When digital workspaces were touted as the next big trend, their biggest selling point was the concept of anytime, anywhere, any device.

But while the adage might have been an accurate representation of the change digital workspaces would bring to how people work, it didn’t help drive their adoption as rapidly as was expected.

Challenges such as high data costs and the need for the right connectivity and toolsets were some of the reasons digital workspaces didn’t take off as predicted in South Africa. This looks set to change, however.

Many organisations are already embracing the adaptive, fluid nature of digital workspaces and the benefits that flow from this – and all indications are that we are going to see more rapid change in this area as more technology and tools focused on facilitating productivity and collaboration become available.

These tools cannot work in isolation, of course. For any digital workspace to be successful, the technology needs to combine with the processes driving digital workspaces and the people making use of those workspaces.

Intelligent infrastructure is, understandably, the underlying driver of digital workspaces to give workers the security they need to suit their working styles, but this needs to be supported by the development of solid policies governing digital workspaces because the management of these workspaces is paramount.

The management and execution of digital workspaces has lagged in the past, which is another reason for the slower uptake, but the good news is that this is catching up and will drive more rapid adoption going forward.

As better management of these processes and policies governing digital workspaces becomes more commonplace, another key feature is going to emerge: self-management. With the flexibility that digital workspaces provide, individuals are going to need to learn to manage their own time and productivity – but with connectivity and the modern tools that facilitate seamless communication such as Microsoft Teams, it is becoming easier than ever.

Taking an adaptive approach to digital workspaces

Using a flexible, adaptive approach has the potential to increase trust and loyalty by removing the element of micromanagement and catering to the individual’s unique workplace needs. Although taking a case-by-case method is likely to be a challenge at the start, it is effectively setting the business up for long-term success as long as solid policies are in place.

In fact, adapting the workplace to individual needs will ultimately boost productivity as workers will have fewer distractions, less stress as a result of not needing to sit in traffic and the power to manage themselves.

The ability to create this kind of empowered employee – a company’s greatest asset – is underpinned by the technology powering what is essentially a connected ecosystem. The IT infrastructure needs to act as an enabler that facilitates that connectivity and communication – and at the heart of this is the security of that ecosystem.

Digital workspaces mean that the attack footprint grows, so security has to be built into the infrastructure and roam with the individual. It also needs to be seamless so that the user doesn’t even notice a change as they navigate the different environments that they work in.

Partnering with the right service provider is the most effective way to ensure that the entire digital journey of each worker is seamless and that security is built into the very fabric of the company’s networks and infrastructure. This means that workers have the time to focus on what matters, their output.

There can be little doubt that digital workspaces are the future of work – and that finding better ways to facilitate connected ecosystems of people, processes and technology will be the recipe for success.

Emerging technologies such as mixed realities can help drive that connectedness, but it is also critical not to become so consumed with only one aspect in the mix of people, processes and technology that the other ingredients necessary to succeed fall by the wayside.

Businesses that are able to find the balance between all three elements of the ecosystem will be the ones to truly enjoy the benefits of digital workspaces.

By Basha Pillay, Executive Head of Cloud & Collaboration, and Theo Reddy, Head of Technical Solutions at IS