Cloud services are a necessity in the age of remote work

The COVID-19 pandemic forced offices around the world to halt in-person operations and work from home (WFH) instead. Even as the world opened back up, many companies maintained remote work options for their teams. And the cloud is powering this change every step of the way. 

Corporate cloud spending is expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2025

According to the International Data Corporation, corporate cloud spending is projected to grow to more than $1.3 trillion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.9%. 

Cloud computing services are the backbone of remote work. If your company has a large remote workforce or you're adding more remote work options for your company, adopting cloud services is key to ensuring long-term success. Here's why.

Changing with the times

Working outside the office has become the new norm

It'd be an understatement to say that the way we work has changed dramatically. Remote work was on the rise even before COVID-19 hit, but the pandemic's lockdowns forced many companies to go completely remote overnight. Now, working outside the office — sometimes or every day — is the norm.

Businesses operating with remote and hybrid work arrangements can benefit in the following ways:

  • Remote work has been proven to improve productivity and job satisfaction
  • Remote working arrangements eliminate geographical boundaries so you can hire outside your local talent pool
  • Companies that use remote or hybrid work models can reduce rent and overhead costs by downsizing physical offices

Employees are realizing the benefits of remote work, too. According to the State of Remote Work 2021 survey from Owl Labs, 81% of participants said they wanted to continue working under a hybrid or remote arrangement after the pandemic. And 48% of participants said they would look for a new job if they lost this flexibility.

It's clear that remote work isn't going anywhere anytime soon, which is why your company might consider adopting cloud services. Reliable cloud tech is essential for giving your people the resources they need to be productive in their jobs, whether in the office or working from home.

Let's backtrack a bit. What is the cloud, and what does it mean to be working in the cloud?

Working in the cloud means storing data in off-site servers you can access from anywhere, at any time

The cloud is a catch-all term that refers to servers, software, and databases you can access via the internet. When you store your content in the cloud, you're essentially storing your data on a managed off-site server you can access anywhere, anytime, on any internet-connected device. It's that simple. 

The cloud enables remote working software through cloud computing — the internet-based services that support complex digital infrastructure, applications, and business tasks. If you plan to enable a remote or hybrid workforce, you'll need to invest in cloud computing and cloud storage services. 

How the cloud supports remote work

The cloud is web-based, meaning you don't need to install new infrastructure to use it

On-premises data infrastructure limits you to the four walls of your office building, but cloud software allows you to work anywhere, anytime, on any device. Because the cloud is entirely web-based, you don't need to install any additional hardware or infrastructure to use cloud services — all you need is an internet connection. 

Some of the other benefits of this technology for remote work include:

Access files from anywhere

Use the cloud to work from anywhere

Getting work done from home requires you to be able to access the information and resources you need for your job. Using traditional infrastructure like on-premises servers can make it challenging to get your job done remotely without having to create inefficient workarounds.

One of the chief benefits of using cloud services is the easy access the cloud gives your people. Whenever they need information, they can use your cloud portal for seamless access.

If you're new to the cloud, you may be concerned that easy access means low security — but in reality, the opposite is true. Your system administrators can customize authentication and permission requirements to limit access to specific data as needed. You can also work with your cloud service provider (CSP) to tailor your security features to your particular industry's regulations.

Collaborate with anyone

Cloud-powered collaboration tools get your remote teams on the same page

Sending different versions of the same document back and forth via email attachments is a slow process that can lead to data errors. Cloud computing technologies allow remote team members to work on the same document simultaneously, which enables them to get more done in less time. 

WFH software removes traditional barriers to collaboration and communication by allowing you to connect with your team members in real time, no matter where they are. Centralized cloud servers allow for instant access to new software updates and access to your data and files whenever you need them. With that, versioning allows you to track and manage changes to your documents through the cloud, reducing errors and making it easier to pivot when circumstances change.

It can be difficult to get everyone on the same page when no one is in the same room. Cloud communication technologies like instant messaging, video conferencing, and email make it easy to get in touch with supervisors and team members whenever you need to so you can stay productive.

Improve productivity

Leverage instant syncing, minimize downtime, speed up login processes, and consolidate your content with the cloud

When you can't get the information and resources you need, you can't do your work. Cloud computing allows your remote team to be productive regardless of their physical location by giving them what they need to make autonomous decisions. 

Instant syncing through the cloud means you can upload the most recent version of your file on your computer, and your teammate can open it on their tablet within minutes. That near-instant access keeps projects moving seamlessly from one task to the next.

Cloud computing remote work software also minimizes downtime so people can stay productive once they hit their rhythm. And automated updates can run in the background during the workday, so you can get tasks done without waiting for the process to finish.

What's more, cloud services speed up work by eliminating minor process inefficiencies that are common with in-person collaboration. You don't need to wait for all meeting participants to get to the conference room in a remote meeting, for instance — everyone can attend from wherever they happen to be working, so you can get to work right away. 

Some cloud services offer desktop or mobile applications which make accessing your information even more effortless by speeding up the login process. Cloud software can often integrate with other business applications to further streamline operations and consolidate all your content under one centralized system, too. Both features are advantageous for remote teams because they cut down on the time remote workers need to spend clicking through various programs and folders.

Scale horizontally and vertically

Use the cloud to grow your remote teams

Legacy infrastructure — traditional server rooms and data centers — can make it difficult to adjust when your business needs change. When you experience a surge in demand and require more data to store and process customer information, you must purchase new hardware. But you might only require a portion of the space you purchase. You also need to pay to maintain your on-premises equipment, which adds up quickly. 

Most cloud services offer tiered subscriptions on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis, which allow you to quickly scale up or down to meet your company's needs whenever your situation changes. PAYG pricing also makes managing costs much easier because you can predict your costs for the quarter without having to make unexpected upfront investments if something breaks down.

Enhance security

Cloud service providers power secure collaboration across remote teams

Online predators have gotten smarter over the years — but so has cloud security. Cloud services bring cybersecurity beyond the traditional firewall and directly into your content. 

Zero-trust security architecture with identity and access management (IAM) controls helps secure collaboration across geographical boundaries. These technologies ensure anyone accessing your information has the proper authorization, so you don't have to worry about cybercriminals getting into your system.

When your employees work remotely, they're likely using an unsecure network, which can pose a risk to your data without protective measures. Top CSPs offer advanced cybersecurity technologies to protect your files, both in transit and at rest, from external malicious actors. Even if your people are working from their local coffee shop's public network, you can have peace of mind knowing their information is safe from harm.

Further, many CSPs offer customized cybersecurity solutions for specific industries, including highly regulated organizations like government agencies, healthcare, and finance. Look for a CSP's credentials on their website so you can tell right away if they're a good fit for your company.

Speed up workflows

Automate processes and save backups of data in the cloud to enhance efficiency and reduce downtime

Downtime for system maintenance and updates can bring a workday to a grinding halt. Retrieving data from legacy infrastructure during outages can take hours or even days, but cloud services enable some or even all of your people to keep business running as usual, even in emergencies. Managed cloud services can also update automatically outside of business hours, so your people can complete the workday as usual before your cloud infrastructure begins maintenance.

Tedious processes that are prone to human error eat up valuable time, making it hard to keep big projects on track. Many cloud services provide automation for these processes, which allows your people to completely focus on higher-value tasks — and cut down on data errors in the process.

Tools like self-service portals and employee dashboards are also beneficial for workflow optimization. Consider the amount of time human resources professionals spend on onboarding and training. Instead of navigating a lengthy process for each new hire, you can send them a link to your cloud platform so they can complete the process independently and contact your HR team if they need help.

Managing and supporting your remote workforce

Address potential challenges of remote work with cloud-based tools

While remote work is beneficial for many companies and individuals, it's not without its challenges. Experienced remote managers see many common problems in remote workforces across many companies and industries — thankfully, the cloud can help you resolve these issues and get back to work.

Here are some tips to ensure your remote workforce is doing the best they can with the best tools available.

Make your people feel included

Host virtual events to make remote teams feel connected and included

One of the most common challenges remote workers face is feeling lonely and isolated. Without the casual face-to-face interaction of an office environment, your people are likely to feel disconnected from your organization — which can make them want to leave.

Regularly checking in with your team — especially people new to remote work — is key to ensuring they feel supported and included in your organization. Sometimes, just having someone touch base with how an employee is doing can make a world of difference in how they perceive their job and company, which can improve retention and productivity rates.

Many remote managers also provide opportunities for social interaction outside of work hours to reduce feelings of isolation and promote a sense of belonging. Some popular examples of virtual team-building activities include:

  • Hosting virtual happy hours
  • Encouraging team members to share life milestones
  • Creating virtual break rooms 
  • Holding interactive game nights
  • Sending care packages to your team and opening them together over video calls

Provide multiple communication options

Use different cloud-based communication technologies to let teams communicate naturally

Back-and-forth email exchanges may work in some situations, but they're inefficient for most business conversations. Email communication is also prone to coming off as stiff and overly formal, which can increase remote workers' feelings of isolation from the company.

Providing your people with many different cloud-based communication technologies allows them to communicate more naturally with you and each other. Video conferencing software, for example, gives you the verbal and nonverbal clues that are essential for developing mutual knowledge and ensuring everyone is on the same page. 

Cloud-based communication channels include:

  • Video conferencing: Best for meetings and complex or sensitive business
  • Instant messaging: Best for informal and time-sensitive messages
  • Email: Best for formal, non-urgent communication

Establish communication expectations

Create guidelines for remote team communication

It can be tough to gain visibility over your remote teams when you're all in different places. Setting engagement rules early help ensure your team is always on track. These guidelines also boost team morale and productivity. After all, when you know what your supervisor expects from you, you can feel more satisfied with your work.

Important communication expectations to establish include:

  • Which communication channels to use and when
  • The best times to reach you and other team members 
  • How often you expect team members to provide updates on their work

It may also help to monitor public team communication channels to ensure everyone is sharing information and staying on course.

Discover the power of the Content Cloud

With a single secure platform for all your content, Box enables you to manage the entire content lifecycle: file creation, co-editing, sharing, e-signature, classification, retention, and so much more. We make it easy for you to collaborate on content with anyone, both inside and outside your organization. Frictionless, enterprise-grade security and compliance are built into our DNA, so you get total peace of mind that your content is protected. And with 1,500+ seamless integrations — as well as a range of native capabilities, like Box Sign — the Content Cloud provides a single content layer that ensures your teams can work the way they want.

The Content Cloud is a game changer for the entire organization, streamlining workflows and boosting productivity across every team. Contact us today, and explore what you can do with Box.

Power remote work with Content Cloud

**While we maintain our steadfast commitment to offering products and services with best-in-class privacy, security, and compliance, the information provided in this blogpost is not intended to constitute legal advice. We strongly encourage prospective and current customers to perform their own due diligence when assessing compliance with applicable laws.