What is a virtual workspace and why should you care if you aren't remote?

By Scott Mitchell

October 13, 2021

Businessman connecting with team via video conferencing

Remote working has become fully normalized, with many large organizations publicly announcing a switch to remote working for the foreseeable future. Still, plenty of organizations are slowly bringing their employees back to the office in a more flexible way, trying to combine the collaboration benefits of in-office with the efficiency of remote work.

Modern offices have more diverse needs than ever before, which has spurred the growth of dynamic ways to solve these new problems. One of the most popular, and rapidly innovating, solutions to the needs of modern businesses is the virtual workspace.

What is a virtual workspace?

A virtual workspace is a working environment where employees connect digitally with their peers and their workflows regardless of physical location — think of it as an office that is only limited by your internet connection.

Collaboration, communication, and work all happen here: ideally, virtual workspaces should be as close to a one-to-one reflection of in-office work as possible.

While this type of virtual environment started as a way to bolster workflow continuity, companies now use it as the primary framework for how they get work done.

Seamless collaboration and communication

Virtual workspaces are enabled by applications built on cloud computing, whether private or public. These apps represent the core workflow of the business.

Having 100% of your core workflow taking place in cloud-based apps means users can easily collaborate and work on the same projects and documents, often simultaneously. It allows users to access the documents, data, and tools they need for work from anywhere with an internet connection

Today, there are very few workflows that cannot operate on this workflow. Here is a small list of advanced workflows that can be carried out in a virtual workspace:

  • Creative workflows, including design, 3D, video post-production, and web design
  • Web development
  • Finance
  • Logistics
  • Customer support and success
  • And many, many more

This level of collaboration, while not wholesale replacing face-to-face collaboration, is only getting better. Internal communications have quickly grown past emails and instant messages. Today, it’s as easy to start a video call as it is to ping someone on Teams, and daily video standup meetings have proven to be a great replacement for in-person meetings.

87% of remote workers say that video conferencing helps maintain that sense of connection and collaboration. And with the workforce being more decentralized than ever, cloud communication standards are helping to bridge the gap between in-office and virtual workspaces.

Simplified security

For starters, virtual workspaces as a baseline are more difficult to secure compared to a completely on-premise workspace. The reasons are obvious: even if you can afford to build and maintain a private cloud infrastructure, you are still introducing more security vectors just by your team connecting from different internet connections.

That being said, there are some clear security benefits to virtual workspaces, even if you can’t afford a top-of-the-line private solution.

If your team utilizes the public cloud—that is, any app that you don’t host on your own servers—there is always some baseline security included. If you use Microsoft apps, for instance, they have great security features that smaller businesses simply wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

Since public cloud applications are often hosted in large data centers, there will be enterprise-strength physical and virtual security features that help keep your data safe. On top of this, you’ll have better app uptime due to the increased reliability and resources of these data centers.

Beyond the application itself, security concerns are much the same as on-premise work. You need to be sure to continually educate employees on the best and safest way to do work, and make sure devices are as secure as possible. Implementing additional security practices such as multi-factor authentication and single sign-on is a great way to cluster your security for easier management as well.

Discover cost savings

If you are using a physical office space less frequently it means you can lower your costs as you can reduce expenditure on rent and the associated costs that come with an office, e.g., security and maintenance. You can also scale up your team when needed without spending that much.

By making cost savings with your office environment, you can benefit from an improved profit margin, which gives you the ability to pass on cost savings to your customers – or you can reinvest extra cashback into your business.

Creating a work-from-anywhere company culture

Culture is a tricky idea to pin down. A company can have a corporate philosophy or a set of guiding values, but the culture of a workplace arises organically out of interactions between workers.

Virtual workspaces help workers easily transition to combining remote work and back to the office, creating a streamlined work environment. This transforms the company culture, creating a flexible work-from-anywhere environment and a better work-life balance.

Translating in-person culture to a remote or hybrid one is certainly a challenge. Begin by deciding what your company’s values are, put them in writing, and then reinforce them through every channel you can.

Scott Mitchell
Scott Mitchell

Content marketing strategist with specializations in IT and managed services.