The modern office is a fractured, productivity timesink. But a new approach to managing workflow, enabling both employees and technology administrators, can change this.
Technology has been fantastic for today’s workplace. It contributes to improvements across the board, boosting productivity and expanding opportunities. The arrival of networked computers, robust applications and employee mobility changed how we deliver results.
But are we using it to its full potential? No, quite the opposite: after a honeymoon period the problems with this digital work culture are becoming clear, says Alex Russell, MD of Aptronics.
“How many emails do you get in a day? It can sometimes be hundreds and many of them don’t even need replies. But we want to be responsible and work through them. The same with applications – we jump between so many different applications that it’s hard to focus. SaaS services have only complicated that.”
Establishing a modern workspace is a common and serious problem for practically all organisations, even though many don’t realise it. But it ties into the larger conversation around work/life balance: the technologies meant to be making our professional lives easier are having the opposite effect. Company policies and cultures are often blamed, but surely there is a better way to streamline digital activities in the workplace?
Yes, there is, he says: the Citrix Workspace. “If you drill down into the matter, a clear issue is that users struggle to stay engaged,” Russell explains. “They are pulled in different directions by different applications, their attention is always demanded by notifications and mail pings, and they spend a lot of time looking for information. Many solutions have tried to resolve this at specific pain points. But Citrix Workspace changes the bigger picture to address all those concerns.”
Is Citrix Workspace a service? Is it a platform? Citrix Workspace’s vision goes beyond standard definitions, Russell says. It’s an environment that reduces the time and space between actions and outcomes by providing easy context switching, streamlining the user interface and only presenting the relevant data needed for an activity.
Consider the approving of an expense report. What would that entail? At the least, it involves opening a specific application that presents an abundance of information – more than the task requires. Then the user has to find the appropriate interface within the application and click the right buttons.
In Citrix Workspace, this would be presented as a single item in a dynamic interface, using a concept called Microapps. Only the required information is shown and the appropriate interface fields and buttons are already right there in the interface. The user doesn’t need to switch to the main application. Instead, they interact with the Citrix Workspace microapp and quickly handle the task.
All such activities are arranged in a workflow screen, designed around the needs of the user. The microapps – mini-applications that mimic specific functions of the main application – integrated to liaise information between it and the user. It creates a consumer-grade experience inside an enterprise environment, says Russell.
“Digital technologies generate too much information. But microapps, which you could compare to widgets, gives the user the access they need to get their work done. You don’t need the whole interface, just the relevant data. What Citrix Workspace does is unify this relevancy into one space, Workspace’s workflow screen, and users can focus on function and accomplishing things.”
The Citrix Workspace environment is not just a front-end replacement. Its capabilities integrate with the organisation, offering powerful tools for IT administrators and security staff. Policy aggregation, single sign-on, data management, ActiveDirectory support, SaaS integration – these are all supported and many more features are emerging as Citrix matures and expands Workspace.
“Citrix has considerable experience in creating workspaces, coupled with the various modern technologies that make integration and contextualisation possible,” Russell says. “To benefit end-users, it also has to benefit the people at the back who keep everything on the rails. This is why I think Citrix Workspace is like nothing else we’ve ever seen. It’s the way every future office will operate.”