digital workplaces encompass digital workspaces. The digital workspace is where an individual performs their day to day job functions, while the digital workplace delivers the tools and communications infrastructure that enables collaboration for diverse and dispersed teams. Beyond the digital workspaces, digital workplaces include many other components such as advanced analytics platforms and self-service HR systems.