The cloud has vastly changed the workplace environment, from streamlining management operations to improving productivity and collaboration for employees. When looking at business agility, cloud technologies have improved the pace and efficiency at which employees function and have provided a centralized management system for businesses to store company information. Whether it’s internal processes such as human resources (HR) or client facing cloud services, commonly seen in the medical field with patient records accessible through cloud-based portals, these solutions are improving the way businesses are run. We’ve even seen the effects of the cloud trickle down to impact the aesthetic design of office spaces and have even witnessed the evolution of the office design industry with this technology Thanks to the cloud, more emphasis and attention is being placed on the overall workplace functionality than ever before.
Collaboration and Connectivity
The need for collaboration and connectivity is a top concern among businesses, but with the desire to work remotely only increasing among employees, one can imagine the challenges this presents. In fact, there are more remote employees in the workforce today than ever and the telecommuting trend is expected to grow with the US telecommuting ranks swelling to 63 million by 2016, according to Forrester research.
Cloud technologies support this demand from workers by facilitating a more flexible work environment. Employees can easily work cross office, even cross country, with 24/7 accessibility to important documents and information. No longer do employees have to be connected to a centralized network server to do their job, but can rather access work from a laptop, tablet or smartphone from any location.
Increased flexibility also means that businesses are able to accommodate personnel needs to improve employee satisfaction. Workers with long commutes can opt for work from home days or a parent can easily stay home when a child is sick because everything is accessible in the cloud. Importantly, employees can still collaborate with other workers in real-time. And if you are counting dollars and cents, with more personnel working remotely, businesses need less actual space and less space means lower rent costs.
The Influence on Design
The rise of the cloud has also provided more creative freedom in design. Companies are realizing that the design of an office can improve employees’ comfort and work performance and it can also improve customer interactions. Companies like Google and Facebook (News - Alert) are well-known for creating unique office environments, where employees can work indoors or outdoors, on a chaise lounge or at their desk. When stepping into these offices you’ll find perks like kegerators, dart boards and ping pong tables. What you won’t see are rows and rows of filing cabinets, big bulky desktop computers or fax machines because the cloud, and other new technologies, have cleared up office spaces and shifted focus to create a more comfortable work environment.
With digital file management systems hosted in the cloud there is literally more space in the workplace, there’s less paper clutter, traditional filing cabinets are no longer a mainstay in the office and this has an impact on the customer experience and perception of businesses. Organizations like hospitals, where paper documents have been paramount, are “cleaning house” so to speak. Patient rooms and triage centers are more open and welcoming as patient charts and health records have made their way to the cloud and eliminated the need for floor to ceiling filing systems.
Case in Point: HR
Human resources is one area of the workplace where we’ve perhaps seen the most significant impact of the cloud. Traditionally thought as a paper-based field, HR has evolved significantly thanks to new cloud-based SaaS (News - Alert) solutions for managing employee and company information.
Before cloud-based solutions, HR directors had the daunting task of organizing, updating and keeping track of paper files. Today, these headaches are eliminated and HR departments have been able to reduce administrative processes for maintaining employee records, benefits and rewards policies. Handbooks, guidelines and benefits packages are easily accessible for employees in a centralized location and HR managers no longer have to spend time fielding questions from employees. File sharing and syncing features of cloud-based storage servers also help ensure that all employees have the most updated documents.
The adaption of the cloud into various aspects of a business can improve operations. Like the incorporation of any new technology into an organization, it’s important to provide the proper training in addition to communicating the desired outcome. Of course the planning and the monitoring of implementation of this technology is vital to obtain a positive result, and can potentially lead to further adaption in other areas of the business.
Whether a company has one location, multiple offices around the world or has employees working remotely, cloud-based management software and storage solutions provide a unified channel of communication between employer and employees. Cloud technologies have disrupted virtually every aspect of business and as more companies realize the many operational improvements and creative possibilities in design – we will continue to see a growth in business cloud services and solutions.
Edited by Maurice Nagle