Businesses of all sizes and types have been evolving their digital capabilities each year with the goal of maximizing the productivity of their employees. With so many digital programs and gadgets around us, it can be difficult to separate our physical space from the digital one. In this post, we’ll examine the interesting differences between workspaces and workplaces and how the nature of business translates into digital environments.
You can find software today to perform nearly any work task in an automated or semi-automated way. From word processing to order management and logistics, there is a nearly endless stream of new digital capabilities hitting the market each year. Today’s digital work spaces represent the future of the modern workforce and the new challenges and opportunities that will come with it.
The Definition of a Workspace
Before we get too far into describing the details of our digital environments, there are a couple of definitions you should know – most importantly, the differences between workplaces and workspaces. The team over at AKKA Architects have come up with these handy definitions for a workplace versus a workspace:
- Workplace – where you go to work. Most people who have worked in the corporate world for many years think of a workplace as an office building. The term workplace can also refer to a factory, home, or any other place where you go to perform your work duties.
- Workspace – where you do your work. The office and cubicle are two obvious examples of a workspace. It is any location where you set up and get to work. In simple terms, the workspace is a subset of a workplace and refers to the personal space that you occupy while working.
What Is a Digital Workspace?
The definitions of workplace and workspace above translate well to the digital environment. Digital workplace refers to all the software and tools that a company provides its employees to keep them connected. This includes the collective programs, apps, and any hardware that a company’s workforce needs to perform tasks and conduct business.
An employee’s digital workspace is the specific environment that they access on a regular basis to carry out work-related tasks. Most employees work from an assigned laptop or desktop computer and access programs from there, but a digital workspace can look different for each individual employee. It may include a mobile device, digital calendar or task management program, and specialized software that they use to complete their work. Digital workspace is a broad term and, especially since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies have created a combination of physical and digital workplaces and workspaces.
Attributes of a Digital Workspace
While every company will have their own unique priorities and collection of digital tools, most share some common themes. The digital workspace will typically offer employees a good amount of customization while providing several core features. These are a few of the most valued attributes of a digital workspace.
Since an individual digital workspace is part of the larger workplace, it will have access to the primary software systems that the company uses. This can include dedicated collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Slack. The function of a digital workspace is to act as an inclusive and secure gateway to connect each employee with the entire organization.
One of the biggest benefits of working within digital systems is that individual processes can usually be updated and modified quite easily over time. It is rarely possible to get everything perfect for everyone, but a digital workspace gives each worker the ability to set up their own basic digital environment in the way that works best for their workflows and preferences. To support collaboration, it’s essential that teams utilize the same software applications for specific functions so that they can seamlessly share or collaborate on files and communicate. That said, not every team member will require access to the full suite of software and tools.
Modern digital tools are now being designed to include powerful automation capabilities such as bots, AI-powered functions, and seamless integrations that support the sharing of data between software solutions. These allow the software to take on some of the heavy lifting and perform basic functions so that team members don’t need to spend time on tedious, manual tasks that can be automated easily, such as data entry, time sheet management, and order processing. Digital workspaces with automation capabilities can help free up more time for employees to work on solving issues and taking on more value-added tasks.
Flexibility and Customization
This is perhaps the most important feature of today’s modern digital workspaces. Since COVID-19 disrupted business operations around the world, many employees are working from home and require easy access to company materials. In addition, new employees must be onboarded remotely and provided with everything they need to perform their jobs effectively. Digital workspaces can be tailored to specific needs quickly and rapidly deployed to any part of the world.
It is safe to say that the ways we work will only continue to evolve in the future. Some experts are even saying that the term “digital workspace” is no longer necessary because so many of our “workspaces” are now digital. We’re immersed in the digital age, and employees have more access to systems and colleagues than ever before. The digital workspace is a central capability in the transition to remote work.