CTO Blog What is the Digital Workplace?

What is the Digital Workplace?

The term is hotly debated because it can mean very different things depending on which sector you work in, or which part of it falls into your responsibility and that you are expected to deliver for your organisation or customers. In essence it’s about working smarter by appropriately applying a digital solution, often in combination with a streamlined process, in order to achieve a better, quicker result with less effort. Digital Workplace is only one part of an organisation’s strategy for digital transformation.

In this series of Blogs, I will take some high-level themes of what a Digital Workplace can be and explore each in turn. These are:

  • Flexible Workforce
  • Engaging with People in a Smart Campus/Office Environment
  • Smart Buildings

Today we are looking at:

Flexible Workforce

Providing a flexible working strategy for your employees has one of the largest positive influences on your staff and your environmental impact as a company. So why is it not happening more? Although the idea of telecommunicating has been around 30+ years, recent reports suggest that companies are slow to adopt flexible working policies despite the recorded benefits for workers’ health, psycological wellbeing and increased productivity.

From an IT perspective, the ability to provide solutions for flexible working are well understood, and since the explosion of high speed broadband, pervasive wireless networks and highly capable mobile devices, it couldn’t be easier, however it is company policies and procedures, and often perception that might be holding us back. It should also be noted that a full-time telecommuter lifestyle can lead to isolation of the individual and makes it very difficult to manage and build teams, and so a balance needs to be struck.

That said, it is our role as technologists to make it as easy as possible for organisations to adopt a flexible working strategy. Solutions for accessing, downloading and modifying data remotely need to be simple for the user, but also need to maintain the security and integrity of such data so that organisations can trust this type of access. Ideally workers will access the most sensitive data from a company-owned and controlled device, but there may be other levels of access that can be considered from less secure devices, access to a calendar tool for instance. To achieve this the systems need to understand who is accessing, where are they accessing from, how have they authenticated and what type of device are they accessing from.

Teleworkers do not always work from home or hotels, but maybe smaller office locations within walking or cycling distance. The ability to provide small branch office solutions, that provide secured corporate levels of access can also be a key requirement of IT.

For the reasons mentioned above, and many more, companies will move to embrace and accept flexible working policies and IT professionals need to be ready to respond.