The Potency of the ‘Workspace’ User Permission Model: Trends and Advantages for SaaS Startups.

The Potency of the ‘Workspace’ User Permission Model: Trends and Advantages for SaaS Startups.

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Authored by: Timothy J. Baio in collaboration with ChatGPT

As we were tasked to design a novel AI-driven, SaaS platform tailored for the real-estate sector, we’ve delved deep into the intricacies of user permissions and product tiers, uncovering fascinating insights into the latest trends driving the SaaS user experience.

After internal discussions, some research and thought about what we found, I ran the topic through our buddy, ‘ChatGPT’.

The following is a little bit of what she returned and some of what I feel about this new model. Here’s some of what ChatGPT says:

Unraveling the ‘Workspace’ Model

“The ‘workspace’ model is a revolutionary approach, offering users dedicated domains for collaboration, organization, and task management. Picture it as a virtual nexus where users can effortlessly collaborate, orchestrated to cater to their unique requirements.”


“It’s crucial for startups to adopt user-centric design principles that enhance collaboration, streamline workflows, and empower users with efficient access controls.”

I agree, it’s crucial.

Crazy Growth Potential:

While ChatGPT said this: ‘Scalability and Organization: Startups can accommodate users of all scales, from individual freelancers to large enterprises, by offering multiple workspaces.’, I’m not sure that quite covers the potential of this approach.

Consider Slack, Notion, Airtable, Trello, LucidChart and many more. If you look at these platforms, you may notice the functionality they deliver is not that earth-shaking. For example, Canva delivers amazing functionality, but Notion? Slack? The case could be made that they grew mainly because of their workplace model. Yes, they delivered sought-after functionality, but they delivered it to almost any type of user. Without the workspace user model, they might not be anywhere near where they are today. Of course, now they are using their success to deliver more functions and benefits for the users, but IMO they didn’t really start out with that much.

ChatGPT also said this….

Trends in Workspace Model Adoption

Customization and Flexibility: Users seek platforms that adapt to their unique workflows. The workspace model provides a versatile framework that can be tailored to various industries, from project management to creative collaboration. Startups are embracing this trend by offering customizable workspaces that accommodate different use cases.

Remote Collaboration: With the rise of remote work, the workspace model aligns perfectly with the need for seamless online collaboration. Users can access their workspaces from anywhere, securely collaborate with team members, and maintain organization without physical boundaries.

Granular Permissions: Users demand precise control over who can access and modify their content. The workspace model empowers startups to implement granular permission settings, ensuring data security and privacy while enabling effective collaboration.

Integration of Tools: SaaS startups are recognizing that users need more than just a single tool. By incorporating a workspace model, platforms can seamlessly integrate various tools, such as document editors, project boards, and communication channels, all within a single environment.”

Yes, agreed ChatGPT. But I think there’s more…

You can deliver both B2B/B2C experiences:

I didn’t get this feedback from ChatGPT, probably because it is working with info that’s a few years old. But if you’re smart, your company can make this model work for B2C and B2B.

Because Workspaces can be initiated by ANYONE, with some careful planning your ideation team can plan an upgrading, user permission system that services the one-man-bands, all the way up to a 10,000 employee corporation.
For example: I could design a system for Gig Laundry services, that works for a kid in college, a family of 4 with many kids in college, and an assisted living facility with 400 tenants just as easily. Smart workspace planning may be all that is needed.

Chat GPT hints at it here, under ‘Scalability’ and ‘User Onboarding’

Benefits of the Workspace Model for SaaS Startups

Enhanced Collaboration: Workspaces foster collaboration by providing a centralized hub where teams can communicate, share ideas, and work together. This leads to increased productivity and reduced communication silos.

Personalized Experiences: With workspaces, startups can offer users a personalized experience. Whether it’s tailoring permissions, layout, or integrations, users feel more engaged when they can customize their workspace to match their preferences.

Scalability and Organization: Startups can accommodate users of all scales, from individual freelancers to large enterprises, by offering multiple workspaces. This promotes organization and helps users manage different projects without clutter.

User Onboarding and Adoption: The workspace model simplifies user onboarding. New users can quickly grasp the platform’s structure and intuitively navigate through their designated workspace, leading to faster adoption rates.

Data Security and Compliance: Workspaces enable startups to implement robust security measures. Data remains compartmentalized, reducing the risk of unauthorized access. This is particularly crucial for startups dealing with sensitive data or industries with regulatory requirements.

Versatility and Future-Proofing: The workspace model’s versatility ensures that startups can adapt to changing user needs and industry trends. It lays the foundation for innovation, allowing the integration of new features and functionalities as the platform evolves.”

All true and well presented. But I noticed something else in the latest SaaS products who are really killing it. I’ll call it the ‘User Control Offering’.

The ‘User Control Offering’, withholding controls not features:

In the past, SaaS teams typically designed 3 or 4 engagement/subscription levels, gradually introducing more features, at each level the user pays more. But I was surprised to see this model flipped in some Workspace models. And flipping the model, e.g. giving ALL functionality to the free user, but withholding some ‘control’ of the users Workspace, you drive the user to seek more control, hence larger companies push into expanded use.

This blew my mind. Instead of withholding features, you withhold control of the Workspace.

For example…

  • Level 1: At the free level, the user can begin his own workspace, access all features, and invite anyone she likes. But she has no control over those users. They can post, delete, edit, etc. We’ve seen this in Notion, Slack (sort of), Asana, Trello, etc.
  • Level 2: At the ‘starter’ level, the workspace owner gets the same functions as before but usually the ability to invite more users and more importantly, more control over its users. E.g. who can see different channels, who can edit, delete, create and share.
  • Level 3: Typically, at Level 3, the SaaS has the ability to be used by corporations or much larger groups. The account can be handed over to high level users, channels or teams can be managed by mid-level users, and the accounts can mix with freelancers or outside groups which enables the B2B and B2C offerings. The controls over each user are increased, sometimes down to the item level.
  • Level 4: This tends to be a full enterprise delivery or is reserved for definition after the platform has been operating awhile and able to collect feedback from users.


I found the latest ‘workspace’ user permission model to be quite exciting, particularly when it utilizes the ‘User Control Offering’ at its best (some are using a watered-down version of this).

As ChatGPT said…

“Its ability to facilitate collaboration, customization, and security positions it as a key driver of user satisfaction and platform success. By embracing this model, startups can create a user-centric environment that empowers individuals and teams to achieve their goals efficiently and effectively in the evolving digital landscape.”

Yes ChatGPT, but I feel, when designed correctly, it’s more than that.

Let me know your thoughts.

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