By now, many employees have grown to expect, not just appreciate, the flexibility of going virtual. In a recent survey conducted by the digital workspace provider Citrix, 52 percent of respondents said they prefer a hybrid work model, while nearly 20 percent said they would like to continue working remotely indefinitely.
For entrepreneurs and small businesses, a remote or hybrid setup offers a host of advantages, but it also requires adjusting to ensure productivity, security, and collaboration is possible regardless of employees’ work locations.
Of employees say they prefer a hybrid work environment
Enter the digital workspace, a suite of tools and services in a centralized, cloud-based platform that empowers businesses to operate smoothly and efficiently across multiple settings. The goal is to create a virtual environment in which employees don’t have to change the way they interface with technology and work applications based on where they are, or what device they’re using. Demand for these types of solutions is growing, with the global digital workspace market expected to reach $44.9 billion by 2026.
Digital workspaces are designed to streamline, secure, and simplify workflows for all sizes and types of businesses. This allows employers to create a customizable digital infrastructure that serves a wide variety of use cases, says Matthew Crawford, Director of Workspace Product Marketing at Citrix. With a wide portfolio of products and services, Citrix builds custom packages for clients, creating the back-end infrastructure that allows them to easily adopt remote or hybrid work models.
“We help unify work, we secure work, and we help simplify work,” Crawford says. “At a high level, that’s what a digital workspace does.”
A customized, digital workspace can be the smartest way to do work. Here’s how digital workspaces enable productivity, security, and collaboration.
Getting Work Done
Research shows that 98 percent of leaders and employees experience frustration with their core applications, mostly due to time spent switching between apps that are too time-consuming to use. To effectively work from anywhere, everyone on staff needs access to the same easy-to-navigate data, files, and applications that they use on-site in the office. And those apps need to be simple to use.
This is where virtual desktops can help, allowing users to access their desktop applications from a central platform, from any endpoint device. Functionally, the result is simple:
“You can connect to your work environment seamlessly and securely, regardless of your network or work location,” Crawford says.
Beyond access, digital workspaces streamline business processes, enabling employees to focus on their core competencies rather than on tasks that do not add value to the business, such as filing IT tickets, filling out expense reports, or navigating any number of other applications. By merging common processes across apps into a single, easy-to-navigate interface, digital workspaces can significantly reduce the time it takes to perform rote activities.
Digital workspaces facilitate integrations with essential third-party products, too. This streamlines workflows. In a healthcare setting, for example, many employees might only be familiar with one specific electronic medical record system. With a Citrix workspace, additional security and accessibility features can be added to a company’s existing digital framework, without workers having to leave the interface they already know.
Keeping Information Secure
Creating a productive office environment requires ensuring adequate security measures are in place, Crawford says—a reality that often gets overlooked. While important for any business, this is particularly true for those in highly regulated industries. “Depending on the vertical you are in, it’s a nonstarter if you’re not secure,” he says. This includes healthcare, in which every organization handling patient information—from health startups, to independent clinics, to doctor’s offices, to dentists, to any number of other specialty providers—are beholden to federal statutes protecting personal health information from fraud and theft. Regardless of a health provider’s size,
“We provide access to electronic health records in a secure way, with security controls,” Crawford says.
More broadly, desktop virtualization features equip businesses with protected access to applications across networks. Because information is accessible on the endpoints, but data is stored in the data center, corporate information is not compromised due to theft or loss of a device. A boon to productivity—employees can seamlessly work from any location—virtual desktops also offer baked-in, adjustable security controls, such as multi-factor authentication. Organizations can set a variety of adjustable parameters for themselves, granting (or blocking) access to sensitive applications or printing capabilities based on an employee’s job title or location.
As an added layer of security, “we have analytics that consciously monitor what the end user is doing” on a virtual desktop, allowing Citrix to flag suspicious activity or unusual behavior so the IT department can intervene in real-time, Crawford says. Citrix Analytics can flag an employee’s suspicious activity or atypical behavior so that the IT department can intervene in real-time.
Making Remote Collaboration Simple
On a basic level, a digital workspace includes content collaboration tools that allow users to digitally share files, manage products, and simplify work.
But its capabilities are both more extensive and immediate: By enabling quick access to data, files, documents, and other materials, effective digital workspaces allow workers to easily collaborate on projects.
Meanwhile, IT departments can standardize the technology experience for remote workers regardless of location or Wi-Fi situation. Say, for example, an employee logging in remotely encounters a problem—a digital workspace is built to identify whether the issue is due to the network, the internet service provider, or the device itself, so the issue can be handled quickly and painlessly.
Digital workspaces are impactful because they fundamentally change how and where collaboration can happen. Traditionally, remote capabilities—such as VPNs—were clunky. That’s fine when most of the work is done in the office. But as an organization moves toward a hybrid environment, in which some people are coming into the office and others are working off-site, “you need a solution that fits both use cases,” Crawford says. “It can’t be, ‘Here’s the remote access solution you use on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but when you come into the office you use some other solution. It’s about hybrid work and having one solution to provide for all of that.”
The predicted size of the global digital workplace market by 2026
After switching to a digital workspace, a recent Citrix customer dubbed it “a force multiplier,” says Kathy Holoman, a Senior Product Marketing Manager and a vertical marketing expert at Citrix, in large part because it standardized the work experience across multiple locations. “For an entrepreneur, that’s huge.”
Finding the Right Solution for your Business
A digital workspace is customizable—you can choose its features and controls depending on the size and requirements of your business. Citrix works with its own business partners and with clients to understand corporate needs and requirements. Then infrastructures that meet those needs can be designed.
“You can create a workspace that is right, either for your company or even for individual user groups within your company, based on what their use cases are,” Crawford says.
As an owner, you know the needs of your company better than anyone else. Instead of dictating how your company should get work done, a digital workspace provides a palette to choose from, Crawford says.
This also allows individual employees to create work environments that are tailored to their needs, Holoman says. “Part of the hybrid model is helping your employees assess how they best get work done.” Introverts who engage in a lot of independent work, for example, can incorporate regular work-from-home days into their schedules without disrupting the company’s workflow.
Digital workspaces make it easy to access your work environment from anywhere. “Our mantra has always been: ‘Work from anywhere,’” Crawford says. It appears the rest of the world is finally catching up.