- A virtual workspace is a collection of tools and services that allows individuals to work from anywhere without missing a beat.
- Remote and hybrid work are here to stay, with businesses and workers each enjoying the benefits.
- By working with virtual workspace platforms like Wellforce, which combines the best productivity tools with holistic employee support in a user-friendly experience, businesses can embrace remote work with confidence.
Over the last two years, remote work has gone from a far-off reality to the default. And for many businesses and managers, adapting to the rapidly changing workspace means adopting virtual workspaces.
In this post, we're going to explore the ins and outs of virtual workspaces, from what they are to how companies can make them work for their entire staff.
Understanding virtual workspaces
Virtual workspaces are a collection of tools, services, and technologies that enable workers to complete their daily tasks from home. Instead of driving to the office for work, a person can shuffle over to their desk and knock out the day's work in their pajamas.
Although no two businesses are going to use the same set of tools (also known as a "stack") to make remote work possible, there are a few categories of software that most will rely on:
- Task management software. These are apps that allow workers and managers to quickly see what needs to be done and how far along a task is towards being completed.
- Scheduling software. Often bundled with task management tools, scheduling software makes it easy for everyone to see when tasks are due and when.
- Communication platforms. Whether you're talking Slack or Zoom, team members can use chat apps to easily keep up with one another.
Hybrid work is here to stay
For many businesses, hybrid work models came about as a means of necessity. The pandemic forced people home, and to keep the ball rolling, businesses worked to provide team members with the tools they needed to work from home.
As the world is opening back up, however, we aren't seeing the mass immigration back to the workplace that may have been expected. And with 73% of workers and 66% of employers considering a long-term switch to hybrid workspaces, the reasons behind the shift (or lack thereof) seem obvious.
Virtual workspaces allow individuals to work from the comfort of their home, creating a more comfortable experience, reducing time spent driving, and increasing the amount of time spent with loved ones. Add in the fact that many employees report feeling more engaged with their work in a WFH environment, and it's no wonder that we're reluctant to turn back the clock on remote work.
Examples of virtual workspaces
It's important to note that while hybrid work, remote work, and virtual workspaces are all related, they aren't interchangeable. Hybrid and remote work refer to the work style a person has while a virtual workspace is the digital "space" where a person works.
To help you better visualize what a virtual workspace looks like, here are some popular examples:
Citrix offers an all-in-one digital workspace that includes features like collaborative services, simplified app delivery, and importantly, support for your security and IT team.
Ericcson's focus is on providing virtual workspaces that don't depend on expensive physical workspaces. Storage and apps are largely hosted in the cloud, allowing staff to work from nearly any device with an internet connection.
Microsoft has launched its Cloud PC service, which allows businesses to create a virtual workspace that can be streamed to workers' devices. This gives a lot of control to the employer while leaving plenty of flexibility for the worker.
Lastly, there's AWS WorkSpaces. This solution has the benefit of being tied to AWS services, which will make it an excellent choice for several enterprises that already rely on AWS for hosting.
Remote workers are missing out on access to company resources
Like any workspace revolution, the move to virtual has plenty of challenges. Remote workers are often left out when it comes to accessing company resources, which can add expenses and difficulties to the remote work experience.
These lost resources include meetings, a lack of collaboration, and limited access to tools that are readily available in a physical workplace. Alongside being demotivating, this has the secondary consequence of hampering the quality of work that can be completed.
The challenges of recreating an office experience at home (and how to solve them)
Fortunately, these challenges aren't set in stone. Managers can embrace workflows and tools that ensure everyone has equal access and opportunities, regardless of what workspace they're occupying.
Below are a handful of solutions that can make virtual workspaces just as effective as traditional ones:
Choose software that's built on collaboration
One of the key ways to create a quality virtual workspace experience is to opt for software that's built on collaboration. This includes apps like Airtable, Microsoft Teams, G Suite, Zoom, and Slack.
Using apps like these will allow team members to chat and work together just as easily as they would if they were in the same office. This is especially important for the more social members of your staff.
Always-on communication platforms are a must
In addition to Zoom and Slack, which provide always-on communication for your team members, you can create a direct line between your physical office and your remote workers.
Using web cameras, conference room cams, and collaboration tools can help shorten the physical distance. They create an interactive and visual way for team members and managers to work together without occupying the same physical space. There are even apps like Mural which enable you to share the classic whiteboard experience with those at home.
Next-gen technology will make virtual workspaces more natural
In addition to all of the great technology that's making virtual workspaces better every day, there is a whole host of next-generation tech on the way.
From companies like Facebook and Microsoft, who are working on truly virtual workspaces in the metaverse, to names like Apple, who are building personal AR devices, the future for virtual work is bright.
Does remote work make it harder for managers to measure performance?
If you're thinking that the "There's an app for that," mentality behind virtual workspaces is a bit too optimistic, you're not alone. Lots of managers are concerned that moving to remote work will hamper their ability to measure employee performance.
While understandable, these fears have largely proven unfounded in the last two years. Here's why.
Watching "clock-in, clock-out" hours never worked
Intuitively, we know that this is true, and the reports back it up. Knowing how much time someone is spending in your building doesn't tell you how productive they're being. So don't give too much thought over losing track of the actual hours spent working.
The pandemic has proven that companies can thrive with remote work
Instead, look for results. And after the pandemic, the results are in. Workers and companies can thrive while working remotely. It's up to managers to make space and build infrastructure for these new opportunities to take place.
Companies can increase transparency and unify teams with modern performance tools
Lastly, businesses can use tools like Workboard to increase transparency and unify their teams. These tools make it easy to track performance and reward productivity - even when that productivity isn't taking place in the office.
Create a customized virtual workspace for your company
Although the move to virtual workspaces can seem daunting, the benefits are plain to see in 2022. All you need is the right framework and toolset to get you there. Fortunately, this infrastructure is already available. By investing in virtual workspace solutions like Wellforce, you can create an effective and custom solution for your company.
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