Remote working has been a cross-industry standard for almost a year now, and that’s unlikely to change in the near future even if the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an unexpectedly graceful end. Many professionals wanted to work from home years before lockdowns were put into place, reasoning that ever-improving internet infrastructure coupled with the computer-based nature of modern offices meant that they really didn’t need to be commuting regularly.
This shift may have been forced upon us, but the results have made one thing very clear: those professionals were exactly right. Most businesses can carry on largely unaffected using the remote-working model. That doesn’t mean that they do, though: not yet, at least. A year isn’t enough to make everyone an expert at navigating distance working, and there are still plenty of companies — of all shapes and sizes — struggling with productivity.
To overcome this hurdle, they need to do various things: invest in home office equipment, for instance, and focus on mental health. In this piece, though, we’re going to concentrate on the key to remote-working productivity: cloud tech. Why is it so important? Let’s get into it.
IT skills aren’t as common as many assume
It’s now been decades since the personal computer reached mainstream adoption, and we all walk around with smartphones that massively outstrip what early PCs were capable of. Given that computers were once the domain of scientists and engineers, doesn’t this mean that the average level of technological literacy has become relatively high?
In actuality, no, it doesn’t. This is due to immense improvements in user interfaces (see Design Shack for notes on this) making it extremely easy for people lacking significant tech skills to use touchscreen devices and get through word processing and internet browsing using conventional computers. That someone knows how to access their emails and create spreadsheets doesn’t mean much beyond that.
Due to this, moving so many people out of offices has led to some serious issues with software use. It’s easy enough to muddle through when there’s an in-house IT department to send someone over whenever you’re unsure which button to pressure, but that isn’t how things work for online businesses: IT assistants can connect remotely, yes, but that isn’t always viable.
Using cloud software means that the configuration gets handled for people. It’s typical to arrange a software package with a cloud solution distributor that gets discounted rates (each will specialize: for example, intY, a ScanSource company, concentrates on Azure products). That distributor will then set everything up so remote users can get easy access. Relying on the cloud means you can take all the complexity out of working at a distance.
The average laptop is far from a powerhouse
Not all companies can afford to give their employees high-end laptops capable of dealing with significant workloads. Indeed, some of them still need their workers to use their personal laptops, working on shoestring budgets due to suffering major financial hardships due to the economic circumstances — and the average laptop doesn’t have the processing power to handle complex tasks.
If an employee suddenly needs to address such a task but doesn’t have a computer that can manage it, they’re left in a tricky situation — but that situation doesn’t arise when you’re relying on cloud technology. This is because cloud processing is indefinitely scalable. You pay for the resources you use, so it’s a simple matter of increasing the budget.
There’s no need to swap machines and go through further setup processes. Any laptop that can smoothly access the internet can draw upon this power. This also means that even basic computers — Chromebooks, for instance — can be effective workstations, greatly increasing the level of convenience and flexibility.
Centralizing files and projects is mission-critical
Lastly, having workers scattered across countries (or even throughout the world) makes it extremely difficult to handle collaboration. Individual tasks are fine, but it’s obviously difficult to team up on a project when you can’t share a physical workspace. Digital files are easier to share in a technical sense, but the level of information overload also makes them easy to lose.
If people store files locally, it can cause major problems. What happens if the lead on a project falls ill and someone else needs to step in but can’t access the necessary data? Cloud storage ensures that everything is always accessible to those with the required permissions. It does need everyone to get into the habit of storing things in that way, but it isn’t a difficult change.
Along with the power of cloud processing, centralized storage also means that it isn’t a big problem in the event that a particular laptop fails. Provided the user has their cloud login information, they can get back to work within minutes of receiving a replacement.
These are the core reasons why cloud tech is key to remote-working productivity, but in truth, it’s key for all businesses at this point. The rich combination of convenience, affordability, and power makes it an unbeatable proposition. If you’re not already taking advantage of it, then you need to address that as a matter of urgency.