Even before the pandemic turned everyone’s lives upside down, the cloud already had a significant impact on the business world. As of last year, 94 percent of organizations already used the cloud in some form or another, according to the RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report from Flexera.
That was before many businesses instructed employees to stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Now, the mass migration to remote work caused by this ongoing public health crisis has made cloud technology more appealing than ever for companies looking for flexible and accessible solutions that easily accommodate distributed teams.
How the Pandemic Has Affected the Cloud
This year’s State of the Cloud Report from Flexera includes survey data that reflects how the pandemic has affected cloud decision makers’ plans: The majority (59 percent) of enterprises expect their cloud usage to exceed previously anticipated levels as a result of COVID-19.
The spread of the novel coronavirus and transition to remote work has created a surge in demand for cloud-based collaboration and communication tools, according to a recent report from MarketsandMarkets. The cloud computing market is expected to show a compound annual growth rate of 12.5 percent from 2019 to 2021, increasing from $233 billion to $295 billion during that time period.
Considering that one of cloud’s main advantages is its accessibility, it makes sense that organizations have turned to this type of technology to keep their teams in touch while working remote. Software as a Service (SaaS) products – like Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) – have become particularly popular, since they allow end users to stay connected to coworkers and clients via videoconferencing, web chat and other modes of communication.
Given how easy it is to deploy and use these cloud solutions, business leaders might find themselves questioning whether workers need to come back to the office at all.
Staying Away From the Office: Pros and Cons
Although all 50 states have at least started reopening following coronavirus-related shutdowns, many workers don’t feel ready to go back to the office. In fact, “it appears only a quarter are emotionally ready,” Gallup reports. Some prominent companies have already told their employees that they don’t have to return to an actual office space if they don’t want to, according to USA Today article “Working from home post-COVID-19? Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Microsoft embracing remote work.”
With cloud solutions making it easy to virtually attend meetings, access key data and applications, and stay on the same page with colleagues, do we really need to go back to work in corporate buildings? For business leaders pondering this question, there are advantages and disadvantages to weigh.
Here are some of the pros of everyone continuing to work from home:
- Lower business expenses (e.g., rent for office buildings, utilities and so on)
- Fewer distractions for workers (at least for those with a quiet space to work from at home)
- Elimination of commute times, allowing people to spend more time with their families
However, there are also some downsides to consider:
- Less collaboration, since UCaaS and CCaaS can only do so much to replace face-to-face team building and brainstorming
- Potential productivity decreases for people who find it hard to focus at home (e.g., those who don’t have a dedicated home office and who must juggle work and childcare)
- Possible issues with technological reliability for remote workers. For instance, many people’s home internet connections might prove lacking, compared to business/commercial-grade internet
What do you think? Do we really need to return to the office, or has the pandemic accelerated a transition to a new era of working from anywhere, thanks to the cloud? Feel free to share your answer in the comments.
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