What is a Digital Workplace?
A digital workplace is a virtualised form of the traditional, in-person office environment, where many elements of collaboration and productivity are performed through some combination of digital applications, cloud computing and other technology.
How are digital workplaces used?
In a digital ecosystem, certain office activities or functions are done virtually, and often these accommodate specific industry or security needs, select teams and personal preferences. While digital workplaces can be deployed for small, local groups of employees, they can also be set up for multiple offices or branches, whether they are located in different cities, regions or countries.
In other words, a digital workplace opens up any number of possibilities for enterprises, breaks down the common barriers of traditional workplaces, and evolves how and where we work.
What infrastructure does a digital workplace require?
Digital workplace solutions can integrate any number of devices, software and hardware. A digital workplace can be as simple as email and instant messaging, virtual meeting tools, cloud resources such as storage and processing, and shared social media or business applications. When deployed properly, the digital workplace has the potential to increase agility, flexibility, productivity and revenue – and even accelerate innovation.
The evolution of the digital workplace
What is considered the workplace has been in constant flux since modern industrialisation; however, the digital workplace is a relatively young advancement, spurred on by rapid developments in internet-enabled devices, the growth of data and the need to analyse it, and the changing needs of a younger workforce.
In the past 20 to 30 years, new and exciting technologies have grown at a rapid pace, adding virtually limitless capabilities to a workforce’s tool belt. The internet, in particular, along with the plethora of technologies that stem from it, has decentralised the common notion of what defines where we work. Physical space is no longer needed. Communication can happen instantaneously across thousands of miles. Information can be stored, accessed and shared in near-real time. The bridge between people and productivity has never been shorter.
Today’s always-on, connected world has let loose an exponential amount of data. From mobile phones to artificial intelligence and machine learning, the internet lets us generate and collect vast amounts of information (e.g. Big Data). The problem? The workplace needs fast and reliable ways to analyse it and make it valuable.
The digital workplace is also spurred by the changing needs and values of a younger and up-and-coming workforce. Whereas baby boomers compartmentalised work and home life, later generations desire more flexibility in their work preferences, leading to more widespread adoption of hybrid work models (i.e. when employees can work from their homes or other off-site locations on a predetermined or as-needed basis). Workers can access whatever they need from a cloud-based server or application and stay in touch with teams with ease.
What are the components of a digital workplace model?
Broadly speaking, digital workplace models include any assemblage of five basic components: communication, security, storage, analytics and management. Keep in mind that having a digital workplace doesn’t necessitate having all components, just the ones needed to navigate a specific working day.
Communication is critical for the success of any digital workplace: interacting and collaborating in real or near-real time from one or several locations. Common programs include instant messaging platforms such as Slack and virtual meeting applications like Zoom. This component should include asynchronous methods as well. Compared to synchronous communication, asynchronous doesn’t require instant action, letting people respond or update on their timeline. A widely used example of this is email.
While convenient, shifting critical workflows and programs online can open up companies to potential virtual and cyber threats. It’s imperative that a digital workplace protect itself from hackers and other malicious attacks. Security can be mandated under government compliance or regulations or left to enterprise discretion and/or needs.
Whether onsite in physical servers or uploaded to the cloud, having enough storage to handle expected and unexpected workloads is an absolute must.
When collecting and pouring over massive amounts of data is a mission-critical work function, having a strong and efficient digital backbone can increase agility, deepen innovation and sharpen a competitive edge.
A digital work environment demands having a system to track every project, especially when coordinating employees from multiple locations. Doing so likely requires a form of project management to monitor progress from start to finish; case management that enables users to collaborate through a single interface; and effective process management that can help identify inefficiencies and streamline workflows.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a digital workplace model?
- Explore more opportunities for scalability and flexibility and adapt to new business opportunities or unexpected business disruptions (e.g. a global pandemic, inclement weather, etc.).
- Empower employees to work wherever they can (while travelling, between meetings at offsite locations, at home) by offering enhanced collaboration and multitasking features that can improve productivity.
- Attract potential talent that values work-life balance and may be swayed by a hybrid or remote work model and other employee experiences that fit their priorities. Switching to a digital model may also help boost employee retention rates.
- Reduce overhead. Installing elements of a digital workplace can cut down on travel expenses. Switching to a full-time virtual or remote model eliminates fixed overhead costs such as office space and furniture.
- Improve transparency. Pushing more of your workflow into the digital space delivers more insight into day-to-day operations, helping identify successes and opportunities for improvement.
- Increase revenue. Combined with other cost savings, digital models deliver more agility that accelerates business opportunities and helps companies get to market faster.
- Needs a reliable and strong enough internet connection at all times. Without it, work turns into a gridlock.
- Vulnerable to cyber and other unique threats. Unlike traditional models, where resources are more insulated from outside forces, valuable data can become a target for hackers, corporate espionage and other malicious actors.
- Requires upfront investment and regular costs, including setup, training, management and updates.
HPE and digital workplace solutions
HPE knows the future of work will be built on edge-to-cloud architectures. And as the edge-to-cloud company, HPE offers a robust portfolio of IT solutions and services designed specifically to accelerate digital transformation.
From powerful onsite processing and storage to cloud-based platforms like HPE GreenLake, HPE provides the infrastructure leading companies need to create hybrid and cloud-based work environments tailored to unique business needs, including the security to keep it all safe. HPE can even manage your digital workplace solutions, leaving more time, energy and budget to focus on true business innovation.
Have no idea where to begin? IT advisory services from HPE Pointnext can guide the way forward from deployment to integration and management – all based on transformational, industry-specific expertise and operational support.