This period of economic uncertainty is bad news for everyone, but businesses that wrest back the initiative by tackling inefficiencies will not only survive, but come out stronger.
The UK economy looks set to fall into recession before the end of the year. Although the recent Budget calmed some nerves, the cost-of-living crisis will continue to restrict the spending opportunities of businesses, consumers, and the public sector.
This is the second global shock since 2020, when Covid closed down parts of the economy almost overnight. The reflex reaction of most businesses was to shelve plans for digital projects – but this did not last long. CEOs soon understood they had to look to digital technologies to overcome the lockdown crisis, and investment regained its momentum.
The cost-of-living crisis is very different from Covid, but the business case for cutting costs strategically through innovation never goes away. With inflation at levels not seen for a generation, businesses have to find operational efficiencies – and quickly.
The adoption of digital or adaptive workspaces is one way to achieve this – one of several, of course. However, they are a particularly timely investment because as well as bearing down on costs and creating business efficiencies, digital workplaces can also help your employees cope with the cost-of-living crisis.
When technology becomes a roadblock
If Covid revealed the triumph of technology, digital workplaces address one of its setbacks: that sometimes there is just too much of it .
We have all experienced the sensation of app fatigue where technology, far from helping us to work smarter, seems to actually be standing in our way. The Covid emergency gave us an even more overcrowded digital landscape.
Remote working led to an accelerated adoption of workplace apps in a context where this had to be done at breakneck speed. This didn’t just affect businesses.
Schools and universities started teaching remotely. One London institution deployed Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Blackboard Learn indiscriminately, with lecturer logins for each of the platforms. Recorded lessons ended up in different “shared” databases which were highly unintuitive to access. There was also considerable confusion around lecturers using personal Zoom or Microsoft Teams accounts in breach of compliance.
While teething problems were only to be expected, this is still the situation more than two years on. There has been no serious effort to set up a coherent workspace with a prescribed set of tools.
This is the situation in many organisations, where workflows are increasingly fragmented by a build-up of well-intentioned apps. On average, businesses deploy 89 different apps (up from 58 in 2015) of which almost a third are duplicative or add no value, although you might still be paying a licence fee for them. What this means in terms of inefficiencies is mind-boggling. A recent study found that workers typically toggle between 1,200 different apps and websites every day, wasting many hours a week just on the keyboard strokes necessary to do that.
What is a digital workspace?
A digital workspace is a Software-as-a-Service platform that enables workers to move fluidly between an office and home setting with a customised set of tools and workflows. They are not the same as virtual desktops which give you remote access to an on-premise installation. While virtual desktops facilitate remote working, they don’t make it more efficient. The operational flaws of the office environment are simply “copied” to your personal PC or laptop.
You still get to play hide and seek with 1,200 website pages and apps every day, but you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
Digital workspaces transform how you work because the apps and systems you need to complete a task are accessed with a single log-in and can be integrated with your workflows through easy-to-build micro apps. Those hours spent on “app toggling” are redeemed for productivity, saving you time and money on common workflows such as support ticketing, expense claim submissions, accessing healthcare protocols, and many more.
A more immediate ROI is that workers only use the apps they need, and not that “suite of apps” provided indiscriminately during onboarding. You don’t want to pay a licence and an annual maintenance fee for an app that’s never used; by giving you granular control over who deploys what software, digital workspaces help you avoid that.
Why Workspace 365?
The name of our digital workspace is a nod to probably the most famous and most used (or misused) suite of software: Microsoft 365. Our system was built from the ground up to allow organizations to get the most out of their Microsoft 365 licences, both functionally and in terms of cost.
Our digital workspace fully integrates the components of Microsoft 365 that are used most often. Microsoft 365 has so many options, functionalities, and possibilities it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. We give your employees “the best of Microsoft 365” (which may differ from worker to worker) and make this seamless and coherent in your different workflows.
We optimise budgets by deploying web versions of Microsoft applications instead of the more expensive client versions. Workspace 365 helps you control costs across your entire app landscape, not only for Microsoft instances. The cost of provisioning and maintaining a “fully loaded” workstation tends to be considerably higher than the cost of a custom workstation designed for web use.
How Workspace 365 makes a difference to your employees
Workspace 365 helps businesses, health providers, and universities in many fundamental ways. In the pressing context of the current crisis, we have looked at the simplest and most immediate wins.
But nothing can be more important than to make sure your employees stay on board.
UK public transport and childcare costs are among the highest in the world and this is why the cost-of-living crisis is forcing many parents (mothers in the vast majority of cases) to give up their careers. Childcare issues were cited as one of the reasons by half the workers (48%) who gave up their job in 2021.
Digital workspaces enable organisations to be flexible, creative, and empathic in how they allow employees to structure their working day. Workspace 365 runs perfectly on lower-cost laptops such as Chromebooks or the Microsoft equivalent, so by offering this to employees you help them (as well as your business) negotiate the difficult times ahead.
Workspace 365 delivers many short and long-term benefits – but the most important ROI of all is the commitment and experience of your employees.
That being said, digital workspaces also offer very tangible returns on investment – which we shall look at in conclusion.
We are so used to working inefficiently we don’t have any insight into how much time our “workarounds” are wasting.
Workspace 365 users have reported significant savings of up to an hour a day per employee, although efficiencies naturally depend on where the business started, and how deeply the solution is embedded in its workflows. Business productivity ROI is difficult to measure but every study confirms considerable benefits, both for business efficiency and employee retention. We shall cite an example of each.
A report by Forbes found that when businesses provide anytime, anywhere access to relevant applications, they achieved time savings of 17%. Employees, too, are crying out for a smarter way to work. In a survey by Cisco, the manufacturer of networking hardware, 96% of employees indicated that they needed “intelligent workplace technology” to improve their hybrid working environment.
But what is more compelling than these savings and initiatives is your optimism in committing to them. You know you have a strong team, a strong brand, and the determination to beat the cost-of-living crisis. The best way to benefit from the upturn when it comes (and it will come) is to have a business with a workforce that is even more focused and productive.
If you are interested in leveraging the power of Workspace 365 to find savings and efficiencies and have your workforce delight in a smarter way to work, we would love to hear from you.
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