Laying the foundations of a digital workspace

Channel Middle East, in association with Microsoft, delves into the essential elements of the digital workplace

Microsoft, Digital workplace, Collaboration, Security, Remote work, Cloud, Software

The digital workspace is more than just software. It is about integrating technology with people to cultivate a new normal that is inclusive, connected and collaborative. It encourages knowledge sharing across the organisation, and results in talent attraction, increase in employee productivity and satisfaction.

Such a workplace includes physical infrastructure, devices, and cloud services to create an analytical and creative workforce that delivers better business outcomes. Ingraining such a culture into the organisation encourages innovation as the company’s talent is freed of the mundane, repetitive tasks.

In the absence of the right structure, such an enterprise may seem daunting. When properly implemented, it gives teams the opportunity to share ideas and collaborate efficiently without the constraints of physical boundaries. To support this outcome, employees must have access to the right tools to collaborate, communicate and connect.

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The array of workplace applications available is indicative of the need for an interface that offers the shortest path to the required resources. A holistic digital workplace strategy must clearly articulate the business direction in order to identify relevant tools that can empower its employees.

While there are no hard and fast rules when designing and setting up a digital workplace, leading practices do exist.

The ideal solution would be a digital hub that simplifies processes and consolidates information to enable collaborative work beyond organisational boundaries. Further, it is vital to select a platform that is flexible enough to evolve with changing market demands as well as those of the organisation.

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An excellent place to start would be to identify a unified digital platform, rather than selecting individual tools and applications. Such a platform should be able to provide a centralised interface for business processes, projects and discussions while maintaining control and visibility over digital and network assets.

The optimum digital workspace will be one that is tailored to provide the right balance of security, productivity, experience and governance objectives.

Accessibility

Cloud and mobile services are integral to nearly every digital and business transformation strategy, and remain a top priority for the distributed workforce. These technologies can remove geographical barriers from collaboration and processes to improve employee engagement, productivity and content management.

One of the key benefits of cloud is that it is flexible, which means that the digital workplace can be customised to fit both business and individual needs. The digital workplace combines the advantages of cloud with high speed internet connectivity to offer seamless, cross-device productivity with real-time access anywhere. Cloud-based software not only gives employees more versatility but also increases an organisation’s access to talent around the world.

Security

The right digital platform should not only offer flexibility and accessibility, but it should also have the option to impose relevant restrictions to safeguard corporate data. Such controls protect sensitive data from hacks, malware and end-user mistakes, while restricting permissions based on job role, location, device or activity.

When creating a digital workplace, organisations need to develop a governance model that supports connectivity and collaboration while mitigating risks and enabling compliance. It is imperative to have appropriate governance structures and management processes, and data usage must comply with the organisation’s policies and industry regulations.

Also read: How organisations can secure the borderless office

Lack of appropriate controls underpins the effective use of technology in the digital workplace. Today, digital platforms have machine learning and artificial intelligence built-in, making it easier for the IT team to stay ahead of both internal and external threats. With better insight and control over the network traffic, users, data and endpoints, the IT team is able secure the borderless workplace more efficiently.

Integration

The digital workplace empowers employees with tools that improve communication and collaboration, while leaving sufficient control with the employers to mitigate risks and adhere to regulatory compliance mandates.

Often organisations implement such tools in silos. The final element for a highly productive and efficient workforce would be software integration that brings all the functionalities together to integrate data in one place. This integration, however, is not just about bringing together an assortment of technology tools. It means connecting strategically selected software on a unified platform to achieve higher productivity.

However, the benefits of deploying even the best tools will be negated if proper training is not included in the agenda.

The productivity of a remote team relies entirely on effective collaboration and communication. This dependence on technology makes it imperative for the remote team to be digitally competent. Digital literacy will help remote employees develop job-and remote-work specific skills while allowing them to be flexible, competitive and engaged.

Also read: What will the reimagined workplace look like

Employers can use the same communication and collaboration platform to engage and train their staff through virtual training sessions and empower them to utilise available technology better.

User experience

The digital workplace is the virtual equivalent of the physical office, and it continues to evolve with new technologies, trends and market demand. Its success will depend on how this modern workplace is developed and whether it aligns with business requirements. Understandably, it must be carefully planned to include structured processes that can optimise, simplify and streamline business workflows.

Communication, collaboration, mobility and availability of varied business applications are the key building blocks of the digital workspace. Digital workplaces foster collaboration between colleagues, improve the employee’s digital experience and enable better customer service. A user-centric digital workplace will increase efficiency and effectiveness by allowing access and transfer of information in a secure manner, across multiple devices.

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