If you were to go back two decades, you probably wouldn’t find many people working remotely. There wasn’t the technology, or the cultural push, to make it a priority for many businesses. That has now all changed.
Industry experts suggest that about half of all workers will now work at least some of their week remotely by 2020. The challenge previously was enabling employees to access work remotely. But with data and software now being able to be stored and distributed through cloud solutions, with effective security systems for data privacy compliance, this problem has been solved.
Benefits for the business
Businesses who adopt a more flexible style of employment and allow more remote working are seeing an increase in staff well-being and productivity. This is decreasing the absence rate in the UK. As sick days are costing UK businesses £29 billion every year, this should be welcome news.
Also, taking employees away from the office can mean they are managing their time better. When in office situations, employees typically spend between 34 and 50 minutes per day socialising while making coffees or standing around the water cooler. This is excluding breaks or lunch time. While working remotely, there are fewer people to interact with, and employees tend to be more aware of time wasting and avoid it.
Some research has also found that the quality of work is also improving, which is leading to less rework, lower costs and higher profits.
In addition, costs can be lowered as more hot-desk office designs can be utilised. Staff no longer need a permanent desk in the office, especially if they’re spending two or three days away from it. Instead, they can share desk space with others who regularly work away from the office. Cloud solutions are also known to be more cost-effective than local servers, as equipment costs are removed and businesses only need to pay for what they use and need.
The hot-desk solutions allow for offices to be smaller, easier to maintain and therefore allow for more cost-savings.
In some cases, when you have a small number of employees, you could office share to cut costs. This is where you occupy an office for just a couple of days a week and another company occupies it for the rest of the time. During your occupancy, you can hold meetings, assign tasks, give feedback, etc. and then send your team off to complete their work remotely. Renting a space like this can lead to massive savings on business costs.
At the same time, recruitment to your business can improve if you advertise remote working in job postings. Some of the top talents are looking for more flexible working conditions and, therefore, these candidates will be more inclined to work for you. This can have a significant benefit to your business as better talent will result in improved output and quality.
Remote working also allows you to cast your recruiting net further. Therefore, your candidate pool can be larger, and you have a higher chance of finding the perfect candidate for the job role.
If the benefits of remote working are to be realised, you need the right technology. This is where cloud solutions can be extremely useful.
How can cloud solutions help employees work remotely?
The cloud is the perfect technology to allow your employees to work remotely, efficiently and effectively without supervision. First, cloud solutions allow your business to store data on servers that can be accessed from any location in the world. As most people of working age own a computer or laptop and have access to the internet, this means almost anyone can now work from home.
While some people worry about security, as long as some simple precautions are implemented security shouldn’t be a problem. Most cloud solutions have inbuilt anti-virus software and with the right data security training, employees should know what precautions to take when working in public spaces.
It is important to note that not all employees have the same working habits. The 9 to 5 working week doesn’t allow some employees to complete tasks when they’re at their best. For instance, some employees might be night owls, doing their best work in the evenings, while others might prefer to work from 5 am and finish earlier.
As access to the cloud is continuous, employees can enjoy the benefits of working at times which suit them. And this is the main aspect that can improve productivity and quality of work.
In addition, support for cloud solutions is often available at all times. Therefore, staff don’t need to wait until the IT department in your office opens; solutions can be sought immediately so your employees can continue on with work quickly.
Security is also often better with cloud solutions. Cloud solutions can often have permissions set for particular documents or files. These permissions can be based on user account, job type or role. In addition, to gain access to the core data, you can utilise multi-factor authentication and encrypted connections to protect data further.
What's more, cloud providers can offer email filters that can test embedded documents and links for potentially malicious software. Any emails containing these can be filtered out.
The cloud can also help your employees to stay in contact with VoIP. All they need to do is to log into the telephone system on their compatible phone and anyone can reach them with their assigned office phone number, no matter where they’re working. This can be a benefit in so many different situations, including when you utilise hot desk designs in your office.
The cloud helps businesses grow
While the cloud can help employees work remotely, it can also help businesses succeed. Cloud solutions are flexible, so the plans utilised can be scaled-up, or scaled back, as required. Therefore, you’re only paying for the services that you actually need, rather than a set price which may cover assets you aren’t using and therefore waste expenditure.
The time to upgrade or scale back is relatively quick. Instead of relying on bringing in equipment to accommodate changes, all you need to do is contact your cloud solutions supplier and tell them what you need. The changes can take minutes to then be available to you.
In addition, cloud solutions can offer effective backups that allow businesses to recover data quickly should an accident or cyberattack happen. This can be one of the biggest benefits as businesses can lose about £100 per record lost or stolen, not to mention countless days lost in productivity.