What is a collaborative workspace?
A collaborative workspace offers a digital work environment that gives workers secure access to apps, files, and resources so they can collaborate efficiently and effectively on any device, from any location.
Collaborating virtually is no longer just a trend, but a strategy for survival. It ensures business continuity, fosters employee engagement, and increases productivity. Increases in remote working have produced challenges due to distributed workforces trying to continue working with different workspaces, applications, and even operating systems. To achieve the benefits of collaboration, organizations need to provide centralized workspaces employees can use to collaborate and share work seamlessly.
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For a workspace to be collaborative, it must include several key characteristics.
A collaborative workspace enables people to work together, regardless of their physical location. This means workers need to easily access the workspace at any time. Businesses often use several applications at the same time—for project management, documents, production, and more. Going back and forth from one app to another wastes time and impairs productivity. Typically, each application requires signing in, creating a hassle of different usernames and passwords for workers and the IT team. To be effective, a collaborative workspace should be unified with all the apps your team needs to work, share, and stay connected. Some features that make it easier for workers to access the information include:
- Single sign-on: A single username and password for the entire workspace simplifies access, saving time and improving productivity. This single sign-on (SSO) should work across devices, allowing employees to work from anywhere.
- Single interface: Easy access to any app from a single interface makes it easy to switch between them.
- Centralized dashboard: Having all integrated apps (like Office or Salesforce) in a central dashboard allows the worker to open and work in any file, regardless of where it is stored.
Accessing the workspace and applications is just the first step. The essence of a collaborative workspace is to simplify how teams work together. An effective workspace provides intelligent collaboration through automated workflows. Workers need to be able to find shared documents and work together in processes across devices. Some characteristics that make it easy to collaborate in a workspace include:
- A central repository: This simplifies finding jobs and producing content. An employee can pick up where teammates left off. The repository should be organized in a logical manner that allows all team members to find and collaborate on shared documents.
- Custom workflows: The team can customize and create automated workflows for different projects. Some projects need more approval steps, some fewer. An effective workspace gives teams a simple way to stay connected and coordinate the work from a central platform.
This is perhaps the most critical part of the collaboration process. Sharing processes sometimes creates bottlenecks when reviews and approvals stall the workflow. Requesting feedback, approvals, and signatures can be automated in an effective workspace. This helps make projects flow more easily, saves time, and speeds up progress. Some activities you can automate in an effective workflow include:
- Automated approvals and feedback: As soon as a task is completed, request approval or feedback from the task itself.
- Emails within the workspace: A big part of collaboration is communicating easily with teammates. Within an effective workspace, team members can send emails and instant messages without having to step outside the workspace. These integrations ensure all communications are done inside a secure workspace.
- Link sharing: Sharing content with outside stakeholders creates a security risk when done from different sources. By working in a unified workspace, the team can ensure role permissions are applied when sharing links with clients or contractors.
Working remotely has become the new normal for many companies in recent years. It has proven an effective strategy for reducing costs and ensuring business continuity. Most companies today collaborate online in one way or another, using shared project management, content creation, or chat applications. The benefits of working in a collaborative virtual workspace, however, are much wider.
Flexibility is critical for survival in the current market climate. Many businesses have teams consisting of employees working remotely and in-office staff. These hybrid teams need to keep track and collaborate on projects regardless of different systems, devices, and physical locations. Without a unified workspace, it can be difficult to keep business processes running smoothly. Arrangements for hybrid staff are often dynamic, changing from week to week. A collaborative digital workspace allows hybrid teams to work on the same projects from anywhere.
Virtual collaboration may increase the risk of internal threats when not carried on in a secured workspace. Workspaces that employ zero-trust protect users from threats on BYOD devices, data, resources, and files. Unified workspaces set security practices such as single sign-on to SaaS, documents, and web apps. Other practices may involve permission access rules and the principle of least privilege (granting users access only to resources they require). This applies not only to internal processes but also allows outside stakeholders to connect and collaborate securely.
Better app delivery
With virtual apps and a virtualized desktop, employees can work on projects from anywhere, across various devices, using any type of connection. Sometimes, new team members need access to new apps to work on a specific project. A collaborative workspace is ideal to quickly provide new apps and desktops with no security concerns. This allows you to scale your activities, control access, and provide a great user experience for your employees without compromising security.
In uncertain times, companies need teams to stay connected and continue business activities as much as possible. When meeting physically is not an option, a well-defined collaborative workspace helps teams continue operations. This business continuity ensures the organization can continue operations regardless of where the employees are working from.
People who work remotely often report a higher satisfaction level from their jobs and a better work-life balance. As a result, companies that employ remote workers tend to have higher employee retention and employee engagement. In addition, virtual workspaces provide a way to communicate and share things internally—like internal social media. This fosters company culture, especially for remote employees that may feel isolated from company events and news.
With more companies geographically distributed, a team spread across different time zones can be more productive when working in a unified collaborative workspace. Employees can use virtual communication and instant messages as though they are in the same office. Video conferencing allows for team meetings; for instance, there could be weekly meetings on a set time slot that works for team members in India, Europe, and the US. This ensures the project goes faster and smoother.
Companies without a unified workspace usually rely on email for communication. This generates security issues and problems such as documents getting lost. A centralized, virtualized interface allows employees to store, work on, and transfer project information and documents. A collaborative workspace automates repetitive tasks, standardizing and streamlining workflows. This eliminates the emails and chat messages requesting access, feedback, and approvals. Instead, once a user logs in to the system, they can access all the apps, projects, and documents they need. Approvals and feedback are sent automatically through the workflow.
A user’s guide to desktop as a service
Learn how to build your ideal digital workspace with desktop as a service (DaaS) solutions.
With a complete collaborative workspace platform, Citrix makes it easy to deliver secure access to everything people need, wherever work gets done. Organizations can choose from a full range of solutions to: