The business world has undergone significant change over the last several years. More recently, the pandemic has kicked significant trends and developments into high gear. This includes remote work, which is being made possible by cloud technology.
The Remote Work Movement
We’ve seen a dramatic shift from office dependence to location independence over the past year. Overall, it’s been a major positive amidst a sea of troubles. According to data gathered by PwC, 83 percent of employers believe the shift to remote work has been successful (up from 73 percent in the first few weeks after shutdowns first occurred).
While 75 percent of executives expect at least half of their office-based employees will return to the office at some point in 2021, there’s still a great deal of optimism that remote working could be a lasting movement. Over half of all employees would prefer to be remote at least three days per week.
According to Global Workplace Analytics (GWA), 56 percent of the U.S. workforce holds a job that’s compatible with remote work. Prior to the pandemic, 43 percent of the workforce worked remotely a least some of the time. That number skyrocketed to well above 50 percent during the height of the pandemic and has since normalized a bit.
The question is, what does the future hold in a post-pandemic world?
“We believe, based on historical trends, that those who were working remotely before the pandemic, will increase their frequency after they are allowed to return to their offices,” GWA mentions. “For those who were new to remote work until the pandemic, we believe there will be a significant upswing in their adoption. Our best estimate is that we will see 25-30% of the workforce working at home on a multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021.”
While the need for remote work has been pushed to the forefront because of COVID-19, it’s been made possible by technology. More specifically, we’ve been able to successfully move millions of employees from hardwired workplaces to wireless remote locales because of the cloud. And, if we’re totally transparent, the future of remote work is highly dependent on the maturation and evolution of the cloud. As the cloud improves, so will the practicality and efficiency of remote work.
How the Cloud Has Fueled a Remote Shift
The cloud can be seen as the foundation of remote work. It’s the one technology, outside of the internet, that has the most significant impact on this movement. And here are a few reasons why the cloud makes remote work possible:
1. Enhanced Security
If there were no cloud infrastructure in place, employees would be forced to store all data, files, and information on their devices. This would open organizations up to thousands of potential “points of entry” for hackers and cybercriminals. The beauty of the cloud is that it centralizes all data and information within a secure system that’s (a) much better protected and (b) easier and more convenient for employees to access.
Best of all, it’s easier to backup files with a cloud solution. Traditionally, if a computer or device failed, it was a painstaking and expensive process to recover files. (And some files became permanently corrupted.) With the cloud, every employee becomes device agnostic. Cloud backups provide new peace of mind.
2. Multi-Device Compatibility
We live in a world where changing devices is commonplace. It’s fairly normal to go from a desktop computer to a laptop to a tablet to a smartphone…then back to a computer again. (And all in the same workday.) With the cloud, the transition from one device to another is seamless. There’s no need for floppy disks, USB drives, or emailing links back and forth. This leads to greater productivity and predictability.
From a business growth perspective, the cloud is the ultimate scalable solution. It’s possible for businesses to add and subtract employees, software, and processes on an incremental and cost-effective level. The result is increased efficiency.
What Does the Future Hold?
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we have less control than we realize. Nothing is as predictable as we thought. Everything is fluid. So while it would be foolish to make concrete predictions about what comes next, the sustained rise of remote work is as close to a “sure thing” as you’re going to find.
When all of the dust settles, the shift from office-based dependence to location independence will be one of the indelible marks of the pandemic.