By Marie Johnson
Recently, much of the world has shifted to remote work which has required the adoption of new technologies and policies. To address this new normal of remote work, many companies are investing in “Digital Workspaces.” A digital workspace, also known as a “virtual workspace,” is a set of digital tools, applications, and software that enables people to remain productive anywhere and from any device. The concept of a digital workspace has been around for years; however, the demand has grown significantly as many businesses around the world were forced to maintain business functions remotely. And even when the world returns to some semblance of normalcy, many of these companies will permanently embrace digital workspaces and the practices associated with them.
Benefits of Digital Workspaces
Some benefits of implementing digital workspaces include: the effects on employment costs, productivity, talent acquisition, and talent retention. Take into consideration the following advantages of implementing such technologies to see how they could be beneficial to your own business:
Cost of Employment
The costs associated with running a company can be significant. “Presenteeism” is one cost that many employees and employers often do not consider. Presenteeism is a problem created by a work atmosphere with an emphasis on productivity above all else, and costs many businesses unnecessarily. According to a 2018 survey, presenteeism negatively affects up to 70% of its respondents.
The reasons employees dread the idea of taking sick days are predominantly due to either a fear of falling behind on work or a desire to save their paid time off. Whatever the reasons may be for an employee to feel the pressure of presenteeism, the cost is quite clear. In a 2003 study called the American Productivity Audit, it was found that lost productivity time (LPT) cost employers $225.8 billion a year, where 71% of that figure (roughly $160.32 billion a year) is the cost of health-related reduced performance while at work. The overall ratio, in hours, of LPT due to decreased productivity at work and LPT due to work absence is 2.4.
This staggering cost stems from the fact that sick employees in the workplace contaminate surfaces and areas that then infect other employees, ultimately resulting in multiple employees working at a lesser capacity due to illness. Compared to a single employee taking a few days out of work, a single employee’s decrease in productivity due to absence is significantly less than numerous employees working at a lesser capacity.
Digital workspaces allow employees to stay home if they are not feeling well and helps them retain their paid time off. This allows contagious employees to isolate themselves while maintaining productivity from home, removing the risk of infecting other employees. Additionally, when employees are not utilizing commercial space and are instead working remotely, there is a reduction in the use of office consumables, utilities, and office equipment. So, even if illness is not a prominent issue with a particular workplace, there is still the cost-saving aspect of a reduction in utility and equipment usage.
Talent Acquisition and Retention
The attrition rate of employees and the need to hire quality talent is another problem that many companies face today. In the years ahead, most people entering the workforce will be known as Generation Z, also known as the Digital Generation or the Internet Generation. No matter what name is ascribed to the incoming workforce, the point is that Generation Z is intertwined with technology.
Introducing technology into the workplace sooner, rather than later, will place businesses in a more favorable position for Generation Z, and even facilitates a company’s adoption of future technologies. Not only can digital workspaces improve a company’s future talent acquisition, but they can also help improve the retention rate of current employees. Technology that makes an employee's work easier, alongside technology that improves workplace socialization and communication can enable significant improvements in retention rates.
Adopting Digital Workspaces
Now that some benefits of digital workspaces have been discussed and considered, it’s time to look at some relatively easy steps to take for your digital transformation and the adoption of a digital workspace. One misconception about adopting digital workspaces is that the process is costly and requires a near absolute rebuilding and restructuring of a business and its components. However, this does not need to be the case, as outlined below.
The ability for employees to work from home is fundamental to digital workspaces. Many companies don’t have the capability for employees to work remotely because the necessary software is tethered to the computer systems at the physical workplace. And in some cases, these computer systems and applications have often been around long enough that they are no longer compatible with modern technology such as tablets, smartphones, and current operating systems. These applications are known as legacy apps and are a significant inhibiting factor to digital transformation for many companies.
Luckily, there are digital workspaces like Cameyo that specifically address legacy software by enabling you to give your people access to all of their business-critical applications from anywhere, on any device, without the need for VPNs. This approach is significantly cheaper and faster than overhauling the entire digital infrastructure of a company, and as the old adage goes, time is money. These transformations can especially assist in enabling remote work solutions which are invaluable in terms of accessibility.
Communication and Socialization
An inviting work atmosphere incorporates communication structures, which are especially important when a company introduces remote work functions. Two very popular applications that enable communication are Slack, for text based communication across the company, and Zoom, for video conferencing. By utilizing easy access to channels of communication employees will be able to socialize, not just with their co-workers but also their superiors. This type of engagement can open up the capacity to improve the relationship between employees and their managers, further enabling the ability for employees to make suggestions for change and for managers to address potential issues.
Another issue for many businesses is accessibility of physical documentation. Oftentimes, employers are hesitant to allow employees to carry documents outside the workplace due to concern that the employee may lose the paperwork or that unauthorized individuals might see confidential information. Transporting documents to the digital workspace can improve the security of the data, as well as enable accessibility for multiple employees to simultaneously view and utilize data necessary for their tasks.
One means to achieve this is through intelligent document processing, which can help transform unstructured and semi-structured documents into usable data. An additional benefit of adopting this form of technology is the improvement of employee productivity. Because employees will no longer have to devote valuable time to manually process documents, they will be in a better position to focus their attention on more creative-minded tasks that employees were originally hired to perform.
Digital workspaces offer a solution to some issues that have been plaguing businesses for a long time. With improvements in technology, the ease of implementation continues to increase and provide cost saving solutions. No matter what changes the future brings, the most effective way to embark on the digital transformation will stay the same, and that is to begin making these changes today.