(A few words on what a Digital Workspace is.)
Digital Workspace. Two words that form an image or meaning in our heads. But which, because of the breadth of what they represent, are unable to define a precise concept or a specific, circumscribed reference. In practice, in front of those two words, each of us imagines something slightly or strongly different. (And, on closer inspection, each of us is perfectly right).
what is a Digital Workspace?
If we could count the number of articles on the web with the words DIGITAL WORKSPACE in the title, we would almost certainly find ourselves faced with a five-figure number, if not more. And probably the number of content that, despite having a different title, contain those two words in the text, is even higher. And if we limit ourselves to definitions, the order of measurement would not change.
Yes, there is a lot of talking, a lot of writing and a lot of reading about Digital Workspace.
Some investigate its usefulness, some consider it essential for companies, now and in the future. Some describe it on the basis of its technological characteristics, others focus on its conceptual function, identifying it as the new way of working or the evolution of every working process.
Let’s try to
Define the Digital Workspace.
Let’s start with a simplification, taking the concept to its lowest terms: a Digital Workspace is a space that is completely digital, usually cloud-based, that brings together applications and data relating to the operations of a company (of one, some or all of its areas) and enables constant access to information, tools and people from different devices (e.g. desktops, smartphones and tablets), simplifying work, automating many functions, automating procedures, facilitating collaboration between employees, supervisors and managers and, as a result, leading to improved effectiveness and productivity.
In practice, the Digital Workspace is a digital space. We could almost call it a ‘non-place’, a reality that exists in digital form and is therefore accessible at any time and from anywhere. It is not affected by temporal and geographical limitations that can be an obstacle to working. And this is already an important advantage: information and answers are at your fingertips, in one place, which any authorised worker can access when they need it. To understand the importance of this point, consider that, according to a McKinsey report, employees spend almost two hours a day (i.e. a whole day in the working week) searching for and collecting information needed to do their jobs.
But there is more: this ‘place’ is equipped with useful, often valuable tools, among which we can find:
- fast and natural tools of communication and messaging, such as chats, which allow real-time interaction, eliminating the problems often caused by asynchronous communication.
- task management tools, to plan activities, assign resources and workforce to certain tasks, manage the progress of open tasks.
- alarms and notifications, to keep procedures and activities under constant control, avoiding delays and possible missed interventions.
- applications dedicated to paperless procedures, which allow you to abandon the use of paper, streamlining certain processes and also reducing the company’s environmental impact.
- process automation tools, to avoid downtime or delays in carrying out activities.
A ‘concise’ definition.
We could say that the Digital Workspace is a technological solution, a platform that contains the information, applications and tools that enable people in the company to act and interact in an optimal way.
Gartner also describes it as a tool that improves employee engagement and involvement. One could almost go so far as to call it a modus operandi, a concept of operation that has an impact on every cog in the complicated wheel that is today’s business.
On closer inspection, however, it is very difficult to come up with a single definition of a Digital Workspace once and for all. Because we are not talking about a standard tool, perfectly adaptable to all production, commercial or service companies, but a changing entity, composed in different ways depending on the nature and needs of the different companies.
Many ways of looking at it, many ways of structuring it.
It almost seems there is a different Digital Workspace for every point of view. And in a certain sense, this is how it is and how it should be: there is no need for a 100% tailor-made implementation, but every company has similar needs and different requirements, similar markets and different channels, parallel and divergent histories. And the differences are the delicate and winning elements of any business strategy. That is why it is not enough to adopt a Digital Workspace, it is instead essential to choose one, to identify the most suitable and adaptable to the specific business reality.
The main element at the centre of the choice of a Digital Workspace is therefore not the technical characteristics, but the objectives and aspirations of the company. It is from these that the main benefit that the Digital Workspace will bring to the company can be identified, offering it an irreplaceable tool to improve and make work more productive, from the point of view of technology, people and processes.
A ‘strategic’ definition.
From this point of view, we could also add to the definition the fact that the Digital Workspace is to all intents and purposes a corporate strategy aimed at bringing the company speed of action and greater competitiveness.
In this regard, it is interesting to note a figure that underlines the difference between working and being productive: according to research by Gartner, employees spend 61% of their time managing work and only 39% taking targeted and effective action. A Digital Workspace can make everything employees and contractors have to do in that 61% of their working day much more agile and immediate. The need for this improvement is obvious and requires no comment. While some aspects of the era we are living through provide food for thought: let’s talk about how the Covid-19 pandemic is changing not only people’s lives but also the strategies of companies and the logic of markets.
The post pandemic evolution.
In the early 2020s, the limits of the physical link between some tasks and the workplace became more apparent than ever. Communication channels have proved to be qualitatively inadequate, the lack of access to documents and information by employees forced to work from home has led to slowdowns, the complex interaction between company departments has caused difficulties in managing issues and procedures in every area of the companies. Companies that were already equipped with Digital Workspaces supported their workforce better, were more resilient, and were ready to change their operations in response to external events. They have essentially demonstrated that a digital space that incorporates technology, tools and people is the foundation of business resilience and responsiveness.
A ‘focused’ definition.
A Digital Workspace is therefore a valuable element of competitiveness.
To this definition we can also add the role that a Digital Workspace has in providing a competitive advantage over competitors with a more traditional way of working:
- makes business processes more efficient.
- it guarantees responsiveness to the company.
- improves the productivity of the workforce.
- motivates and supports employees in their daily operations.
- supports corporate sustainability.
Is it easy for adopting a Digital Workspace?
The undoubted advantages of a Digital Workspace naturally entail some difficulties. Particularly when it comes to changing the corporate mindset and that of managers and employees. Because it is not just a question of adding digital tools to those already in use in the company, but also of partially changing the way of working. And this is more complicated. This is one of the reasons why the choice of the most suitable Digital Workspace is so important, and the advice of the supplier of this technology plays a key role at every stage: from identifying the benefits that the Digital Workspace can bring to the company to the most suitable tools to meet the company’s needs and support in using the digital platform. It is no coincidence that some Digital Workspaces offer a virtual assistant who, using natural language and in a simple and intuitive way, guides and supports users in using the functions and applications of the Digital Workspace.
A ‘metaphorical’ definition.
Perhaps, in the end, the best definition we can give is that the Digital Workspace is a kind of virtual, technological colleague who knows everything, who sees everything, who can make every phase of work better and more productive, who acts as a personal trainer for the company and as a personal advisor to employees. And who is unique: he looks like someone else but is not the same as anyone else.
Can a company really do without such a collaborator?